Moms make the dumbest deals. Or maybe it's just me.

My first proof to the world of my artlessness at negotiation came when my oldest began talking. He'd say, "Icespeam?" and I'd correct him like a good mommy, "Ice Cream?" and he'd say, "Yes please." I could welch on it, destroying the victory of his communication — or recognize that I'd been conned into taking my toddler out for sundaes. I’m thinking I should have been tipped off by his bringing me my purse... and my keys.

Things didn't improve when the kids got older. I love when my kids read books. Good moms promote such things. In a fit of enthusiasm, I made the public declaration: I wouldn't nag them to go to bed if I caught them reading a chapter book. It's been fifteen years since that deal, and to this day, no one ever gets to sleep before nine — not even the ones who can’t read. They’ve learned to fake it or collude with their roommate for the bonus bedtime story so as to have plausible cause for staying up. Mom still stinks at brinkmanship, but her kids (starting at age five) could host Shark Tank.

As teenagers, I figured, we'd come to an understanding. We had. Mom is a world class sucker. “Hey Mom! Do you need help?” “Why thank you Sweeties. I’ve got some errands and we still need to do the dishes….” “I’ll get the groceries on my way back…” and they’re out the door.  I consider it a square deal if they come back with the errand done, but like I said, I'm a sucker. 

Last week, we had tickets to go to a basketball game, a gift. Great seats! One of my littles got sick so I handed over our spots to the daughter, who had just celebrated a birthday. While she enjoyed watching the pros, I fed the sick child dinner, bathed her, and tucked her into bed. While there, I began cleaning up her room. It still suffered from post-Christmas-every-toy-had-to-be-opened-and-explored-itis. The cleaning bug in me hit and one room turned into two, into three. The other occupants helped but two hours later, I'd removed two bags of trash and three piles of laundry, and all the upstairs looked ready for the new year.

I felt a sense of accomplishment until I saw the screen shot of my daughter on the television right next to the team’s bench. I gave up courtside seats so I could clean my house. It's official. There is no one dumber than me. I muttered to myself, “Freely you received, freely you are to give.” 

"MOM?" The daughter I’d stayed home for, was coming down the stairs. Kissing my cheek, she handed me a homemade bracelet we’d found in the cleaning process for my arm. I walk her back to bed. As I’m tucking her in, she tells me, "Tomorrow, I'm taking you to McDonald's.” She points to her gift card from Santa and I know, she’s giving me the biggest thing she can. Her love mirrors God’s in that moment. God can never be outdone in love, in sacrifice, and He always overpays with love.  “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing...” My own heart soars; to think, I would have missed out on this treasure.