My youngest daughter has lately fallen in love with the idea of rainbows. She painted one during her winter break art camp – complete with cotton ball clouds at the ends – and now has it proudly displayed on her little desk at home. I am not sure why she likes them – maybe it’s the contrast of colors, the symmetry or perhaps just the satisfying way they embody all the colors of the spectrum.
To find out, or rather, to encourage her rainbow obsession, I wanted to do something special for her involving rainbows. So one day last month, I arranged to go to her school for reading hour. I bought some lovely, handmade playdough in rainbow colors and brought along a book about a girl and her rainbow. (Of course, with the teacher’s permission), I showed up and surprised her. She and all her classmates spent the rest of the day making rainbows.
I like to surprise my kids. I’ve never been into practical jokes (which I think are just plain mean) but I do like to orchestrate the unexpected. These are what I call ‘random acts of mothering.’
Here’s another example. A few years ago, my eldest girl was learning about dinosaurs at school. One day, she mentioned to me that her teacher said dinosaurs used to live in Kuwait but had all died off and were now buried under the desert. I liked the story and decided to use it to have some fun with her.
The following weekend, we went to the beach and while the girls splashed at the water’s edge, I buried in the sand a few chicken bones I’d brought with me (saved from a weeknight dinner). A half hour later they came back and started building sandcastles. While they played in the sand, we talked about the different types of dinosaurs and what their bones might look like. When she finally hit dirt and uncovered a ‘dinosaur bone’, she was over the moon and spent the next hour happily digging and collecting more ‘specimens’. She still tells people about her discovery until this day and I’m hoping she’ll remember it as a magical and amazing part of her childhood.
The point of these random acts of mothering are to make fun and magical moments for our kids. In this way, I hope to at least once in a while move us beyond the standard, often canned, ways we celebrate our love for each other. I still organize the birthday parties and weekend activities that are expected. But the ones I truly enjoy are the unexpected, unusual ways I can show my daughters that I love them.
One time I hung colored streamers from our front door all the way down the hallway to the living room. When the kids came home from school, they were delighted and spent the whole rest of the afternoon running up and down the hallway, passing through the ‘hall of colors’. I’m not sure what impact these delights will have in the long run. I hope at the least they inculcate in them both a sense of wonder and a willingness to explore life.
Motherhood is an enormous, all consuming responsibility and the never-ending wants, needs and demands of a family can weigh a woman down. But I find that through these playful, unexpected random acts of mothering, I can inject a bit of levity and play into our daily lives.
For Mother’s Day, I’m planning a ‘random act of mothering’ that includes a treasure hunt. I’m still sorting the details but the plan will definitely require chocolate, some time spent outdoors and possibly a mani / pedi for me somewhere in the middle of it.
Happy Mother’s Day, Kuwait!