Most people know her as the mysterious woman behind the world’s most famous painting. More than 6 million people visit her at the Louvre in Paris every year, and many have pondered the half smile on her face, and that tired look in her eyes.
But do you know what I discovered recently about our dear friend Mona? We probably know the secret behind both of those things.
Mona…was someone’s mommy.
After hundreds of years of debating this lady of mystery, just a few months after we visited Paris on our honeymoon in 2006, art historians did a special infrared scan and discovered something they hadn’t known before about this lady of intrigue. Mona is actually wearing a thin black veil on her shoulder’s, the kind of veil a woman who had just given birth to a baby would have worn in her day.
Art historians believe that Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint Lisa Gherardini in 1503…right after the birth of her second son. Her. Second. Son. Now, I’m listening.
It would explain her tired eyes. And that half smile on her face. Mommies get those from time to time. (Read: every day. Especially just before bedtime.)
I had expected this Mother’s Day to look so very differently. All those months of waiting I had planned that baby Charlie would be here with me this May. I had dreamed of his tiny presence filling my heart and my day as I celebrated the four little ones who made me a Mommy.
And yet, here I am…with empty arms and a broken heart, and feeling deeply misunderstood most of the time. In the grocery store…no one knows by my cart that there are actually FOUR babies in my life. When I’m out shopping for post-pregnancy clothes…no one knows I’m a new mommy and that I just gave birth to somebody.
And sometimes I feel misunderstood even by my own sweet children…they simply cannot fully comprehend the depths of sorrow Mommy is carrying that make for my extra tired eyes, and the often half smile on my face. I feel so very misunderstood, even by myself some times, in this season of life. My baby is not with me, and yet, not a moment of my day goes by that my second son isn’t on my mind.
I feel a kinship with Mona Lisa, the Mommy. She gets us. She fits us. She’s in the tired, new Mom club. And she joins the ranks of the millions of women in this world who will be somewhat misunderstood this Mother’s Day.
The woman who knows her baby’s name and every precious feature of his face…but has to wait until heaven to finally see his smile and his eyes. I still cry with longing over those unseen eyes.
The woman who knows she was once the home for a precious unborn life…but she never got to hold her little ones body. She never knew her babies name.
The woman who prays every day for the child who will someday be in her home…but right now lives only in her heart. She waits as the months turn into years, for the adoption to be complete.
The woman who longs so much to be pregnant, though it isn’t happening no matter how hard she prays or how many months she tries. She feels stuck in an endless cycle of hope and then defeat, and wonders if she will ever know the joy of feeling a fluttering life inside.
The woman who has loved her nieces and nephews and been “Auntie” to her friend’s kids for a decade. She has loved those little ones as if they were her own, though she so desperately wanted to be called “Mommy” herself someday.
There’s a half smile on each and every face. Because we know the truth that to love someone…to truly, truly love someone with a mommy kind of love…is a painful and oft misunderstood thing. We also know that the children whom we love…are absolutely worth the ache. And so, we keep on loving.
That is the beauty of Mother’s Day.