Pennies and Prayers

By Peggy Bert
Excerpted from Chicken Soup for The Working Mom’s Soul

The three of us were gathered around our breakfast table. My husband, Alex swallowed the last few drops in his coffee cup, pushed his chair away from the table and kissed us good-bye. It was 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.

Our three-year-old son was perched on his booster chair, wearing cowboy pajamas, bunny-rabbit slippers and a corduroy robe. He looked up at us intently through oversized, sparkling blue eyes with long, fluttering lashes. Chewing his Cheerios, he started asking his usual questions.

“Is today a go-to-work day”?

“Yes, sweetheart, it is.”

“Can I go too?”

“No, honey.”

“Does Daddy have to go to work?”

“Yes, he does.”

Why does Daddy have to go to work?”

“Daddy has to go to work to make money. We need money to live in this apartment and buy food and milk and juice and cereal at the grocery store. We need money to buy other things, like our TV, these dishes and hamburgers and ice cream at McDonalds. We need money for all that. If Daddy doesn’t go to work, we won’t have any money.’

This Monday morning was going to be very different than all the others. Today, I was going to have to leave for work, too. Alex had just changed careers and his compensation was now based solely on the promise of future commissions. We decided that I would begin working outside the home to help supplement our income until he got established. New questions from our son were sure to follow.

“But why do you have to go to work, Mommy?”

“Well, Vince, Mommy is going to work because we need – just a little extra money.”

All of sudden, those big blue eyes of his lit up – as if —finally— he actually understood what we were trying to tell him. He jumped from his chair and took off running down the hall for his bedroom. We heard him open a drawer of his dresser, and then a “clinking” sound filled the air. The “chink-chink-chink” noise kept getting louder. It matched the cadence of running feet.

Vince appeared, clutching his piggy bank to his chest.

Each time that grammas, grandpas, aunts and uncles or friends came over, they gave Vince money. He gripped every coin with his elfin fingers and carefully positioned each one to drop through the narrow slot. One-at-a-time, they clinked into the top of his chubby, yellow, plastic pig. We thought this was a valuable tool to teach our son the concept of saving money. We explained to him that after there were many coins inside, it could be used for something very special. He counted the contents often and always referred to it as “my money”.

He proudly raised his plump little piggy toward us. Still panting, with excitement in his voice and a big smile on his face, he said, “I’ll give you all my money so you can stay home —and we can all be together”.

We couldn’t speak. The lumps in our throats brought tears to our eyes. A sharp, cruel, arrow of guilt penetrated deep into my spirit. Could it ever be successfully removed? It felt like my heart had been wounded beyond repair. Could I ever forget the words my child just spoke? Would that look of anticipation in his eyes ever leave the camera of my mind? Had we made a mistake? Was the decision we made a bad one? Our desire was only to do what we thought best for our family.

That incident took place 32 years ago. In the years between then and now, we have learned how to seek God’s guidance in our decisions and our finances. If at times, we felt we had made a mistake, we entrusted the outcome to God in faith.

That blue-eyed “boy” now flies 757 and 767 jet aircraft all over the world for a major airline. His profession has located him in a different state from where we live. Just recently, we enjoyed a memorable seven-day visit at our son’s home. A major topic of conversation during our stay was the possibility of our buying a condo as a second home in the area where he lives.

The three of us were sitting around his breakfast table. Sipping his coffee, Vince looked up at us with his sparkling blue eyes and said, “Listen Mom and Dad. Don’t worry about the money part of it. I’ve saved a lot over the years and I can pay your taxes and fees and whatever expenses you need help with. Just do it —and we can all be together in the same place.”

Some things never change. We have contacted a real estate agent and will fly back to look at property. Piggy banks are profitable partners. God’s protective, loving hand can help overcome obstacles and mend a mother’s heart—it is filled with overflowing gratitude, not guilt.

You can enjoy more true stories like this one in Chicken Soup for The Working Mom’s Soul, by purchasing your copy at Amazon.com

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