How Great Thou Part

I sip my coffee while perusing emails at what friends refer to as my office, aka, the local coffee shop.

A big group enters and makes their way to a table. I realize it’s a bunch of teachers from my children’s elementary school. I can’t wait to greet them. These people that I love from the years I loved equally.

IMG_0849We chat. Okay, well, mostly I chatter. Anyone who knows me realizes if any significant time has passed between our encounters my enthusiasm exaggerates my banter. But fortunately, they indulge me – even the newest staff members.

We laugh and reminisce and then I make my way back to my seat and a few phone calls.

On the way out, I walk past their table and say my goodbyes. I wistfully announce they knew me when – you know the days I had it all together…

I was up early and got my guys off to school on time. I packed lunches with cute little notes. And well, rounded lunches that had healthy stuff in them. I volunteered for everything and even invented more to do, like buying too much stuff from Oriental Trading Company for Mexican Fiesta Day. And in between all of this parenting philanthropy, I actually exercised even though I secretly hated it but loved the bikini bod it got me.

Ah, young motherhood.

The promise of it all.

Yet, those at the table have no real idea how far my mind has now drifted.

I suddenly slouch and announce this moment to be my ‘before and after’ of mothering.

I jokingly imply they must know of what I speak. After all, didn’t they get the early part of parenting much better than the latter? Somehow, they stare back at me with bewildering glances. While one teacher sympathetically fills the void by relating. 

They stare back at me with bewildering glances while one teacher sympathetically fills the quiet void. 

But, of course – they couldn’t possibly relate because it is divorce which has sent this mommy to the ‘don’t’ section of the parenting mags.

They couldn’t possibly relate because it is divorce which has sent this mommy to the ‘don’t’ section of the parenting mags.

Motherhood interrupted –

I hate this devastating aspect of divorce.

The parent my children knew before and the one of today.

Just to be specific…

I was going to do motherhood perfectly.

I wouldn’t yell, or have a messy house, or be late for carpool…

I wouldn’t miss a back to school night, a game or a teacher meeting. I would cook constantly and my house would be the place where every child loved to congregate. I would read lots of books and sing tons of songs. I would eat well and work out in order to set the healthiest example. But I would also indulge in snack only family night movies or my sister’s signature birthday ice cream breakfasts.

I would do everything right.

Until the day, life reminded me I am not in control of ‘said everything.’

At first, the devastation of abandoning ‘before mommy’ was more than I could bear. She was after all, pretty great. And worse, ‘after mommy’ felt kinda Harper Valley PTA’ish. That’s the type of fall from grace which seems to accompany divorce.

So it was pretty easy to beat me up for the drastic and dreaded change from perfect mommy to imperfect mommy.

But then I remembered my own childhood. My own mother.

We didn’t grow up perfectly rather we grew up beautifully.

And ironically, throughout this divorce and feelings of periodic weakness, I have discovered a new truth. In actuality, my children are now witnessing their strongest mother.

It wasn’t hard to be the first mom in the carpool line when life was carefree.

Nor was it a struggle to have Rice Krispy Treats waiting when they sauntered in from school.

And it was easy to belt out Rainy Days and Monday songs as water pummeled the car and stress rolled off of it.

It wasn’t hard to be perfect while life was perfect.

It wasn’t difficult to be ‘before mommy.’

But boy is it tough to be ‘after mommy.’

There is no greater fall from grace than to no longer be perfect in your children’s eyes.

And it is equally as brutal to accept that imperfection yourself.

It is Motherhood interrupted. 

For a few minutes this morning, I got to revisit perfection. I once again lived in my ‘before mommy’ world and it was a pretty place. More June Cleaver less Harper Valley.

I like how I look through those teachers eyes – the ones who remember me in the days I had it all together and the body to go with it.

But my children were meant to have both ‘June’ and ‘Harper.’

And I was meant to know mothering is beautiful, not perfect.


Photo (Mine)

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