Dirty dishes were stacked by the sink, and I was elbow-deep in dinner preparation. My four-year-old son appeared, blue eyes bright, sweat beading on his temples, presenting a gift: a fistful of flowers he had gathered from the backyard under the hot summer sun. Azaleas, lilies, daisies, and a few I couldn’t identify.
The lilies had been transplanted from my grandmother’s garden, and this was their only bloom until next season. Many were weeds. A yellow dandelion stuck out tall from the middle, its heavy head already drooping. Surely the little garden spot I was trying to create was now barren, the heads lopped right off the plants I had tended so carefully.
But a smile grew on my face as my arms circled my little man, still a toddler in so many ways. He reached for a paper cup to place the flowers in. I insisted on the crystal vase from the cabinet. We arranged that bouquet together, right there in the middle of the everyday family chaos.
The relationship between a mother and her children is full of dandelion moments. Tiny, backyard, everyday offerings of tradition and weeds that look a lot like forgiveness. Standing in the kitchen or school hallway or hospital room, hands clutched together. The millions of ways we grip tight and then let go, nod a yes, lift a chin, accept the handmade gift, find the lost sock, bring the lunch money.
I am grateful for the times my children overlooked my flaws and offered me a dandelion, a droopy bloom that they found peeking out of a crack on this path of motherhood.
In truth, the largest gifts my son and daughter have given me include loving me through all kinds of terrain: bouts of doubt, the failed cookie recipe, the dozens of times I was late to the carpool line. What a bud of mercy they hand me when they remember the time we danced in the kitchen instead of the notes I forgot to sign for school, the snap of anger that flew, and the nights I didn’t hear them crying in their rooms or tend to their hurt feelings.
What a gift my daughter’s words were when she offered, “It’s OK, mom,” when she was seven. I had watched her board the bus in her ragged old camping clothes, not wanting to argue. Thirty minutes later she called from the school office, distraught. It was picture day.
Only she and I know the glances of understanding we exchanged as I handed her a skirt, blouse and shoes to change into in that hallway bathroom. I told her she looked beautiful while I fixed her hair. I told her I was sorry I had forgotten. She smiled for the school photographer. Today you would never know that 30 minutes prior she had whispered, desperate, “Just please come.” (But we know. And smile.)
My grandmother’s lilies are poking through the ground again.
This post is a modified reprint from belovedinbluejeans.com.
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