I don’t have any Norman Rockwell paintings in my house, but I always liked how he had the ability to capture personalities and real life in a painting. If someone was painting my life, I think that Norman Rockwell might be the best artist to do it justice. Maybe.
There was the day a few weeks ago when I returned from dumping a load of yard waste into the burn barrel to find my boys emptying our bag of potting soil on my flowers. With hearts happy to please Momma, they told me that they were “mulching my gardens.” We had to re-scoop the the potting soil to use for garden “starts.”
Every mom likes to talk about the bouquet of dandelion blooms that her boys hand to her, all wilted. Little boys with beaming smiles proclaim, “Mommy, I picked you flowers to put in your vase.”
Some days are tough, really tough. As a mom, you hang your head and feel the “weight of the world,” the lies of Satan telling you that you aren’t good enough as a mom and you should just give up. Failure. Depression. Then, a little boy hands you a note before bed that says, “To: Mommy, I am sorry I was mean to you. Will you furgive me? Luv,…” I take the rolled-up-note and place it next to my Bible and journal of thanks. It’s a visual reminder, another moment of grace. Hope seeps in and new strength to persevere is reborn.
One day, my painting would have been of the crazy neighbor lady (guess who?) chasing a ball down the road while her boys hop around and cheer. There’s no runner’s form — just a mom running for all she’s worth to grab the ball before a car careens around it or over it. Littlest boy sees Mommy return with the ball and thinks he’ll throw it again to watch Mommy run again. Mommy stops that effort immediately.
Another painting might show Mommy picking dirt out of her ears and leaves from her hair, thanks to mischievous boys. Three little boys had the grand scheme to play a joke on Mommy, thought it would be hilarious to dump a bucket of dirt on her head while she was weeding. It took three scrubbings to get all the dirt out of her hair. The next day, she was still cleaning dirt out of her ears.
Then there’s the moment when a boy brings a bucket of daffodils and proudly proclaims, “I brought you flowers, Mommy!” Mommy asks from where he got the flowers. He excitedly declares, “I dug them up” and points his little finger at a spot where Mommy had planted daffodils last spring. Someday, Mommy’s garden won’t be dug up and flowers won’t be picked. Someday, Mommy will miss little grubby hands holding wilting bouquets of flowers “to fill Mommy’s vase.”
Three little boys are scrubbed for church, wearing ties and dress shirts and boy saddle shoes. It’s picture-taking time at church for the bulletin. Mommy tells her boys to head straight to the picture-taking room immediately after the service and before snacks. Church ends, and Mommy meets her boys immediately after in the picture-taking room. Littlest boys presents himself all smiling. There are dirt streaks up and down his nice shirt and dress pants. He looks like he was eating chocolate in church. Grammie must have given him a crayon, which he managed to get all over his clothes. The photographer tells Mommy that we can photo-shop his clothes clean. Too bad, it’s not that easy to clean little boy clothes normally!
Norman Rockwell might have enjoyed painting the “modern” boy telling his daddy that while bike-riding in the driveway, he only got one scratch on his daddy’s car. “Just one scratch, Daddy!” Daddy looks at that one, very long scratch across his door. A son’s autograph.
Then there’s the perfect bathroom painting: Mommy checks on her boy who has been in the bathroom for a little too long. She finds the toilet plunger with a toilet paper bow around it. Littlest boy tells her, “I was decorating the plunger, Mommy!”
A favorite painting might be the one of littlest boy and sister sitting side by side, wearing matching cowboy hats. Baby sister’s is falling down over her eyes. Little smile peaks out. Littlest brother says, “Livvie and I match!”
Best painting might be of a boy with pockets full of carrots and shirt off, coming in from the garden. With hands extended, little boy shows Mommy the carrots he dug up.
One more painting in the collection might be of a little boy at a recent wedding. The wedding is outside at a beautiful historical site. We sit outside on chairs, in the shade of a tree. Middle boy looks at a nearby tree and asks, “Mommy, can I climb it?” He would get a good view of the wedding that way! Wedding ends, and middle son finds a tree to start climbing, just as soon as he filled his tummy.
Life is all about perspective. Life events can be seen as frustrations, irritations, inconveniences, or they can be seen as gifts, treasures, memories, and tokens of grace. Each day, we paint a picture in the hearts of our children. We can paint our days with strokes of grace or with slashes of anger. What paintings do our children have?