The bleak January night stared back at me glumly through my apartment window. It was only around 6:30 in the evening, but winter made the night’s shadow come earlier and my endless day seem longer. My husband wouldn’t be home from work for another 4 or 5 hours, and after a long day at school and a long night of mothering ahead of me, I felt like I simply couldn’t take anymore. The walls of our tiny apartment seemed to close in around me. I had been counting down the days for four months, September through December, waiting for the big switch when my husband would come off his evening shift. However, after going over the budget one last time, we realized we just couldn’t do it yet. Feeling overwhelmed, alone, and insecure, I looked at my three darling children sitting at the kitchen table in front of me. Unaware of my raging emotions, they colored happily and chatted with each other. I looked at my oldest daughter, who was being homeschooled by a friend while I myself finished school. What kind of mother has to have someone else homeschool their daughter? Was I involved enough with what she was learning? Maybe I’m supposed to be doing flash cards right now, or reading an educational novel to her, I thought. I glanced at my quiet 3 ½ year old daughter, busily coloring away. She had just started pre-school and came home with worksheets to complete each day…worksheets that had been collecting dust in a corner of our counter due to my negligence. What if she never learns her alphabet, ever? What if everyone in her class gets a sticker except her, because I forgot again? As I looked at my almost-one year old son, I wondered if we spent enough time together, considering I spent the mornings in school. Do we bond enough? Should I be doing some kind of sensory activity with him right now instead of letting him eat crayons?
Tears filled my eyes and anxiety my heart as I wondered how I would make it through the night, let alone the rest of the semester. In this moment, it seemed so hard just to put supper on the table by myself and make sure my children brushed their teeth. As I dealt with my emotions, my daughters looked up from the table. “Mom, will you color with us?” they asked. My youngest daughter, smiling, offered me a page in her Dora coloring book. “We love it when you color with us!”
Coloring seemed like such a simple thing to do in the middle of my chaos. Here I was, apparently behind in every aspect of mothering, and all my children wanted to do was color. I was thinking about that educational novel I should be reading to them when I heard the Holy Spirit gently say to me, Just color. I paused for a moment. Just color, I heard again. I took a deep breath, sat down, and grabbed some crayons. Just color. Such a soothing, simple thing to hear the breath of God say. As I grabbed a crayon and forced a smile, the things I had been worrying about started to fall off my shoulders. The smell of waxy crayons and the sound of my children’s laughter began to heal my broken spirit. Just color.
Dear Mothers, I pray this blog is a “just color” message to you. I pray these simple words dare your heart to take mothering a day at a time: simply, fully, fearlessly. I think the shadows of guilt, comparison, and fear can ruin this mothering journey way more than feeding our kids sugared cereal or letting them watch too much TV. I invite you to pull up a chair, take a deep breath, and get out your crayons. It’s time to just color.