Let me tell you a story. Come on in, make yourself comfortable.
There was this little girl. She went with her mum to a flea market one day, with $5 pocket money in her hand to buy whatever her heart desired. She slowly walked past all the stalls and examined all the knick-knacks on sale. On one table, she saw a beautiful vase with exquisite flowers painted all around it in colours so vivid they took her breath away.
Carefully, she picked it up and held it in her hands. She knew that she had found what she wanted. She handed over the money and walked away with her new treasure and a bright smile on her youthful face.
When she got home, she went to her bedroom with her vase and sat on her bed. “You are so beautiful!” she whispered in awe. Well, you can imagine her surprise when the vase answered back, “Thank you! But I wasn’t always this beautiful. In fact, I wasn’t always a vase!”
The vase went on, “In the beginning I was just a lump of clay. I was happy until one day, my Master’s hands began to pound me and roll me and poke me and push me. I cried out for her to stop but she just smiled at me. Just as I was able to catch my breath, I was thrown on a round spinning table where I got so dizzy I could hardly stand it. Again, I cried out for my master to stop but she continued, all the while smiling.
“I was poked and pushed and bent even more. I was stretched into shapes I never believed I could make and then, as I thought it was all over, she put me in the hottest oven! The heat was unbearable, my skin was burning and I begged for my Master to please take me out. All I could see was her face, smiling at me through the glass.”
“Finally, after many hours, the door opened. My master put me on a shelf and I began to cool down and feel much more comfortable. I should have known better than to feel relieved because as soon as I was cool, she picked me up again and began to decorate me all over with paint that had fumes so strong I couldn’t breathe. I cried and begged her to stop, but again, she just smiled.”
“Do you know what happened next? She put me back in the boiling hot oven. I shrieked and pleaded. I cursed and screamed. I was certain that I would not be able to stand this. Of course, I did survive but when the door opened, all I could think about was what she would do next.
“My Master handed me a mirror. I looked in the mirror and was astounded at what I saw. I was beautiful!
“Gently, my Master spoke to me. She said, ‘I know how much it hurt to be rolled and poked and squashed out of shape, but if I had let you remain a ball of clay, you would have dried out. Spinning around on that wheel was a horrible experience, I know, but if I had stopped when you asked, you would have broken. The oven was hot and unpleasant, I understand – and it hurt me to put you in there – but if I hadn’t put you in there, you would have cracked. when I decorated you with that foul-smelling paint, I know you didn’t like it, but without that paint, you wouldn’t be nearly as colourful. That second time in the oven – THAT’S what made you strong, and proved to you that you could handle anything. Now you are complete and you are so much more exceptional than how I imagined you would be when you were a little lump of clay.’”
The vase explained, “This is my story, little girl. It’s the story of how I came to be my beautiful self.”
The little girl looked at her amazing vase and tried to imagine the lump of clay it had once been. Then she got up and walked to the mirror. She smiled. She liked the little lump of clay she saw staring back and she started to imagine all the incredible ways she could grow.
Motherhood is a scary and incredible privilege. We are entrusted with precious lumps of clay and given precious few years to mould them into beautiful works of art. It’s our responsibility to guide them, shape them and add colour to them. It’s our job to ensure that when we are finished our work on them, they are strong and beautiful. We sometimes need to poke and prod, turn up the heat and push our children into situations that make them uncomfortable, and in doing so, we teach them that we believe in their potential.
Trust in yourself, look at the beautiful balls of clay you’ve been given and see the spectacular Vases they will one day become. Then get to work.
ABOUT MICHELLE: When Michelle is not drowning under a mountain of laundry, she writes commercials and yells (gently and encouragingly) at her children. She loves her three little people more than she ever believed was possible. Oh, and her house is not Pinterest-worthy.