A Mom's Most Valuable Gems

I have an old, handmade cupboard that stands about three and a half feet off the floor.  A hack job of sorts, it’s comprised of mixed woods, saturated in some kind of stain or varnish, maybe Golden Oak or Vermont Maple, or maybe both.

It’s not pretty.

It has a set of shallow drawers at its base, some of them with flimsy, divided compartments.  The top has two small doors that almost meet when you close them.  The doors hold six glass panes, two of which are also partially stained.  With Golden Oak, or Vermont Maple, or maybe both.

Go ahead and take a peek inside.  You’ll see three or four shelves, shelves that slant downward towards the floor.

I’m afraid it’s not practical either.

But, even with its imperfections, or maybe because of its imperfections, I love this piece.  I think it shows a lot of gumption.

I use the cupboard as an oversized jewelry box, tossing bracelets, necklaces and watches onto the shelves, storing earrings in the divided drawers.  My most precious gems are contained within, symbols of what I hold dear.

There’s a string of nine plastic beads on a silky, yellow rope.  The middle bead is huge, like a small chunk of coal.  It is complimented on each side with four smaller beads, each deliberately placed to match the other side.  I can see the boy who strung them, a perfectionist early on, now, a young man who wears button up shirts to college.  He likes things a certain way, that one.

And, here, right beside my wedding band, is a metal disc, a pendant strung onto a piece of black yarn.  She attempted to engrave the piece, wanting to show me she had successfully conquered cursive writing all on her own, before reaching the third grade.  A heart is scratched onto the surface, and in perfect script, the word “Mom.”  Here is my over achiever.

What’s this?  A letter from the little one, thanking his father for giving birth to him!  Oh, how we laughed.  It’s not fair I stole it for myself, but it reminds me of his sweet, sweet, spirit.

And among the pearls, beside my father’s watch, I find a small red ribbon, frayed on the ends, with a tarnished safety pin in the center.  This doesn’t really belong to me either.

The ribbon goes to the boy for whom things came a little harder.  It represents tenacity and fearlessness.

The boy decided he wanted to use the diving board at the public pool, but to do so, he would have to pass the lifeguard's test.  He would have to swim the width of the pool.

I stood at the far side, cheering him on, praying he could do it.  He exhibited the ugliest form of freestyle on record, his arms windmilling, his head coming up every few seconds to gasp another breath.

But, he made it.  And with great pride, he pinned the required, red ribbon to his swimming trunks, and headed to the deep end.

He has shown me time and again, that all things are possible.

Yes, my most precious gems are in my jewelry box.  But, they're not diamonds, or rubies or anything of real value.  They are memories of four children who have enriched my life, four children who have shown me unconditional love.

These children aren't children anymore; they're all young adults making their way into the world.  Except, maybe for the little guy.  But, even he is way past knowing from whence he came.

My gems are reflections of four very different people, all who came with strengths and weaknesses.

They are imperfectly perfect, brimming with gumption.

It is my greatest privilege to be a mom to Ben, Mackenzie, Mitchell and John.


master of none said...

Speaking as a sentimental dad who still has a watercolor painted by his now 21-year-old daughter hanging on his refrigerator, I really could relate to this perfectly written column. There are tear-stains on my shirt, or are they Golden Oak or Vermont Maple?
This is a terrific piece, Jennifer. I hope that newspaper of yours publishes it!

Kymberly Foster Seabolt said...

This one made me cry. My jewel box holds the same treasures + a bracelet sent to me by a wonderful fellow writer. It says "Life Out Loud" on it and contains words to live by. Everyday. ♥