It hasn’t been long since I started painting again. Less than a week, in fact, and you can read about that attempt in my last post [here].
So why on earth did I think I’d be able to paint something beautiful for my mum on Mother’s Day?
Anyway, the idea was to write out a Bible verse in Chinese and paint a simple border of flowers around it. Mum’s been struggling with ill health for a while now, so I wanted to choose something encouraging to comfort her.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
With the verse translated open on my computer screen, the next part was deciding the layout of the writing. Usually I’m more of a “spontaneous” artist- there are no mistakes, only happy accidents. However, for my mum, I wanted each and every word to be in exactly the right place, so the next twenty minutes were spent measuring out equal squares across the page, one square for one word. No, really. This is how I spent my Saturday afternoon.
Then writing out the verse in Chinese. I asked my Dad to check over the writing, since he’s a fluent reader, but he started reading out loud- REALLY loud-, almost giving the game away. In the end, I had to assume it was correct and flee back up the stairs when mum came over, wondering what the noise was about. “Subtle” is not a word you could use to describe my father…
I painted over the pencil, musing how my ancestors would have written their calligraphy with similar instruments too. I don’t think they would have used watercolour paint, though.
And finally, to paint the floral border, aka where everything went wrong. For some reason I had far overestimated my painting abilities. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it looked. In the end, I had to admit defeat. I cut out a bunch of flowers from old magazines and glued them down like a miserable five year old in an arts and craft lesson. By now it was too late to go out and grab a new card, so reluctantly I left it on the living room table the next morning (I wake up before my parents do on Sundays because my church starts earlier than theirs).
To be honest, I actually felt embarrassed and disappointed in myself for not producing what I had expected to. I felt like I could’ve given a better present and annoyed that I’d overestimated my abilities.
But my mum? When we finally met up later that day, she said she loved it. My mother is terrible at acting, so I knew she must be telling the truth.
“Are you sure?” I asked, incredulous.
“I can see how much effort you put into it,” she beamed back. “I appreciate that you chose that Bible verse for me, and even translated it into Chinese so I’d understand every time I looked at it.”
And then I got it.
My mother doesn’t care about expensive gifts or materialistic things from me. She loved my present because she knew how much effort I’d put into it- because it showed her how much I love her. My gift, small as it was, meant so much because it was a rare show of my gratitude for all that she has done for me.
I guess that’s what Mother’s Day is really about.
Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who has sacrificed so much for me. Now it’s my turn to look after you.