As a flower, Hibiscus ranges from white, to pink, to orange and red. It’s beauty greets your eyes and leads you on a journey where your heart is fully fed. The diversity of its shape, it’s size and it’s color, even it’s shrub is outstanding, full of brilliance, full of elegance. My hands touched a hibiscus this week. It was at the swimming lodge by our home, where my children attended a week-long swimming camp. It sent the petals on it way, whirling through the air, these tiny specks bobbing, all through the air. A brilliance seemed to surround the flowers, all around them beamed, a great brilliance. It’s power I noticed, strikes you in the heart and in the head. For one brief moment, you too are like the Hibiscus, and brilliance fills your being wholly.

I imagine this is what great days in the summer are like with children. Brilliance like pink hibiscus flowers that, wholly fill your being with a joy, you may never have imagined, joy that you hope to capture, even if fleeting, for even now, you maybe wondering, how joy became your portion, with the demands of your children occupying every single minute of your day. As hibiscus flowers open up, as their brilliance radiates in full bloom, even if for a moment, you will feel joy, screaming through your pores, even when you lay helpless wondering how the summer days will last. My motto, take it one moment at a time. Summer days as a mom are supposed to be brilliant and they rarely are. The demands of your children are supposed to end once you address their needs, but they rarely do. The hot air is supposed, to want them to stay cool, even lay low if they can, but they never do. Yet through it all, how we mothers find ways to reach and teach, listen and lead the scenes, all of them from summer camps to summer schools, even for brief rare moments, leaves me thankful for the blessed assurance of Hibiscus.

I knew that summer days following homeschooling and a pandemic would be tough. What I didn’t plan for was to be sent home early after only day 2 of swimming camp with my middle child. I knew that anything with water would be a problem for him. But I also wanted him to learn to manage his meltdowns whenever he goes by water. Day 1 involved crying at the end of the day, because I didn’t bring a change of clothes. I was following the camps instructions and hoped for a better Day 2. It was disastrous. I wondered why I kept insisting that my son learnt in this way. The camp counselors called an hour into camp and noted he was crying. He wanted to go on the slides. His shorts had rivets. Campers with rivets are not allowed on slides. My son had a meltdown. They asked what to do. I said try saying Dad was on his way to get him. They did. He cried louder. I eventually came and got him. This was only Day 2. These meltdowns are dreadful. Especially when his minds cannot get past the denied access for example. It’s denial makes him cry non-stop, repeating the same phrases over and over again. Like ‘no slides.’ ‘But why.’ Nothing seems to end it. The anguish subsides for a moment when you remove him for the place causing the meltdown. He may still sob. But eventually, it comes to an end, and slowly his brilliance returns and surround his being. Day 3, armed with new swimwear and a change of clothes, meant that my son had a brilliant day. The utter brillance in his demeanor, left the counselors stunned. It was like night and day. We know, always that when the conditions are right, his being would be brilliant. The conditions were right the rest of the week. By Friday, the last day of swimming camp, he got an award for the individual with the most fun. His sister got one too for the best participation. She was instrumental with helping to ensure he had a great time at the swimming camp.

Looking back, the brilliance of this week were like those that surround hibiscus flowers I noticed at the swimming lodge. A brilliance seemed to surround us this past week with swimming, all around a great brilliance. From the meltdowns, to the upside down nature of mothering on the spectrum, the diversity of nurturing from moments to moments, keeps my head and heart fully fed with joy. Keep the brilliance of Hibiscus for mother’s during summer days.

I am in love with yellow daylilies. They started blooming this week at the back of our home. Naturally I was drawn to their colors. Something about yellow flowers in the middle of scorching summer heat was calming to me. Daylilies scientifically are known as Hemerocallies. Hemero for ‘day’ and Callis for ‘beauty.’ In essence they are considered ‘beauty for a day.’

Yellow daylilies

So for each of the yellow daylilies I spotted, their beauty lasted for a day. These flowers go through their life cycle knowing that their essence would last only for a day. Although new buds on the flowers stalk open daily and a stalk can remain in bloom for an entire month, still every single opened flower lasts a day. Imagine going through life, knowing that your essence is for a day, what would you do? I would personally live out my day in communion with my community, and surrounded by all things that nurture and nourish my soul. Like my children. Toni Morrison’s words ‘Does your face light up when you see your children’ will be my mantra that day and I will do as Ben Okri asked by ‘infecting that day with light.’

