Art photo. That was my first thought when I saw this gorgeous picture: that the colors and the composition make it imminently wall worthy. I wanted to frame it and use it to decorate my suburban home that is full of greens and browns.
The irony of that first impulse is rich.
Because then I truly looked at this picture and saw her leg. My second thought: I could never hang it in my home. Not because it isn’t worthy of my Pottery-Barn-dream-by-way-of-IKEA aesthetic (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds) . But because my house is not worthy of this.
As a mom I worry about whether my childrens’ school lunches are too fattening or if my son’s soccer coach is turning him off organized sports or if one pair of snow boots will be enough to get them through a Minnesota winter or if we have enough health insurance to cover this next baby’s birth.
But this mother worries about if her child will have food at all. Or clothes. Or health care. Or safety. Or even, it seems, a mother.
As a woman I worry about whether I’m pretty enough or whether I’m accomplishing enough or if I’m safe enough in my very safe community. Lately I’ve been worrying about getting to exercise as much as I want.
As a woman she worries about… well, I won’t presume to ennumerate her worries. I’m afraid this picture says it all.
If I let my thoughts stop there, however, it will be a travesty. My broken-heartedness for this mother and her child, as sincere as it is, means nothing unless I act on it. But what can I do in the face of such suffering? (Surely all of us ask that question from time to time?) So tonight I gathered my children around me and told them that every day this week, starting today, we would consciously try to do one nice, out-of-the-ordinary, thing for someone else. It doesn’t have to be huge, just deliberate. And then we’ll report back at dinner time.
Tonight I made dinner for a friend’s family. My eldest son built a train track for his little brother so I could cook the meal. My second son helped my husband make the dessert. The third son? He ran around our legs in circles giggling and throwing non-sharp cooking implements around the kitchen.
The ache of the picture lessened a little.
Will you join our family dinner tomorrow night with your own story? What are the little ways you show kindness to other people? I’d love suggestions! (And – I have to ask – am I the only one who didn’t notice the woman’s leg at first??)