Mothers’ Portrait

I’ve taken on an ambitious project;-
To paint a picture of ‘Motherhood’
With as few words as possible,
And from an already limited vocabulary.
Obviously I got stumped even before I began,
Because I was faced with a simple question:
‘When does it begin, and where does it end?’
If my memory serves me right,
I’ve been cared for by she who bore me,
By family, friends, and complete strangers.
But to paraphrase and retrofit a certain teacher,
“Though you have been cared for by many,
You do not have many mothers….”
I know of those who were mothered
By sisters, even fathers, grandparents,
And by those who had none to call their own,
Who never bore, but left legacies of motherhood.
You could call it ‘a calling’;
An institution whose best examples
Have transcended race and every kind of barrier.
It’s prime virtues are the same for the rich or poor
Black or white, slave or master, ancient or modern.
Sacrifice. Care. Compassion. Hard-work. Grace.
It goes beyond nine months of discomfort, stress and pain;
It is more than sweet lullabies and warm goodnight kisses,
More than a place to hide when the fruits of mischief catch up,
More than spankings and warning glares and twisting ears,
More than food on the table and fancy cloths to wear.
So much more than what can ever be listed or appreciated…
The little things, the big things and everything in-between;
It is the listening ear and the affectionate touch,
The comforting embraces and the encouraging words,
The supple strength and ample grace that brings calm,
…more than a lifetime’s worth of patient teaching and loving guidance.

A thousand brushstrokes later and this portrait will still be incomplete;
And as for the question that stumped me,
I think it’s best left rhetorical.
I wish I could paint the perfect picture
Of all the beautiful things that ‘make a mother’…for her;
As a tribute, in her living honour…her medal and trophy;
To encourage and comfort her in all the ways I seem incapable of.

#I Corinthians 4:15
#Deuteronomy 5:16
#Ezekiel 19:2, 10-11
#Proverbs 31

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