Motherhood has done a lot of things.  Redefine beauty is one of them.

Any item I purchase for myself now has to pass the body fluid rule: if any kind of bodily fluid were to get on the item, would I be really upset?  If the very notion makes me struggle, then I don’t buy it.

This means I have greatly expanded my repertoire of Goodwill and Clearance discoveries.  For truly, the question is not “if,” but when.  Anything that CAN come out of a little body inevitably WILL, and share space with whatever outfit, comforter, or throw pillow I am enjoying at the moment.    (Imagine my recent adrenaline rush when I found a genuine, lined “London Fog” trench coat at the nearby Goodwill for $17! It’s like I’m business woman, Inspector Gadget, and Super Mom all in one!  I can look put together at work and not be upset later when both a runny nose and peanut butter and jelly collide with the coat!).  Particularly as a working mom, it is always interesting to see how motherhood meshes with, well everything.

I had a bit of an epiphany the other day, as I strapped our youngest, 20 months, into his stroller in the elementary school parking lot.  We were about to walk in to the pre-K Thanksgiving Holiday program for our oldest.  I looked down and saw a long string of little boy snot on  my sweater.  A little part of my heart sank, even though it was quickly resolved with a baby wipe.  I felt a lot of things, but beautiful surely was not one of them.

So much of motherhood is icky.    It’s not that I’m complaining or whining.  It’s just no one gives you the Hallmark card that reads “Parenthood is still amazing…even after cleaning up vomit at 3:00am.”  At the end of the day, I’m an optimist.  Yes.  I’m knee deep in the ickyness right now.  But if I’m involved with icky-ness, then I am present.  I am here.  I’m all up in it.  And for that fact, I am so grateful.

As we sat in the front row, our rapt attention to the pre-Kers walking in, I felt a strong mix of joy and sorrow.  I felt joy to see the little face of our daughter light up to see her mommy, daddy, and baby brother there to support her.  I felt sorrow for the few who searched for their familiar face in the crowd and their mix of confusion, worry, and hurt when their eyes didn’t make any meaningful connection.  In that moment, I could care less about the snot that was so recently on my sweater.  Here are moments of motherhood where the icky-ness fades away and the sheer joy of being present overrides everything else.  The sheer joy of being present is powerful.  To be present is to be beautiful.

“Beautiful” means to be pleasing, either in appearance or aesthetic.  I’m not a fan of sugar-coating crap – literally.  Please don’t wax poetically about how beautiful motherhood is when I am cleaning up an explosive diaper – off the little one – off the wall – off of me.  It is not pleasing, in the traditional sense, for sure!  But it does please me to be present, because I’m not owed anything.   It pleases me to be a caregiver, to be taught unconditional love on the regular.  It pleases me to choose humility instead of frustration and to continually see a tangible reminder that I have been entrusted with two tremendous gifts.  It pleases me to remember to take a deep a breath, and live one moment at a time, a concept that has only truly begun to stick since having kids.

Still beautiful.  Just in a new, different sense.  Some mornings I have a pretty sharp outfit on, my hair is styled, and my make up fully applied.  Other mornings, I’m not showered, I’m not really sure what I am wearing, and really, I don’t feel very winning.

Either way, winning or losing, I still get to be a Mom.  I am present.    And that is beautiful!