Muumuus and Mamas and Art, Oh, My!

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I saw a woman wearing a muumuu today.  Walking her tiny dog, a drop-kick dog, my husband would call it, she moved gracefully down the sidewalk.  Her multicolored, animal print muumuu swayed with her steps and the sight of it brought a smile to my face.

In fact, I smiled all the way home, memories of another lady in a muumuu warming my thoughts.  It was a long time ago, early grade school if I recall correctly, when a strange and fascinating woman took charge of our classroom for the day.  Our substitute teacher was a large woman, with a pleasant voice, and she wore a shapeless, flowy dress.  A muumuu, she called it, and the word rolled off the tongue in a delightful way.  It was from Hawaii, she informed us, a gift from her son, and spreading her arms out wide, she made a slow circle so we could admire the colorful raiment from all sides.

I don’t remember what this teacher looked like or what her name was.  What I do recall is the wonder of that day.  We watched her slow rotation in awe, captivated by this strange turn of events.  Like a gravitational force, this woman in her vivid, Hawaiian muumuu held the attention of an entire class of squirmy young children.

Now understand that I don’t have a good memory for detail.  My closest friends know this and love me anyway.  While I’m not quite as forgetful as Dory from Finding Nemo, it’s pretty darned close.  I remember impressions and feelings far more than day to day details.  So what was it about the muumuu lady that has stuck in my head for almost 40 years?  Why do thoughts of her make me smile?

I’m not sure I could have answered that, but for another seemingly unrelated event that happened this morning.  My young daughter proudly showed me her homework for our homeschool group’s art class.  She obviously liked her picture very much and I assured her that I thought it was quite good.  I asked a couple of questions about the assignment and turned to other duties.

Several minutes later, I caught her sister rescuing the piece of art from the garbage.  Confused, I searched out my budding artist, only to find her hunched and defensive, eyes pooling with tears.

“What happened?”  I asked, sitting near her, noting that she wouldn’t quite meet my eyes.

“You didn’t like it, so I was going to throw it away.”  She mumbled.

This was one of those weird moments in motherhood where I honestly couldn’t see where the miscommunication had happened.  I felt like an actor, thrust on the wrong set, thinking the script had gone one way, only to discover there had been a rewrite and I hadn’t gotten the memo.  I was flummoxed.  As we worked our way through my misstep, I was disturbed by one glaring fact.

My daughter had completely rejected her art because she had (erroneously) perceived that it wasn’t acceptable to me.

How often do we do that?  How often do we allow the perception of others to color how we see our art?  And lest you think I’m not talking to you, Mama, I assure you I am.  All mamas are creative.  All of us artistically arrange our days with the good of our families foremost in mind.  Juggling all that we do is a dance, an artful dodging of emotional landmines, an Oscar worthy performance of multiple roles, seamlessly blended into one marvelous personage: Mommy.

Yet we hide our magnificence in the dullness of duty.  We allow others to tell us what we should or should not be about.  What things are you passionate about that you no longer enjoy?  What parts of you have you let the haters maim, have you hidden deep away, have you secretly mourned because you know you aren’t fully being who God created you to be?

I think the muumuu lady has stayed with me because she was radiantly herself.  It didn’t matter that she was a large woman.  It didn’t matter if she wasn’t our regular teacher.  She was a woman who clearly loved kids, she was obviously enamored with her gifted garment, and for that one day she determined to bring us along on her particular journey of joy.

They say, “Go big, or go home.”  Like her colorful dress, the muumuu lady’s joy was vast and captivating.  Her delight became my delight and we were, for a moment, connected.  That is the impression she left me with.  Like I said, my memory for detail is minimal, but the feelings she evoked still warm me, decades later.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

This is what I want to be.  I want to be so uniquely me that I radiate the creativity of the God who crafted me.  I want my daughter to dance and create and exist in joy, not defined by human acceptance, but by the simple and profound fact that she is a child of our mighty, creative God.

Go big, or go home.

Let’s make it big, sisters!

Father, may we see the areas you have gifted us with that lie dormant.  May we find the joy that comes from walking out life in the way you uniquely designed us to.  Give us wisdom to guide our kids into their own beautiful bent, encouraging them to be big, for Your glory.  Amen.

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14 thoughts on “Muumuus and Mamas and Art, Oh, My!

  1. It boggles me to think of how lovely it would be to just ‘BE’
    comfortable in my skin, comfortable with how God has gifted me.
    comfortable and secure enough in my Savior to not worry
    about what others think, and to be so forgetful of self that I can serve others
    with joy and without hesitation. Ahhhhhh.
    Great post, fun and thought-provoking as usual. And I hope your young daughter
    understands now that her creation was really loved.

    Like

    • Sometimes I get glimmers of what full self-acceptance is like. Just glimmers though. It’s enough to keep me hoping.

      I do believe my daughter understands that I really liked her picture. However, the damage was done and nothing I could say would make her like it again. It’s so sad, and I know we all do this…allow the perception of others to suck the joy from something we previously loved.
      I have a couple of defining moments of that in my own life.

      So what can I do but implore my daughter to not allow that to happen and learn to not allow such times in my own life. Oh, sometimes I just long for the day I’ll be able to hang out with the One who will make me truly feel complete! Thanks for stopping in, Anita. Blessings to you this day!

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  2. Awesomely thought provoking Becky…. I shall wear my caftan with a smile today and think of you and what gifts I have been suppressing…….and perhaps take a step out of my comfort zone more to express my gifts as I uncover what they are.

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    • Ah, Bonnie. What a lovely word…caftan. Sounds much nicer than muumuu, doesn’t it? 😊. And isn’t it wonderful to uncover our gifts and find expression for them? It’s like unwrapping a present from God. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. “I want to be so uniquely me that I radiate the creativity of the God who crafted me.” Well said, Rebeca. I have a feeling I’m going to be carring your memory of the Muumu from now on! Such a strong image to remind me of radiating God’s creativity within me. I’m also praying that part of the radiance will be to celebrate God’s craft in others so they will feel valued, as instruments of God’s glory. Thank you, Rebeca!

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    • I was actually surprised by the spelling myself. It is a strange and fun word to me, for sure! I’m glad it was vivid for you too. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I hope to see you here again! Grace and peace to you today. 😊

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  4. Oh, Rebecca, such a lovely post. I don’t have little ones of my own, but was an elementary teacher (k-6) for over 20 years. I did my best to instill self-love – God’s love – into all the children I taught.

    Your post brought to mind one occasion I taught sixth grade. I asked all the parents to complete a questionnaire about their child. One of the questions was, “What is your student’s best quality?” One young girl’s form was returned with the question unanswered. I caught her mom after school, expecting her to say there were so many she couldn’t narrow one down. Unexpectedly, she said, “I thought about the question all weekend, and couldn’t think of one.”

    I was so saddened by her remark I took her daughter under my wing during the year to ensure she – and her mom – were able to see no end of qualities by the end of that year.

    Bless you for the mom you are. ❤

    Like

    • Such a sad thing, for a parent to not see the gifts in her child. What a blessing that girl had in you! Teachers like you have more eternal impact than we’ll ever know. Thanks for stopping by, Susan, and sharing. Grace and peace to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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