What I didn’t expect

Now that I’m approaching thirty and responsible for multiple humans, one dog, and several plants, I’m starting to contemplate the details of the days as they pass. When I was younger, I didn’t worry too much about that. I just lived and wondered about the future incessantly. 

Would I get married? To whom? When would I meet him? What would he look like? Would I make the right decision? 

Would we have kids? What would our kids look like? Would they have my eyes? Or my unruly hair? That would be cute on a toddler, so I hope so. What would their personalities be like? Would they be sensitive and slightly flighty like me? Or serious and staid (but still spontaneous) like my future husband hopefully would be (he is)? Would I be okay if I couldn’t have kids? Yes, I’d decided. It would be fine. Maybe I’d be disappointed. At least I’ll be able to get as many dogs as I want when I run my own life.

Now that I know at least partial answers to all of these questions, I don’t wonder as much about the future. I consider the younger version of myself fondly. She had so much to learn. She was sweet and young and idyllic. Now, I consider the choices I’ve made that led me here. And the choices I haven’t made. Those, we’ll call grace.

I didn’t exactly choose to start a family when we did, but I call that grace too. Because here we are, parents, and I am caring for babies. Sweet, hilarious, soft, spunky, good-natured, stubborn, feisty, little people. I didn’t expect the depth of it.

I didn’t know that I’d know a bit about their personalities before I even birthed them. I didn’t know that I would feel more empowered than broken after ushering new life into the world. I didn’t know that I would hold their downy little heads to my cheek as tears of gratitude escaped–thank you, God, for giving me what I didn’t know I wanted. I didn’t know that my heart would suddenly be full to overflowing with love that couldn’t be contained. I didn’t expect that so quickly after meeting these tiny new souls, I’d realize that this love could break me right open.

Now, instead of learning something academically new each day, I am learning my limits. Of stress, of exhaustion, of love (there isn’t one of these, apparently). I didn’t expect this. And I am so, so grateful.

But it is the hard kind of gratitude that takes so much work. And I am working. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, and I don’t even have a job outside of this house and these people. I’m always either on duty or on call (over every single night, in a row) and some days it just feels like too much. Today, it feels like too much. 

So what do we do? When it’s exhausting and back-breaking and there’s no end in sight? But you also don’t want it to end because it’s the most fulfilling thing you’ve done? 

This tension, I didn’t expect.

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