Ten years ago yesterday, I walked down the aisle as a bride. The world felt like one endless possibility stretched out long in front of us. Today I’m admiring waiting white gowns in the bridal boutique windows across the street through the Saturday drizzle; this hour, the first quiet daylight hour I’ve spent alone in a long while. So much has changed.
I ordered my coffee in a mug, for here. Found myself a seat at the hightop bar at the front of the shop. I propped open my computer to get to writing–the first thing my head and heart long for when daily life takes a tiny pause–and my head filled up with silence. Just silence. No one clinging, no one crying. No one spilling or needing water to drink or asking to have their cream cheese spread on a bagel. No one due for milk or wanting milk even though they don’t need it, no requests for a story or paper to color on, for a game to play or a potty break.
I love our babies. I love them more than I thought I could ever love anything. I don’t take them for granted, and I genuinely enjoy being their mama. But I so deeply need a break. I’m not easily slowed down, but I could sit here just staring out the window for the entire day, I’m sure of it. All of the usual voices are at home, probably loving time with daddy and certainly surviving without me, and we all need it.
When Jason and I got married a decade ago, I had so many dreams of how the future might look. Travels around the world together and a cozy place to come home to. Someday, babies…the chance to be a mother and to love and raise children as I’ve always felt called to do. Time to write, to contribute to the world in tangible ways, to volunteer, to soak in art and culture and the creativity of others…Beach days and rich time with God and everything a girl might dream about on her wedding day. I feel so fortunate to admit that many of these hopes and aspirations have come to fruition in ten years. I knew I could dream, but I had no idea so many possibilities might actually materialize, too.
In the same, we’ve faced our share of hardship. It’s easy to focus on the good things when I write in a public space, and I’d rather spend time practicing a spirit of gratitude anyway. But there have been many hard seasons amidst all of the good; only the good and the hope of good are what have always kept us going.
When God put Jason and I together, He had plans, no doubt–plans for life to come from our union, plans to shape and grow and strengthen us through the sour and the sweet. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, and neither is he. I never imagined we’d have to work so hard to continue to find ourselves and each other in this season of parenting young children, but we do. When the kids have gone to bed at the end of the day (some of them for a catnap), we scramble to meet in the middle and gather up all of the conversations and sharing and life-doing we can muster before we fall into bed at too late an hour. More often than not these days, we both fall asleep before we have the chance to chat or plan or dream, and we postpone “progress” on much, despite the best of intentions.
These little people God has given us? I remind myself often that they are an inheritance from Him. They truly are. And each one of them is beautiful and refining for us in their own ways. Our third little buddy is as sweet as can be. He loves deeply for a baby his age–his affection, both tangible and endless, is sustenance for me in the daily. In the same, he is incredibly attached at all hours. I believe completely in giving him everything he requires, in building his level of security, in nurturing his growth and development as he makes his needs known. He’s faced health challenges these past few months that have caused me to focus even more carefully on him, even as I so deeply desire to spread myself evenly as a mom. It’s not always possible, so I’m learning every single day to depend more and more on God’s grace and covering to get us through.
Parenting begs me to be selfless, while I battle back moments of selfishness all of the time. In the noise and the needs stacking up and the lives around me desiring everything I can give, I’m practicing an art I may never master, but God is faithful to keep refining anyway.
I never thought I’d be the type of parent to spend all of my time with our children, but these days, I do. I’m in a place of acknowledging that this is probably too much for me, knowing that I need to find ways to rediscover myself even as I pour into our family as best I can.
Stepping away, I can see the mom I’m trying to be. It’s easy to be hard on myself for every misstep, until I remember that I’m not the one who fills the gaps. I can’t be. God waits and invites and holds space for me when I probably don’t see it; sometimes in my exhaustion I forget to look.
Sitting here, I can look back see that young bride, too. The couple God started out ten years ago as we pledged to be two of three strands in a cord that’s not easily broken. Two strands on our own would have fallen apart a long time ago, but God stands faithfully as the third strand in a braid that’s stronger than we ever knew it could be. I have a feeling that as the tension has pulled tighter over time, we’ve grown tighter, too. Even when we fall asleep before the chance to dream. Even when the noise is so busy around us that we forget what it was like to be new at this life together.
Ten years. Three babies (and one we never knew). One cozy house. So many travels. Adventures in the good and the hard. So many cups of coffee. So many rainy Saturdays.
God isn’t done here, and that’s always where I hang my hat. Someday there might be time for more self-discovery, more tangible contributions by way of writing or doula work or building into others outside of our four walls. For now, three little babes call me their mama and look to me at every hour to be just that. Today I’m praying that I can rest in God as they rest in me, and that I can look like Christ to my people, even when it’s noisy and hard.
almost to the bottom of my mug, but never empty,