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.