I watched helplessly from across the kitchen as a feisty toddler innocently pulled at a teacup from its place of prominence on a shelf. All I could do was yell, “Mark, no!” and then watch it smash to pieces as it hit the floor. Mark babbled “Uh oh,” and then walked the other direction to play with his books.
I stood there for a moment in disbelief, staring at the broken pieces scattered on the floor before corralling my toddler in the living room. A very familiar pain deep in my heart began to ache as I fought off tears. I was not upset at Mark; he’s a toddler and didn’t know better. I was upset because of what the cup represented and how sparingly visited memories came flooding back in a matter of seconds.
It was 2014, and I was sitting on my sister’s couch sipping tea in her trendy apartment downtown. She co-hosted a tea-themed baby shower for the sweet baby girl in my belly and me. We wore big hats, and the party favors were fun teacups that the hosts had collected in preparation for the shower. My teacup had beautiful flowers all over and the word “Mother” written across the front. As I used the cup, my heart burst with joy thinking about the little girl who was making me a mother.
I went about gathering the teacup pieces, reliving those precious memories and contemplating how I would put the cup back together.
The shattered cup now sits on my dresser as a daily reminder of how much I hate July. I have yet to find the courage to attempt to glue the pieces together. Maybe I will once July is over. I know that it will never look as beautiful as it did when I used it during the baby shower – when my heart was filled with hope and joy for a future with Isabelle. I know that the pieces won’t fit back together perfectly. Cracks will run through it and small chips are gone forever. The cup will always be flawed, much how I feel my experience with motherhood has been.
Perhaps the cup I held in July 2014 was merely my perception of what motherhood would be. Movies and social media often deceive us, shouting lies of perfect pregnancies, restful nights, and impeccably behaved children who are always pristinely dressed. In reality, not all pregnancies end well, and those blessed enough to bring home a baby quickly find that motherhood is littered with sleepless nights and many moments that we would not dream of posting on Instagram or Pinterest.
Once the teacup shattered, it was no longer perfect. In a way, we all have imperfect cups. Some cups are a pile of broken pieces; others have large cracks, and some have a few chips. Some look perfect on the outside but have cracks covering the inside. Each mother has her own imperfect cup because each mother has her own unique journey of motherhood.
One of the biggest challenges I have each July is not looking at other women’s experiences with motherhood and being bitter. During this month, each curly-haired little girl walking next to her mom seems to envelop my mind with jealousy and trigger flashbacks to 2014. This month doesn’t bring out the best in me. When that teacup shattered on the kitchen floor a few weeks ago, I felt like my fragile heart shattered with it. All of the frustrations, failed dreams of raising a little girl, and bitterness were strewn all over the floor. It took me a while to gather all of the pieces and put them in a safe place.
Although my teacup is still sitting broken on a dresser, I know that eventually the pieces will start fitting together again. I’ve been attempting since the beginning of this blog to figure out the puzzle of broken pieces that I was handed back in July 2014. My blog title, Puzzled by the Pieces, still continues to describe my journey with motherhood. Perhaps one of these years, with God’s guidance, I will figure it out.