This beautiful artwork is straight out of a sweet book on motherhood by Sarah Cray. It was gifted to me from my own mother, on a mother-daughter-sister brunch day we had last summer just before I was leaving town again (and the day before my sister was moving out of her house, while pregnant with pneumonia). She made sure that we squeezed in this special moment together, which are unfortunately rare because of my distance. I'm so thankful for this tiny treasure to take away from the day, along side my special memories of it. The first time I flipped through the book, this quote stood out to me, and continues to stand out whenever I've gone back to it - I think because I can see my own mother in this quote... strong like a hurricane, but nothing short of beautiful.
I can picture us kids, perfectly dressed in our Easter outfits in position for photos. We had shoes to match our outfits, we had outfits to match each other, and our hair was always braided or curled with freshly cut ribbons to top it off. My mother had a vision, and we would be dressed to perfection and snapped in a photo before it could become 'unperfect.' Of course this is probably the most vain example I can think of as an example of my mother's hurricane strength - but as any mother she pulled out extreme measures when it was needed and mostly looking back I can only remember the rainbows.
Being a mother now, I can totally see that it was her hurricane strength that raised us, that helped her survive the long summer days of Arizona with three children at home, that put up with my never-ending messes and calmly showed me how to organize (once she got me started, I loved it). We were constantly cutting and sorting coupons, going for epic trips to Smittys and Target where she patiently let me organize the cart (and even kept her cool when I tipped it over once or twice). She helped us pick out back to school clothes and supplies, washed and folded endless laundry, packed our bags for camping trips and added notes in our lunches. She stayed on top of us to finish homework, study for spelling tests, even if it was alongside a dinner out with the family. She volunteered in all of our classrooms, and attended nearly every sporting event. She threw birthday parties, hosted Christmas mornings with magical Christmas trees in the corner and carefully picked presents for each of us underneath. She cleaned up after dogs and cats, and babies and teenagers. She helped to build a church from the ground up, gave her time when it was asked and made sure we were pretty much on time on Sundays. When we moved across the country, she found part-time work and reached out of her comfort zone to make new friends. She helped nurse my father back to health when we nearly lost him, took many road trips across the country with the whole family, and always captured our family moments on camera. She said goodbye to her children one by one as she moved them into college dorm rooms, but has never stopped being our support system. When we went through heartbreak, she had our backs. When we won awards and new jobs, she was our biggest cheerleader. She is a warrior - but her fight is more beautiful than a rainbow. She shows all her colors when needed, probably most fun when she was pink or yellow, but there were some reds and blues mixed in as well.
In reflecting on my own mothering as of late, I'm trying to find the rainbow moments, I know there are many - but under the current conditions, I feel more like a hurricane. My patience is thinner, my voice raises faster, and I am at my wits end on how to stop my older one from knocking his sister over. I know I am being harder on myself than I should, that soon things will go back to normal and routines can be made again. I miss the variety in our days, of people and places, but mostly I miss my composure - that behind closed doors is easier to loose it as the days and routines blend together. (How many diapers did I change today? Wait that was yesterday? When did you last bath?) * I also realize that above anything else, motherhood has made me want to be a rainbow for my children, being my best for the sake of them, that they can soak up moments filled with love and smiles and fun - so its what I will keep striving for - and give myself a break for when I feel like I'm falling short.
This mothers day I am thanking my mother for her boundless love and her hurricane strength. Thank you for giving me a childhood filled with special memories and a friendship that withstands the distance today. I hope that I mother in your image, that these hard moments will fade and instead the rainbows will be what we all remember most.