I remember the first time Mother’s Day made me cry.
Chris and I had just slipped onto a pew at church. Service had already started. Opening prayer and worship were over and they were starting the church announcements. All of a sudden our pastor asked for every mother to stand up as he spoke beautiful and encouraging words about the sacred job of being a mom. They had a special musical presentation for the moms and handed out flowers to each one. The whole congregation was on their feet by then to give the moms a standing ovation. Although I was standing, I was barely still upright, as I clung to Chris for support, tears streaming down my face. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to cry generally and especially not in public. Crying is such a rare occurrence for me that Chris always looks at me like he’s seeing a yeti or a ghost whenever it happens. But he wasn’t staring at me this time. He wasn’t shocked at all. He knew exactly why I couldn’t stop the tears from falling over my nose.
For the past few years, Chris and I had experienced heartbreak while trying to start a family. We’d endured multiple unexplained miscarriages. That Sunday, Mother’s Day had snuck up on me. The church’s Mother’s Day program felt like a gut punch on my defenseless heart. I just wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for it at all. I’d mastered the art of politely making an excuse to bow out of a conversation that had turned all mom-talk. My mom friends had every right to speak in excited tones over the daily miracles they saw in their kids. I didn’t want to dampen those convos with my watering eyes. It was all still so raw. But that day in church, I had no warning, no ramp up. It was full on Mother’s Day. And frankly, it was horrible. I could feel people looking at me, wondering why I wasn’t smiling and celebrating. I couldn’t keep the tears from rolling so I concentrated on quieting the sobs. At least my heart could break silently if it had to break. I just wanted it all to be over so badly.
Chris and I are still on our fertility journey. I’ve seen so many brave women bare their souls and talk in depth about their journey and they’ve encouraged me to start doing the same. There’ll be another post here on the blog soon that goes into more about that faith walk. That Mother’s Day in church made me suddenly aware of something that had never crossed my mind before Chris and I faced our own struggle to have a baby.
For some women, Mother’s Day isn’t a happy day.
After service, I was upset with our church. I thought wouldn’t it have been nice if there had been some recognition, any at all, of the moms who had lost children, women who had tried but never had children or even children who had lost their moms. What about the scared young pregnant woman who’s facing motherhood all alone or the foster mom who wanted desperately to adopt the child but lost that fight? I see now that there was a bit of self-righteousness in my disappointment in our church. Before I had my own personal experience with this specific type of loss, I had never thought twice about what this other group of forgotten moms go through on this holiday. I was mad at our church for doing what I had done for years. I think that’s part of why God gives us hard experiences. Now that their story is mine, I won’t forget them. I can’t. They’re me.
So this Mother’s Day, I wanted to do something special for forgotten moms. I knew helping other moms would help me get through an otherwise tough day. That’s always a remedy for feeling low: Do something kind for someone else! At a minimum, it takes your mind off of your own struggle, at least for a moment. But even more powerfully, you’ll develop an appreciation for all that is going right in your life and you’ll realize that you’re not alone in your area of hurt. Everyone is going through some kind of storm. You’ll find unexpected strength in helping someone else through theirs.
HANDMADE JEWELRY DISHES FOR THE MOMS OF MERCY HOUSE
I decided to make DIY clay marbled jewelry dishes for the moms of Mercy House. Mercy House is a non-profit that takes in single moms who have no one else to help them during their pregnancy and first days as a mom. These women are often scared and financially incapable of securing the necessities of first-time motherhood. Mercy House takes them in, ministers to their physical and spiritual needs and educates them on the skills they’ll need once their little ones arrive. Mercy House is such a beautiful example of women coming alongside another woman and saying, “You are not alone. We are with you and for you.”
I found this DIY how-to on A Beautiful Mess. I absolutely fell in love with the swirls of dancing colors and, I mean…come on! It’s a gorgeous dish for jewelry!! Of course I was in! A Beautiful Mess made the experience easy and fun. I actually went back to the store for MORE clay because I enjoyed making these so much.
You can definitely do this project as a gift for any occasion and for any shero. It’s a fun and creative way to brighten any woman’s day!
