A heart in the snow

As Valentine’s Day draws near, my mind drifts back to a cold, snowy evening, in the bleak of winter, many years ago.

It had been a wonky day. The kind of day when the to-do list is longer than the hours available; the kind of day that leaves your soul feeling squished, frayed, and a little unraveled. 

On this particular evening I attempted to multi-task, tending to the needs of my three school-aged children, in the same way a circus performer demonstrates the mastery of plate spinning. Let’s just say I didn’t get the gyroscopic effect quite right. 

I was literally flying around my kitchen trying to get dinner started, dictating spelling words to my son, quizzing him on math facts, emptying the dishwasher, and answering the phone. My then nine-year-old daughter Andrea innocently popped into the middle of this frenzy to ask me a question. I should have taken a deep breath, looked into her beautiful blue eyes, and calmly answered her. Instead, I was harried, and my response was short and snippy. She left the room, pulled her boots on, zipped her coat, and headed for the backyard. 

By the time Andrea came back inside, dinner was in the oven, homework was complete, and calm had replaced the mayhem of moments before. It was then I saw the disappointment registered on her face. I put my arms around her and asked for her forgiveness. I told her there was no excuse for my behavior and she did not deserve such shabby treatment.

Through the years when my children had been out of sorts, I put my arms around them and said, “I think you need a hug.” More times than not, it worked like magic. On this occasion, Andrea took my hand and led me upstairs, wanting me to look out the window. There, in the deep, pristine sea of white below, was a huge heart she had chiseled out with her footprints. She put her arms around me and said, “Mom, I thought maybe you just needed a hug.” 

A daughter’s snow heart years ago still sends a message

 I felt God’s gentle love tap through my tears. I listened. I sensed the message to slow down, that I didn’t have to be a plate spinner. I could just be the mom I could be – with all my broken, imperfect pieces. 

Andrea’s now 32 years old. I’m glad I thought to take a snapshot of her snow heart with my little instamatic camera. It still speaks to me. It reminds me (though I am still a work in progress) to press pause in the middle of chaos and simply breathe. It reminds me that no matter our age or circumstance, sometimes we just need a hug – snug enough to align all the scattered pieces of our heart. 

Happy Valentine’s Day.