Mother’s Day began with the sound of shattering glass. It was 7:00 a.m. My son-in-law had left for his job at the church. My husband was at the convenience store. The grandkids, where are the grandkids?
I lay listening for the commotion I was certain would follow. My daughter, down the hall in another room was doing the same. But there was no shrieking, no stampede, just silence really – except for… a muffled cry?
So in the still of the morning, though I longed to linger in bed, my curiosity won the moment. I slipped on my glasses, donned my robe, and tumbled out of bed the way you do when the mind wakes but the bones still slumber.
And dragging my protesting body, I worked my way out the door, down the stairs, down the hall and stopped, at the entrance to the kitchen. On the floor lay the shattered remains of a plate, a Corelle plate, strewn in a six foot radius. And there, at about the ten o’clock mark, stood Lucy. Ballet flats, ivory lace dress, perfectly coiffed Lucy. Head in her hands, stifling her sobs, nine year old Lucy.
Corelleware. Those nearly indestructible dishes. The ones that just never quit. The patterns may be old and dated but those darn dishes never wear themselves out. If you have them, you’ve probably owned them for 30 plus years, or you got them from someone who did. They can take the heat of the oven, the chill of the freezer and the pounding of the dishwasher. The harvest gold and avocado green clash with the stainless steel but dang it, they are just too sturdy to chuck. They outlive and outlast and out serve all the competition.
Funny thing about Corelle though… it’s strong until it isn’t, durable until it isn’t, resilient until it isn’t.
And as I stood there, as Lucy stood there, I recalled the times I’ve been oh too painfully like Corelle. Strong until I wasn’t. Durable until I wasn’t. Resilient until I wasn’t. Moms, are so good, so much of the time, at keeping it all together. Until comes the moment we aren’t. Until we have steered and steadied and staid ourselves but the storm strikes anyway. And the stress becomes too much. And we fail and fall and fracture – shards everywhere, penetrating everything, striking everyone. Yes, we pick up the pieces, but still, the damage is done.
One of the blessings of multi-generational living is that it’s nearly a do-over. An amazing opportunity to “get it right” the second time around. To allow the lessons of the past to guide the actions of the present. And yet, the beauty is we don’t have to wait until we’re 60 or 50 or even 40, until we’re grandmothers or great-grandmothers. Do overs happen anytime we allow our past weaknesses to morph into present strength, our past failures to drive us to future success. Anytime we to chose to learn from our mistakes.
And nearly forty years of motherhood has taught me that it isn’t broken plates that I regret, but broken spirits. And so, this day, this Mother’s day, I rewound the tape and sang a new song. Lucy received no scolding, no shaming, no shards. And as I gently swept the glass from around her feet, we talked about how her best laid plans for Mother’s Day went from feast to fiasco in one furious flash. And it was a sweet time for Lucy and I, sweet as the sausage she could no longer serve. Me – extending grace, she – recieving it. Because broken plates, like broken anythings, can be occasions for guilting or for guiding, for chastising or for charity, for rebuking or for restoring. I know that now.
And so this plate shattering, food splattering morning has swept up some broken pieces of my own soul. Pieces left astray since the last time I couldn’t quite hold it all together. Pieces replaced with peace. It is healing, cathartic really, those moments we “get it right.” And I am savoring this one.
There is no perfect mother. So I will strive for being second best – The Corelleware of Motherhood. Sturdy. Old. Dated, but not worn. Withstanding the heat and the chill and the pounding. Out-living, out-lasting, out-serving. And oy vey, clashing with the 21st century. If the dinnerware fits…
And alas, I smile. Because, Corelleware.
And because today I am one broken plate closer to a new set of dishes.