Being a mother is much like becoming a large glass windowpane. Easily you will become unnoticed. People will sit around you, enjoy you, and use the light that you illuminate in a room but will only acknowledge the sun, and look past your role in the beams. And yet, everyone wants the window seat.
“It’s a beautiful day outside,” they chatter. The weather, the birds, the great outdoors that is on display will be the center of conversation, all the while ignoring the sturdy framed window that works diligently to allow you to see right through her. And at so many times, that is the role a mother is called to, standing still so you can see through her.
These women of the glass are secure yet fragile. We are strong, yet so weak. After time, and disappointments we become worn out and dusty yet somehow remain beautiful and timeless.
My windowpane is full of streaks and smudges. If you look at me closely you will see tiny fingerprints left by my children in the moments where they put their arms out for my protection and smeared me as I came up short. Not every window has a sill and not every mother a guardrail. Sometimes, you fail them. Each time leaves a mark.
If you run your fingers along our edges you can feel the damaged grooves and rough ends caused by the late nights we stayed up to hold them while they slept. Or the first time we had to leave for more than three hours and panic and worry eroded our smooth flawless surface. The first time we heard wailing and learned the sting of helplessness because we couldn’t fix it, we felt the force weighing down our structure, chipping our painted border and splintering our outlines. Affairs, death, stress, cancer, and doctors meets overworked and underpaid. We keep bracing and trying frantically to brush off stains so you can still see the sun shine. Surely behind these dark blemishes the sun still shines.
There have been times that I got so tangled in my own cords that I couldn’t dress the blinds around me fast enough to conceal them from the darkness that sat pressed on my glass and caused cracks in my framework. My biggest fear is also a stark reality; they can see through me.
When dark days roll in and storms brew outside, and I tell them we’re fine, they can see through me. When life throws unfair balls across the high fence we have built I’ll flex for composure but they can see through me. When a medical diagnoses caused everything outside to stand motionless, I can still see my own mother struggling and bracing. Still she was cracking. You learn to place your hands on opposing walls to better hold not only your weight but their weight also.
I watched my sister nearly buckle beneath the burden of her divorce but somehow she stayed standing. We pretended that we didn’t see it, we tried to talk about the weather, but that only proved that we could see through her. The first time I had my credit card declined while trying to purchase gifts for my daughters first birthday I felt holes being poked all through my seams. She placed her hand on my tear stained cheek and though she only knew a handful of words she managed to tell me that it was okay. Then through her mumbled childlike whisper I could have sworn I caught her mouth 2 words, “glass woman.”
There’s nothing like the power of us women of the glass. We are bold and if you look at us closely, in us, you can see yourself. You can watch us scurry trying to hide our jagged pieces by smoothed wood and hanging curtains. It seems sometimes we forget that those wrinkles in our stitch work only add to our craftsmanship. Like battle scars they only raise our value.
Those who surround the window become the object of its affection. We stand taller, look clearer, and shine brighter, all because you stepped into the room. Though we are brawny we can be broken and rendered useless. What good is a window no one comes too? If we lose those who surround us the weight becomes too much to hold and we rupture, left in several large sections waiting to be gathered.
I have seen foolish men handle these precious women carelessly, and that clumsiness will sting you. Your fingers will bear tiny scars and grooves that will haunt you. You can try to deny it, spin tales in an effort to hide it, but anyone who looks closely at your hands will see the marks placed by the time you broke the glass woman. So handle her gently.
I try to remind myself that if I get knocked to my knees that’s the highest position to pray in. I beg Him to let His Spirit surround my weakness. I hope that that same spirit will live and breathe through me. I want them to see you, as they all look right through me. After all, what better person, than a glass woman, for the Lord to shine through? Yes, being a mother is much like becoming a large glass windowpane, and everyone wants the window seat.
Editor’s note: This essay was originally published by Spilled Milk Club.
Heather Thompson Day is a lecturer for Southwestern Michigan College, Purdue Tech University, and Ferris State University. She is the author of five Christian books and writer for The Spilled Milk Club. Facebook her, or check her out on Instagram.