Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Handprint

(Laurie) The girls were so excited! We were finally going to paint their room. We were doing our own episode of the "complete room makeover." All the furniture was moved away from the walls and the plastic drop cloth was in place. Of course I was going to be a "good" mom and let my three children--ages three, six, and eight--help.

I began with the oldest. Alec did pretty well keeping the most of the paint on the wall. Only a little got on his elbow when he accidentally bumped the wet paint. Next came the six-year-old. Tripping over the drop cloth as she entered the room, Abby caught herself between the wall and dresser. She already had paint down one side of her body, and she hadn't even begun painting.

Frustrated by her clumsiness, I scolded, "Be careful, honey! You are going to get paint everywhere!" Apologizing, she stood at attention, waiting for her orders. Providing her with specific instructions, I handed over the paint roller.

She was a little surprised that it was more challenging than she'd anticipated. However, she was determined; she rolled most of the paint out of the roller. As she refilled her roller with paint, it seemed to have a leak at one end. It dripped down the roller, missing the paint pan (of course), and fell on the drop cloth.

She looked up at me with an "oops" look on her face. With little patience, I responded, "Don't step in it or you'll track it all over the house!" She finally finished her section of the wall, and now it was the three-year old daughter's turn. (What was I thinking?) I wiped my brow and sighed with exasperation. I tried my best to put on a "happy face" as my littlest bounced toward the room. She had been waiting patiently for "her turn."

As she walked in the door, she leaned in one direction to step around the furniture. As she did, she put her hand on the wall to brace herself. Immediately she removed her hand and looked at me with a stunned expression. "Avery, honey," I said, "you can't touch the wall. Remember, it's wet." I looked around for something to clean her hand, but found nothing. I pulled at my shirt. "Here, wipe your hands on this" I said. She apologized profusely as she excitedly approached the painting pan. I handed her the paint roller, and she did her best to get most of the paint on the wall.

She was doing great until she got off balance and leaned into the wall. Again, she forgot and caught herself with her hand. Suddenly I felt all the patience drain from my body. I had none left. I raised my voice impatiently: "Avery, don't touch the wall!"

Disappointed in herself, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, "I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to." I told her it was okay, and she wiped her hand on my shirt once again. I convinced her that Mommy could finish the rest.

Several days after finishing the project, I was unloading the dryer. As I began folding the clothes, I pulled my old paint shirt from the pile. I was shocked when I saw it. There on the front of my shirt was a perfect little green handprint. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gazed at it. You see, I had been so worried about getting the job done "right" that I had forgotten to focus on what was important--enjoying the journey with my precious children.

Now, every time I see that shirt, I am thankful that Avery fell into the paint that day. If she hadn't, I wouldn't have such a vivid reminder of how precious life is!

Lord, help me to remember that being a parent is a privilege, not a punishment. Please don't let the weight of my daily responsibilities rob me of my sense of wonder. Remind me that the children You have placed in my care are as individually unique as their handprints. I thank You, Lord, for each of my children, and I am grateful that You've given them to me. Amen.

Mother's Day idea for the grandmothers: use your kids' handprints on the gift so that it has a personal touch only they can give.

from Laurie and Sharon's book Hold You, Mommy.

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