Here’s the how-to with a few tips from my experiences:
1) 1 lb of Sculpey (oven bake) white clay
2) 2-3 pops of colors of Sculpey (oven bake) clay (you can do 1 bright color per dish or mix and match combos)
3) 1 black and 1 grey Sculpey (oven bake) clay (this is optional and depends on the ultimate look you want)
4) A jar (to roll out the clay)
5) An oven-friendly bowl, about 6” wide
6) A 5” or so round container (you’ll use this to cut out the circle from your finished marbled clay and then place your clay in the oven-friendly bowl)
7) A clay knife or X-acto knife (or a razor blade)
8) Gold gilding paint
9) A very small paint brush
10) Wax paper
11) Glaze (optional)
1) Take 2 small portions of the white clay and roll out 2 rolls on the wax paper using the palm of your hand (about 6” long each)
2) Take a very small portion of the black and roll out a very thin sliver, 6” long
3) Take a pretty small portion of the grey and roll out a thin sliver, 6” long
4) Roll 1 roll each of the same size of your 1-3 pops of color, 6” long
Here’s a pic of the relative dimensions of all the rolls:
5) Make 1 giant roll by twisting all the rolls around each other.
6) Then use your palm to roll that into one, long snake-like roll on the wax paper.
7) Then twist the ends of the roll in opposite directions to make the colors appear more like the stripes of a candy cane. NOTE: You may have to gentle roll in opposite directions from the middle to the ends to really get tight candy cane stripes. If you roll too hard and it breaks, no worries. Just smoosh that joker back into the same place and keep rolling!
8) Twist the ends around each other to make a two strand rope, about ½ the size as in #7.
9) Repeat steps 5-8 at least twice. NOTE: The more times you do this, the more the colors meld together and create a softer swirl pattern on the dish.
10) Smoosh the clay into a ball, making sure that all your colors are prominently on the top of the ball. You can pull apart and re-smoosh in order to get the colors to the top.
11) Use your jar or rolling pin to roll out the clay into a ¼” thick patty about 7” wide. Roll from different starting points (middle, top, bottom, sides) and in different directions. You’ll begin to see the how the colors move as you roll and you can start to direct them by kind of pulling them out as you roll. NOTE: Be careful not to roll too much and thin out the dough. The thickness of the dough will create the rim for the gold guilding paint. Also, dough that’s too thin can tear as you handle it.
12) Use your 5” wide can or jar to cut a 5” wide circle from the dough with your X-acto knife. NOTE: I used a razor blade that was in a plastic case/handle. Try to avoid pulling the clay as you cut it so you can have a sharp, thick edge to your circle, like the edge of a restaurant coaster. A blunt edge makes a great space for the gold paint.
13) Place the 5” dough into your 6” oven-friendly bowl. You want to use a bowl that’s slightly bigger than your clay so the clay disc sinks a little while it bakes to form more of a bowl like appearance.
14) Sculpey’s instructions say to bake it for 15 minutes at 275 degrees.
15) Let the bowl cool for about 10 minutes then gently remove the disc.
16) Paint the rim with the gold gilding paint. NOTE: At first I cheaped-out and bought gold metallic paint for $2 rather than the $8 gilding paint option at Michaels. When I got more clay at Hobby Lobby, I found a gilding paint for $5. When I tried it, I found that it was a GI-NORMOUS difference from the gold metallic paint, light years better. Friends don’t let friends cheap out on gold paint. Get the gilding paint! Their smallest container will be plenty…it really goes a long way.
Once it’s all dry, you can glaze the dish for a shiny finish (the glaze doesn’t make them stronger or safe to eat on). I glazed a couple of them, but I have to say, I prefer the more organic look of the unglazed dish.
My biggest tip is to spend time rolling the clay with your jar. You’ll get more of the soft marbled finish the more you roll (but avoid repeatedly rolling all the way to the edge so it doesn’t get too thin). You can even ball up the excess clay after you cut out your disc, roll it out again and make little dishes. They’ll be even more marbled than their predecessors. My favorite part was the gold gilding paint. It made the dishes look like a million bucks. I wanted to put gold gilding paint on everything. My utensils, pens, mugs, our dog Noah. Just kidding (no puppies were gilded in the making of these dishes).
I truly loved making these. When I delivered them to the moms of Mercy House, I included a piece of jewelry for their new dish! I also included a bit of Kindness Confetti that says, “You have what it takes inside of you. You are more than enough.” I’m hoping that message really encourages these first time mommies.
If you try this, be sure to tag #sparklegiving and #socialitepink on Instagram and let me know how it turns out! I’d love to see them. Ask me any questions below.
Sparkle On Loves!