Photo taken on Mother's Day 2013
For many years, my mother had in her possession a handmade jewelry box that was proudly displayed centered on top of her bedroom dresser. It was a simple cardboard box about the size of two bricks stacked on top of each other with a lid that folded closed inside the top opening. It was covered in uncooked wagon wheel-shaped pastas that had been glued over the entire surface of the box with what I imagine must have been Elmer's glue, and it was finished off with a glaze of glossy red spray paint. This jewelry box had been handcrafted by my younger brother during his elementary school days, and I'm pretty sure it was given to my mother as either a Mother's Day or Christmas gift.
For some reason, I have thought a lot about that box as Mother's Day has approached this year. I know it wasn't the prettiest of things, and it didn't match the color of the room's décor or the bedspread. Truth be told, it was kind of clunky looking and, well, it was made of cardboard and noodles. But if you were to open it up, you would find all of my mother's nicest necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. I know, because as a young girl, I loved to open up that box and play with my mother's jewelry.
What's impressed me the most as I reflect upon that jewelry box is the fact that my mother treated it as a fully functional piece of furniture and she didn't stash it away somewhere unseen; she graciously accepted the gift as it was given and proudly used it for its intended purpose. In so doing, I would guess that she sent a message to the giver, my brother, that she was grateful for his efforts and that she loved and appreciated him for it. Because she used it over such a long period of time, she sent a message to me. Now that I think about it, there must have been a certain amount of humility involved in giving up owning an actual, store-bought jewelry box in favor of one that was awkward and, needless to say, looked nothing like a jewelry box.
I've recently been thinking of that box as a metaphor for motherhood. I once had expectations for myself and what I thought my life would be like as a mother. Then I became a mother. I know I never anticipated that motherhood would be so awkward at times. Like a misplaced pasta noodle that didn't line up in perfect symmetry on the box, I've had many moments where I've been a bit "off" as I've tried to navigate my way in my responsibility and role as a mother. There has been a certain amount of humility involved in giving up my ideals of perfection in favor of accepting myself and my life with all of its imperfections. And maybe motherhood doesn't always look quite exactly as I once thought it would, but I gratefully accept the gift given of God, and I love and appreciate Him for it, because I know that just like my mother's jewelry box, some of my most precious possessions and experiences--my family, my children, and the good and bad times that we share--are safely contained within the "cardboard box" that is diaper changings, endless laundry, interrupted sleep at night, a sink full of dirty dishes, messy floors, etc.
Truer words were never spoken: It's what's inside that counts!
This post authored by Amber