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Lessons of one ceramic photo frame

A ceramic photo frame adorned with pink and blue roses and green foliage, sits in a place of prominence on my desk; it is a tangible reminder of pain and forgiveness.

It is a universal truth that, as moms, we will have moments where in a given moment we fall way short of the idyllic image of motherhood that we hold dear.

One spring day while purging and consolidating all of those things that accumulate in our home during the course of a year I carelessly gestured to one particular picture frame and said, "I don't need this frame, love the picture in it, but not sure why I have the frame, it doesn't match anything in here and it's not my style."

My then 13 year old daughter said softly, "I bought that from the treasure box in Kindergarten. I saved up for it because I knew it was special and I wanted you to have something very special." I sat dumbfounded at my own words, looking back and forth between she and my husband for some type of life jacket for this situation; I was absolutely, unmistakably horrified. I had accidentally kicked my daughter's feelings to the curb with a steel-toed boot.

Immediately I apologized but there were no words to make it better. How in the course of 8 short years had I forgotten the way that frame came into my life? I was so thankful that Macy boldly shared the history of the frame even though it was vulnerable to do so. I was frantically searching for words strong enough that would take away the sting of the moment for both of us. I could tell Macy felt badly for herself and for me too and was touched when I quickly realized that she was more concerned for me than she was hurt. A moment of uncharacteristic tenderness and understanding was shared between us.

She knows I love her; thank heaven! She had such empathy for my pain at saying something only the most insensitive of mothers would say; thank heaven!

"You can get rid it of momma, I know it doesn't match."

"Are you kidding me?" I said with tears in my eyes, "this picture frame is precious to me, I will cherish it forever and ever and I love you very much. I'm so very sorry!"

Macy gifted me this photo frame when she was 5 years old (I remember now!) but poignant was the gift she gave me at 13 years old, the gift of her grace at my unintentional insensitivity toward her. Grace for my failed memory which somehow in the course of time and mothering and busy days, lost track of the experience.

Sometimes we can be hurt by people who love us intensely, just doing their best to spring clean and they Swiffer away something that should have been more important. Be bold, be courageous, give the gift of sharing with a person when they do something that pains you. Be gracious and forgiving because otherwise YOU miss out.

Today I opened the back of the frame and looked at the photo inside. The photo is crudely cut for its oval frame with 5 year old scissors and 5 year old hands. It has jagged edges and is bent at her chin and folded where her forehead is...probably from her holding it tightly as she cut. Scrawled on the back is "Macy 5 years old." And the photo is in a frame that is lovely. It's my favorite frame.

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