Those school pictures from back in the day run together, don’t they? I can’t for the life of me decipher which grade each one represents unless I find Mama’s scribbling on the back.
But with one picture, I don’t wonder for even a second. I remember like it was yesterday: fifth grade, my departure from ‘little people’ to ‘big leagues’!
Just days before my middle school debut, my neighbor called. She invited me to her house. I could tell by Lanette’s excitement that I needed to hustle!
I darted to the door but got no time to even catch my breath. There she stood, wondering what took so long. She grabbed my sweaty arm and dragged me to her room. There across her bed lay a lavish display of new clothes right out of the pages of those luxurious catalogues.
I stood “oohing” and “ahhing” as this fashionista modeled a slew of outfits. Every ensemble rocked! We coordinated a drop-dead-gorgeous look for every day of the week, with leftovers!
I felt sheer exhilaration for her. She was already beautiful. Now she sported the wardrobe to match!
I couldn’t help but daydream about such things. While other students emptied the girls’ department at Belk in preparation for the big day, fashion attire wasn’t even a blip on our radar. My single mama worked three jobs just to keep things afloat for her four mostly ungrateful children. My cousins’ hand-me-downs sufficed as “school clothes.”
For days I pondered the beautiful outfits hanging in my friend’s closet. One pair of overalls especially fueled my affections. I described every detail to Mama, including the embroidery on the front pocket, more than a few times.
Little did I realize that each time I mentioned those overalls, it likely put a dagger straight through Mama’s heart. My deep longings reminded her all over again of her inability to provide for us what other children automatically assumed.
The night before my first day of school, Mama came in my room to pray with me before bed. (What I wouldn’t give to have just one of those prayer times back! Just one! I considered it drudgery then, but Mama knew each prayer secured another piece of my foundation. Such a wise woman!)
Imagine my utter shock when I opened my eyes, and right in front of me lay those larger-than-life overalls with the beautiful embroidery on the front!
I leaped out of that bed so swiftly I nearly toppled her. (Now that I’m a mama, I grasp the joy she received watching my joy.)
Of course, I wore my new bibs that first day. Never mind that it was August—I strutted those velvet overalls as if snow coated the ground! Every time I put them on, I felt beautiful. And yep! Those coveted duds obviously made the cut for school pictures!
I don’t begin to know what Mama forfeited to buy those overalls. I guess I’ll never know. But I’ll never forget the price she paid to make me feel beautiful. I was too young and immature to realize it then, but it was never truly the outfit that made me feel special; it was Mama’s sacrificial love that wrapped around me every time I wore them.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the remarkable mamas who sacrifice so much to make all the pieces fit. Your children may not recognize it now, but they will. It matters!
For comments or prayer, please contact Dr. Lanier at HopeCommunityChurch.tv.