Appreciating the Scars

Our kitchen table is worn. It’s weathered. It’s scratched and marked and mottled with imperfections. It’s not artfully or intentionally aged. There’s no shabby-chic crackle finish or sandpapered paint. It’s simply ragged in the way well-worn items are.

At first, when we inherited the large, solid wood table as recent newlyweds we were pleased. We figured it would suit our needs, at least temporarily, until we eventually refinished it or upgraded.

Occasionally, we’d flip through catalogs and dreamily contemplate which new table to purchase. The flashy trendy set ot perhaps the simpler, classic arrangement? Then, we’d see the prices and close the catalog, turning our minds to what new finish or paint could make our table look presentable. We didn’t have the time to devote to such a task, so we abandoned the flirtation. Glancing down at our patchy table in scorn, its flaws were amplified against the shine of the new.

2016-07-04 12.52.37

Then, came the children. Each child adding paint flecks, scratches, and scuffs to the already unevenly worn finish. As I looked at the bald spots and etching, rough edges and glitter embedded in deep scratches, I became embarrassed. I wanted to hide and cover the marred table. To disguise the wear and tear of its service.

Then, one day, while cleaning the crumbs from the tabletop, I looked up and saw my children’s chairs. I traced my finger along the pink paint left behind from the baby shower for my first child. I felt the fork scratches in front of my middle son’s seat. I saw the grooves left behind by my daughter’s overzealous hand as she’d begun to learn to write her name. Then, I saw the worn patch, the permanently blond spot on the edge of the table where Nonna, my grandmother-in-law, had sat. Her seat at the table was still clearly marked so many years after her death. That’s when I realized: these aren’t imperfections, they’re memories!

Each scar tells a story. Each fleck signals nostalgia. Each worn patch stands as a place marker, mapping the seats of dearest loves.

This table wasn’t flawed. It wasn’t broken. It was beautiful in an organic, simple way. It was strong.

Every day the table served us, absorbing our abuse and displaying our lives in a tapestry of wooden memoriam. It’s not perfect. ┬áIt’s loved. It’s ours.

The Fear of “What If?”

I was the kid who pretended to be “mommy.” I wrote lists of possible names for my distant-future children. I aspired to be a mother while others dreamt of space exploration or royal appointments. I am now immensely fortunate to be living that dream.

I adore my present life season full of sleeplessness and snuggles, tantrums and tea parties, playdates and potty-training. I treasure the countless memories so much that I frequently attempt to recount past events so as not to allow them to fade from my mind.

Because of my love for this harried but beautiful stage, I fear what lies ahead. I worry about the days when my children don’t want me around as they do now, the days when errands can be quick and bathroom trips can be solitary. The days when people don’t look at me and immediately know I am a mom.

Part of me wants to pull back from my present stage, to stop myself from so wholeheartedly adopting the “mom” identity. The drive is fear for the future — an assumed future — and self-preservation. If I allow myself to dive deep into motherhood, how hurt and confused will I be when the tides change? Who will I be when I am not so completely needed or wanted, when my days and nights no longer center on giving of myself in every way?

There is another part of me — the hippy side, the tender side — that tells myself to revel in the fruition of my life dreams. This is but a fleeting moment in life, but it is a fulfilling one. It is what I’ve always wanted. Why not allow myself to experience it fully? Would I not chastise myself in later years for hindering my own experience due to the fear of “what if?”

Lawyers identify as lawyers, musicians identify as musicians. Why, then, should I not identify as a mother? When an individual’s career path shifts, the challenge to find one’s new identity is considered normal. Why would mothers entering new seasons of their career not be expected and afforded the right to experience the same upheaval?

Life is change. We change continuously throughout our existence, sometimes on imperceptible smaller scales and other times in abrupt, quaking shifts.

I must learn to accept the eventual change without allowing fear to rob me of my present. I am a mom. I will always be a mom. Each stage will simply be different. And that’s ok.