We are down to soap chips rather than soap bars, and I was very disgruntled to find my face soap in the shower when I was finally able to jump under the spray twenty minutes before our departure for morning carpool. Hudson screamed and cried all through breakfast because I served him water instead of Capri Sun, then trashed his room with Lincoln Logs when he was sent to calm down. He and Lawson took great pleasure in punching, kicking, and pinching each other from that point on. When I rolled up to Camden's school with only seconds to spare, the teacher who opened his door was bombarded by the screams and hums of my other three children. She let an "oh, my" slip from her tongue before the van door closed behind Camden, and I could only nod my head in silent acknowledgement of her bewildered expression.
When one of my mommy partners in crime offered to walk Hudson and Lawson into preschool, I gladly accepted and raced home to try and dry my heavy, wet, tangled mop that masquerades as hair and still make it to my MOPS meeting in time. I attend these meetings because they give me a sense of belonging and sisterhood I haven't experienced since I found my best college girlfriends. These women are worth my fighting for a shower every other Wednesday (though I know they would gladly take me as I normally am with greasy hair and grubby clothes). They were pillars of support when I came to them very nearly broken with loneliness back in September, and they continue to inspire and encourage me months later in a variety of ways.
When I attended my first MOPS meeting, I felt somewhat out of my element. I'm so open and outspoken with a crass sense of humor to boot, and I was intimidated by some of the mild-mannered, godly women I encountered. I can't quote you scripture, I have a recovering potty mouth (motherhood does require censorship), and I love so big and bubbly that sometimes people aren't really sure what to think of me. MOPS is a Christian based organization, and though my faith feels more secure than it has in a long time, participation in organized religion has ebbed and flowed throughout my adult life.
The more time I spend with these women, the more masks I take off. I'm learning to love myself the way God made me rather than doubting myself for not being more demure. In taking off my own masks and accepting who I am and why I am who I am, I've come to realize all the moms at MOPS are united by the same insecurity. We all want acceptance for what one of my favorite mommies put so plainly this morning--for being real. For being someone who has endured pain and heartache and understands strife and the isolation of living in fear. For someone who has gone to the depths of self-destruction or self-loathing and fought hard to come out on the other end intact. Or for being someone who isn't perfect but struggles with the understanding that it's her idiosyncrasies that make her so special.
The women who surround me at the tables are real. Only in the last four months have I begun to form deep connections that reward me so richly with laughter and fellowship. It's easy to become so engrossed in my own insecurities and desires for love and acceptance that I forget those around me are looking for the same thing. We're united by love, by the pain and joy of our life experience, by the desire to be great moms, and by the support we have to offer each other. There is little room for judgement when you choose to be real and in doing so, allow others to hold the confidence to be real themselves. My heart has grown a little more each meeting and with each new friendship, and it grew exponentially today in watching moms lay out their struggles and let us all in to their little worlds.
My dear friend who spoke today has no idea how much less alone I feel just hearing her testimony and watching God grant her the bravery to give it. I suspect she stood up there feeling vulnerable and fearing judgement for removing a veil and exposing her private life to us. She inspired me today more than she ever has (and this is a mom who inspires me regularly), and I once again come to a place where I passionately and whole-heartedly tell God thank you for leading us to Savannah. Thank you for my beautiful husband and for the blessing of his job. Thank you for my spirited children who scream and fight. Thank you for MOPS and the sisterhood of women you've brought into my life. I truly believe it's no accident I'm here.