That was then, this is now

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. Since the days line up as they did all those years ago, I can’t help but to make comparisons about how different things are now.

On April 27, the year we were married, I was making last-minute preparations. The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were that night, so I needed to make sure everything was set–caterer in place, dining hall reserved, etc. This morning, my big plan was getting the kids bathed, dressed and fed.

Back then, I was imagining life after we were married, waking up each morning together. This morning, I had a bed full of my favorite people in the whole world, laughing and having fun.

Back then, I was making sure my dress was perfect and my hair and make-up were flawless. This morning, I’m waiting for Faith to take a nap so I can take a shower and not wear the same thing two days in a row.

Back then, I was preparing for a day that many would argue was all about me; a day that I was told would be the best of my life. Today, life is anything but “all about me” and I’m okay with that. And while my wedding day was a pretty good day, it was just the start of so many “best days of my life.”

Things have changed a lot in the years that have passed since my wedding day. But it has been an amazing marriage adventure that I would live all over again. I know a lot of people think of anniversaries as a romantic day for you and your beloved. But for me, this day is one to celebrate my husband and me and the life we’ve created together, which would not be complete without our two kids.

The ugly truth

Recently, I came face-to-face with an unsettling fact about myself–I’m proud of my kids. I’m talking “My kids are better than your kids” kind of proud. I’ve always been a pretty competitive person, but I’ve never actually been better at something than others. But my kids…they’re smarter than their peers, they’re cuter than all the other babies, and frankly, have better personalities and are more well behaved. Ugly, right?! But I’m discovering that my kids don’t do everything better than the other kids around them. And I don’t like it…not even a little bit!

What brought me to this revelation was our untold frustrations with potty training. We started potty training Journey early by some standards–a fact that I have been very proud of. But it has been anything but easy. When I tried to commiserate with a friend whose son is one of Journey’s playmates, I realized I was in this battle alone and it bothered me–a lot! I didn’t like the idea that her son had accomplished something that seemed like such a struggle for mine.

I’ve had this sneaking suspicion, for a while now, that my smug little attitude isn’t as well hidden as I’d like to think. And this just felt like being put in my place (not by my friend, she’s far too sweet to ever do that). But I was most definitely humbled in that moment, and rightly so. Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NLT).

I still don’t like the idea that my children aren’t always going to be the best at everything. And I’m aware that my pride for them is teetering on the unhealthy side. Yet, I’m unsure how to rein it in. Journey will be starting preschool soon. So I know that I will probably be faced with the reality that he isn’t the best at everything. I guess the best I can do is continue to love and be proud of my children, whether or not they really are smarter, cuter and more fun to be around.

The thing I hate about being a mom

I love being a mom, much more than I ever thought I would. But there is one thing that I hate. No, it’s not the poopy diapers, although I could do with a few less of those. And it’s not the so-called “terrible twos,” after all that does pass (or so I’ve been told). It’s not even the late-night feedings that feel interminable in those early months. What I hate the most is the constant worry that comes with being responsible for another human life.

I wouldn’t have considered myself a worrier before children. Sure, there were things that nagged at me from time-to-time. But generally, I didn’t worry. But once I had children, I became this person I didn’t recognize. I suppose it’s pretty common for a first-time-mom to worry over every little thing. But I felt frantic. I think what gets me the most is the feeling of being out of control. There are so many things, when it comes to kids, that are completely out of my control.

When Journey was nine-months-old, we discovered that he was losing weight. That was a frightening time for me. I felt so helpless! I was doing my best and, once again, it wasn’t enough. I constantly had to prop myself up and say all the right things: “I trust God with my child”; “God is in control, even when I’m not;” etc. I sort of adopted a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” mentality (1 Samuel 30:6 Amplified).

I’ve grown a lot since those early days. But one thing remains–I still worry, a lot, about my kids. I try to keep it together on the outside. But deep down, I’m biting my nails and wringing my hands at the slightest abnormality. But even though I’m freaking out on the inside, I still keep saying the “right things.” And I remind myself of all the worries of the past and how each issue has resolved itself. When I’m in the middle of a challenge, it feels so overwhelming. But when I step back, I remember the last thing that kept me up at night and how that too felt so overwhelming. Then I also remember how we made it through. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid for you are close beside me…” Psalm 23:4 (NLT).

I doubt the worry will ever truly go away. And I’ll probably still have my secret freak-out moments. But I know that regardless of what I face with my kids, God will always see us through.

One of these things is not like the others…

My husband and I are fairly quiet, reserved people. Faith, though she’s still pretty young, seems to be a lot like us. Then there is Journey.

As I often say, “he’s his own special person.” He’s kind of loud and very outgoing–he’ll go around a room full of strangers and say hi to every person. And he has a TON of energy.

I love that he’s different from me. But sometimes I struggle with those differences. He’s much more emotive than I am, which can lead to some frustrating moments–I won’t even mention the breakdowns over the simplest things. But it can also lead to wonderful moments, like when he laughs so heartily it becomes contagious. But sometimes I wish he’d be more like me and relish the quiet moments of life. I can sit quietly with Faith and just enjoy the peace. Journey has never been like that. Even as a newborn, he was loud. We’d bring him into our bed in the early morning, hoping to get a few more minutes of rest. And he would just babble away. So much for peace and quiet.

I remember one Saturday morning when we were all relaxing in our bed. Well, all but Journey. He lay there for about five minutes before he wanted to get up and jump on the bed and sing as loudly as he could. I was ready to get after him for disturbing our peaceful morning, when I felt a caution in my heart–“don’t try to tame him.” Yes, he needs to learn when and where to be silly and loud. But in that moment, I felt like I needed to be careful not to make him feel like who God created him to be was somehow wrong because it didn’t “fit” with our family.

The reality is, we would be one pretty bland family without Journey to liven things up a bit. God clearly knew what he was doing when he placed Journey in our family: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT). And although he’s different from the rest of us, he very much fits with us.

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