I sit gracefully drinking my wine and having adult conversation with my husband. We are talking about politics, the world in crisis, history and religion. I’m all kinds of eloquent and challenging. I am dressed like a magazine ad, and my make-up is the picture of perfection. I weigh exactly 130 pounds, I had salad for dinner, and lunch and maybe breakfast… that’s where the whole thing falls apart.
My past self was so misled. Certainly I wanted whatever feeling came with the afore mentioned vision: success, strength, comfort, reliability… whatever it was, I am and I have. It just looks a little more like this:
I half-sit half-lay on the couch because the cushions are far less substantial then they used to be. (trampolines and forts perhaps) The husband and I are definitely having adult conversation about who will drive who where tomorrow, ‘don’t forget the beer’, ‘do I have any clean underwear?’ You know, relevant, important adult stuff. My mumblings are barely audible, minus the few uh huh and ok’s I saved for the really important things. I’m definitely dressed for work, sweats and a ponytail, and my make-up… hasn’t been applied in 5 years. I weigh exactly more than 130 pounds, I had leftover mac and cheese for dinner, and lunch and maybe breakfast. But there’s wine. There is definitely wine.
The truth is that I know exactly what I wanted from my life. I wanted it all. I wanted it perfect and I wanted it just like everyone else’s perfect life. What I got was so much different and so much more.
1. I wanted a houseful of kiddos.
I didn’t expect to be completely overwhelmed, all the time, by the noise, the mess, the snuggles, and the love.
2. I wanted to cloth diaper my babies.
I didn’t expect the laundry…. oh the laundry.
3. I wanted to breastfeed my babies.
I didn’t expect to love it and loathe it so much.
4. I wanted to be everything for my children.
I didn’t expect to have to be everything for my children.
5. I wanted to attend church on Sunday, and pray together as a family.
I didn’t expect church to a circus of potty breaks, snack times, please be quiet, let’s read one more book, is it time to go yet? PLEASE GOD WHY IS CHURCH SO LONG!!!
6. I wanted to show my daughters that women were capable of everything they wanted to be.
I didn’t expect that my son would need the same lessons.
7. I wanted to raise readers. Real readers, not just school book readers, but children who craved a good story like they craved ice cream or breakfast.
I didn’t expect to spend an hour each evening reading to, and alongside my children. I didn’t expect to have real conversation about stories, and lessons and characters and truths and fiction. I didn’t expect to LOVE to raise readers.
8. I wanted to raise kind and loving little people.
I didn’t expect to celebrate with more exuberance than if I’d won an Olympic medal when they unexpectedly do something kind for a stranger.
9. I wanted my husband to love our children as much as I did.
I didn’t expect him to love them so differently and so intensely.
10. I wanted to raise children that were hungry to learn.
I didn’t expect to cherish every minute we have learning about science, and math, and literature. I didn’t expect that my heart would swell to tears when my husband teaches my son the inner workings of music, entrepreneurship, technology and movies.
11. I wanted to care for myself.
I didn’t expect that I would ALWAYS eat standing up or with a toddler in my lap. I didn’t expect that a trip to the gym was an act of self-preservation that could be thwarted by a sniffle, a sore throat, an early nap or someone else’s cranky day. I didn’t expect that me time, more often than not, happened behind a locked door with little fingers poking under.
12. I wanted to create peace and love in our home.
I didn’t expect that often I would be the source of discord and unrest.
13. I wanted to love my husband, to create a relationship with him that was an example to our children of fidelity, love, respect and kindness.
I didn’t expect that that love would take so much intentional work. I didn’t expect that the payoff would be quite so beautiful. I didn’t expect to love and be loved so deeply that sometimes it’s overwhelming.
14. I wanted perfection for me, for my husband, and for my children.
I didn’t expect perfection to come in the form of fingerprints on the freshly cleaned windows, 5am wake-up calls, late night dinners, piano lessons, and hurried kisses in the pick up line. I never expected to find perfection in the imperfect. But here we are and OH MY GOSH here I’ll stay.