Each daylily last a day, with new buds blooming daily.

Daylilies seem to know that. They seem to spend their day infecting the world with light. Your face lights up as soon as you see them. Their brilliant yellow will draw you in for a hello. These fascinating flowers are truly an invitation to light. Like yesterday’s post, they are in the business of being light if only for a day. It’s almost like each new bud that blooms begins their journey full of possibilities, ready for an explosion or an inner liberation of their light, pressing forward too for a moment which they know is fleeting. Pressing forward for a moment that lasts a day. I am inspired. Rather than dwelling on that fact, every release of their inward light, the brightest of yellows is for us. Every release of their light is for us to slow down. Every release helps you and I see the world differently, appreciate the world differently, while basking in our connections together. That they are willing to give this much light to us, even during scorching heat, for a day, is powerful keep worth sharing today. If you only have one day, use it by being daylilies. Infect the world with your light even if for a moment and let your beauty for the day last so long as your live. This is a keep worth passing along too. Life is truly short. Be like daylilies.

We didn’t go to church last year. We didn’t celebrate with other mothers or listen to the special Mother’s Day prayers from our Jesuit Priest. We didn’t even get the flowers we normally receive at the end of mass, a symbol of our Church’s reverence for today. The pandemic with all its adversities was to blame. Today we are prepared to radiate in full bloom, in brilliant colors that highlights the beauty of the day. And there is something about Azaleas in full bloom at the entrance of my home, that gives me radical hope, one year later, as a mother, today.

Azaleas at the front of our home!

For starters, azaleas are a a symbol of womanhood, of softness with their deep luscious purplish pink colors that are dependable as blue skies on a very sunny day. Azaleas beauty transforms any space becoming a dramatic focal point of any landscape, in the same way mothers transform life. Then there is the supercooling tendencies of Azaleas which makes these flower a symbol of hardiness. During the winter months, Azaleas hardy stems super cool to low temperature to avoid any freezing injury, enabling them to tolerate the presence of ice and survive. So too is motherhood. How we bear the pains of childbirth, particularly the illustrious ring of fire, the moment a baby makes its appearance, personifies the hardiness of Azaleas.

That one plant can personify both soft and hard, with grace and beauty, even in times of stress is the reason why azaleas give radical hope to motherhood, radical hope for my journey as a mother. By being both soft and hard, at its core Azaleas provide a sense of agency for change, a sense of agency for fight. Adversities will come, as with freezing cold temperatures of winter nights, and finding ways, supercooling ones, to fight through the ice, is crucial for survival. But in the Spring, there will be beauty, brilliant colors in full bloom, that radiates the moment you see Azaleas, the moment your eyes meet to greet these plants, such that the fight through the ice, is never futile, the fight through adversities is never futile. Azaleas commitment and courage to survive winter and achieve this flourishing vision for Spring, is the radical hope I keep for mothers today. The pandemic has been one great adversity. Testing our endurance and abilities to both juggle home and work at the same time. For some of us that meant, there were no separation. Work came home and home became work, not just for ourselves but with the children we homeschooled and the family members we nursed. The pandemic was like Azaleas during winter months. Yet we fought, through the ice, supercooled where we could, to survive this adversity of a life time.

But on this day, a year later, we celebrate you. On this Mother’s Day, may your beauty dazzle. Be as vibrant as you can be and wear those vivid colors that make you radiate like Azaleas. Become a dramatic focal point today and let every eye direct attention to you. This significant Mother’s Day, this one past the adversities of a pandemic, highlights the need to never forget our collective past (though still ongoing) of survival as we envision a collective future full of possibilities, where flourishing will always be at our core like Azaleas in Spring, as we embrace the meaning and purpose of motherhood. My prayer for you also is that you explode with colors so breathtaking that the memories of you beauty lingers on past the ongoing pandemic, throughout today and into forever. It’s what Azaleas do for themselves, a radical hope through life, a collective commitment to heal and transform the adversities of winter, to achieve new forms of flourishing in the Spring. I keep Azaleas here for you today and always.

Happy Mother’s Day!