“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” –Mitch Albom, For One More Day
I came home from school one day in the second grade. My mom was going through my backpack and noticed some artwork that I had done in my art class.
“Wow, Shannon, this is great! I love how you used all those beautiful colors together,” she said.
“Well, Mrs. P said it wasn’t very good. She said that she didn’t like those colors and that I should just throw it away,” I responded unfazed.
This was not the first time that Mrs. P said she didn’t like something that I did in art class. She was the elementary school art teacher. Most times, when we think of children’s art teachers, we think of happy people that wear funky clothes and flowers in their hair. They love their jobs because they spend all day around color helping kids express themselves. Well, not Mrs. P. She probably should’ve retired several years before, and it seemed liked she almost enjoyed squishing kid’s dreams. Whenever it was our day to go to art, we would line up like we were all going to our personal executions. In class, she gave her orders and we were to complete the task according to her standards exactly. If not, it was typical of her to take our art papers that we were working on and throw them away in front of the class. One time, she actually took a crayon and scribbled over someone’s paper because she felt it wasn’t his best effort. We all suffered from “art trauma.”
This really bothered my mom. You see, my mom was an artist. She had recently graduated from the Memphis College of Art and this was her passion. I’m sure watching me hate art was super personal to her. So, she decided to do something about it.
One day, we were walking into the art room allowing all the blood to drain from our bodies as we anticipate the emotional blows, I looked up and saw my mom standing in the front of the classroom behind Mrs. P. Oh my gosh! My mom. She was smiling at all of us coming in, and she gave me a little wink. Suddenly, my heart started beating again. What is she doing here? Wait…is she volunteering? Yes!
We all took our seats and Mrs. P started her lesson. As we began our activity, Mrs. P went around the room hovering over us. Sometimes she would stop and watch what a student was doing, and we would all just pray for that poor soul because they were probably about to get slammed. Other times, she would just move on. It was like art roulette. You never knew if you were going to be the victim. But, today was different. When Mrs. P started throwing insults, my mom would come behind her and encourage. When Mrs. P would hurl disappointment, my mom would insert compliments. The entire air in the class was different. We had a defender. We had a voice to overthrow our giant. I was never so proud to be hers.
My mom was the most amazing mom…she still is. She has taught me to be my true authentic self, and that laughter is a blessing that we don’t lean on enough. She is who she is, and makes no apologies for it. She feels deeply and loves even deeper.
But, the thing I’m most grateful to my mom for is that she became a Believer. To say that her upbringing was difficult would be an understatement. But, instead of repeating the cycle, she stopped it. She dedicated her life to Jesus when she was in her late teens, and it has made all the difference. She broke the cycle of the generational sin and created a legacy of love. I will never be able to fully understand the hurt she went through as a child, but I don’t know if she will ever fully understand how grateful I am that she made that decision. I know it has affected my life in amazing ways. Thank you, momma.
Mother’s Day is this week, and I wanted to honor my mom because I love her so much. I have an awesome mom. But, I know not everyone feels the same way that I do about their moms. Many people have been abandoned, abused or crushed by their mothers. Mother’s Day brings feelings of resentment or bitterness. Some wish to be mothers, but have not had the opportunity to fulfill that dream…and it hurts.
But, Mother’s Day is really so much more than honoring our biological mothers. You may not have had the best relationship with your mom, but you probably have a “momma” that has taken you under her wing and showed you love like a mother should. If you don’t have children, you have the opportunity to be a “mother” to the children on your street, or in your community. I have my own children, but I also parent many others. Love has no understanding of biology. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Celebrate the moms in your life this Mother’s Day. Thank those who have come alongside you in your life. The ones that have showed you love and guided you on the way. Love the women who made that heart impression on you. We are who we are because they were there.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34