“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
This year, all of a sudden, my hands have begun to look like my mom’s. And as they have taken on some of the look of hers, I have seen my hands doing things my mom used to do so skillfully. She had a particular way of holding a tomato when she diced it in order to keep all the layers from slipping apart. She was so particular, my mom. She was an artist in the genes and in training and it came out in everything she did in our home: the way she sprinkled paprika just so on the tops of deviled eggs (no haphazhard clusters there!), the way she used a crinkly-edged dough cutter for the tops of her mince tarts at Christmas and dusted them so beautifully with cinnamon sugar (was it just my imagination, or did she actually manage to place those sugar crystals in such a way that they’d catch extra light?), and perfectly folded under a wrong-sized table cloth on our dinner table so that every edge hung just right.
I, on the other hand, am a less precise person. No matter how sincerely I believe that the pieces into which I am cutting a cake are uniform while I’m doing the cutting, they’re all, uh…wonderfully unique in the end. Yes. My table is rarely graced with a table cloth, but it’s been dyed lovely shades of eggshell pink, green and blue since Easter and we’re really growing quite fond of the patterns that were made that fateful morning when three separate bowls of egg dye got upset nearly all at once. And my pie crusts, well, let’s just say my style is “rustic”.
My mom and I used to laugh at my failed attempts at decoration, precision and artistic form. I just assumed I had no talents in those areas. But another thing if I’m honest: A lot of times I was just too scared to try. I mentioned earlier in the week how I avoid hard things. I think I just always assumed that, because my mom was naturally talented at so many things, she never had to try. But in reflection on her, I know that’s not true. My mom worked hard. When I try to think of the woman who has come closest to the tireless, faithful, unceasing effort of the woman depicted in Proverbs 31, my mom comes to mind. I know there are others but she’s the one I know by heart and memory. If I search back into my memory now with my own understanding as a mother and a homemaker and wife, I see things that I didn’t see when I only had the eyes of a child (or a childish woman, for that matter).
Over this last year, finally, I have spent some serious time considering my roles as a wife, a mother, and a homemaker. What I have realized is that my jobs will never be done. They are not the types of jobs that should ever be done. Just like the process of being sanctified, changed into the person God wants me to be, it won’t be done until I go home to be with Him. In fact, my roles are a part of that process that He has so graciously provided for me. Carolyn Mahaney over at Girl Talk wrote something quite awhile ago. It struck me then and it’s coming to mind now as something my mom could have written, too:
“I got out of bed each morning so that I could do everything I did the day before.
I washed the dishes so they could be dirtied again.
I ironed the clothes so they could be worn and wrinkled again
I wiped noses so they could run again.
I picked up toys so they could be played with again.
I mopped the floor so mud could be tracked on it again.
I cooked meals so that I could go to the grocery store again.
I made beds so they could be slept in again.
Some days I wondered: if I do all I do, only to have it undone, am I really doing anything?”
Carolyn knew, and I know my mom knew, too, that the resounding answer to that question is, “Yes!” And while she, with our dad, built our home and relationships and foundations for us she was being refined into something beautiful.
Tonight, in between paragraphs, my hands are caked in flour from rolling out pita bread dough. It’s what really made me think to write about this today in the first place. I am wearing my mom’s ring on my right hand (it was my dad’s mother’s before that) and my hands have caloused and there are lines where flour has marked and highlighted their roughness. It is my prayer that these rough hands of mine are a sign that I, too, am being refined, smoothed and shaped by my Redeemer into something beautiful. Just like my mother was before me.