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Come home for the Summer...

(Written the Summer of 2010)

I always wanted to be a wife and a mother.

That's what I told anyone who asked what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. Fall in love, have babies. That was the dream. And sometimes I think I wanted that because it seemed easier. Less complicated. I never felt as though I belonged in the academic world. Oh, sure, I may have entertained dreams of becoming an elementary teacher or a lawyer or a ballet dancer. I had plans to go to college.  Music major. Thirteen years+ of private piano lessons, it seemed kind of like a given.

But when it came time to take that step, I backtracked and begged my way out. My parents said alright, as long as I got a "real" job. And I did. Or rather, God provided it and I accepted. Either way, I was on a roll and over the next few years, whenever my current job had run its course, another was offered. Every. Time. And each job was beautiful and challenging and painful. Between the ages of 18 and 28, I branched out. Sometimes in good, bright flourishes. And sometimes I should have been pruned back a bit.

A turning point in my life was when I moved out of Mom and Dad's and found an apartment 54 miles away. In the Spring of 2003 I was offered my dream job working for a U.S. Congressman. I was excited. I was terrified. The first few nights in my apartment were enthralling and so scary that I cried myself to sleep. I was overwhelmed with my new life, my new town and my new responsibilities. The four years that I was given at that job was my college experience. I had my bright, shimmery days and I had a couple nights where I ate too many wings and drank my drinks a little fast. It was life. I drove too fast, too late at night, dancing in my car to Usher. I'll admit it. And I ate Steak n' Shake and frozen pizzas and went on dates and had long hair. It was awesome.

I adored my job serving the people. I was enthralled by helping. It felt noble and right and as if I was finally doing something that really mattered. Something that wasn't easy. I was changed by the people I helped and to this day keep a binder full of letters. I fell in love so many times in so many different ways with so many different people and things that season. My apartment became my sanctuary and I was enthralled with bubble baths and dancing and going running in the mornings and reading books on the swing set near the basketball court and found a Christian radio station that never failed to speak to my spirit.

I was a sponge.

When that season ended (oh politics) I was destroyed. There is no other way to put it, unless you want to say that I was depressed, which I most likely was. I had opened up my heart, gathered others close and poured myself into every exchange. It felt like the ultimate betrayal; I was in that deep. My Mom had told me once, "You have to find a way to not bring your work home with you." I never found a way to do that. I cared with all my fibers. I couldn't put a parameter on that. Didn't want to.

And as beautiful and winsome as that season was... being Aaron's wife and Joel's mother is so... much. When I was fifteen I thought marriage and babies would be easy. Ha. The folly of youth. There is nothing easy about never getting enough sleep or how Joel always gets a bath but I don't always get a shower. There's nothing easy about missing meals or being too consumed with a little person that you forget to drink water and spend the day wondering why you're dizzy all the time. Or try being puked on. Lots. And marriage is wonderful and I am so blessed by my husband, but two sinners (and now three) under one roof makes for plenty of opportunities for true colors and forgiveness to make their rounds.

But if I thought my defining years were past, I was wrong. So wrong. I am one of those people who prefer to learn about life and love and other mysteries while driving in my car with the windows down, listening to new music. I am in love with seeing lessons unfold right before my eyes and not so in love with the lessons that leave me feeling kind of small and in need of some major changes. And there are admittedly times when I think the best version of me has already existed and now she's gone. That I'll never get her back.

Seasons of life aside, you always have a choice. I can be whoever I want to be, but I can't sit here and cry about how things aren't working out if I'm not trying. In an effort to not necessarily do more, but do what I already do better, I've been aiming to get up at 5 a.m. each day, which typically would allow me 2 hours sans baby. This means I can read my Bible, study and pray. This means I can workout. This means I can have a shower. Every day. You always have a choice. You can live with an open heart and an open mind, or you can choose to be bitter and closed off and keep looking back to wave at the life you left behind.

I would not trade my life with Aaron for anything. I would rather be 10 lbs. heavier than I was a year ago than not have Joel in our lives. I want to be the best wife I can be and the best mother I can be... and that means about doing so much more than just having dinner on the table and making sure the baby has a clean diaper. It's not about being perfect. I'm not always going to have every hair in place and my toenails are probably going to be perpetually chipped. I'm more concerned with learning my husband and loving him. I'm more consumed with being a good mother to Joel; and that means more than just making sure he tries all of the smooshed up vegetables available before moving onto yummy yummy fruit options.

I realize that taking care of me translates into me taking care of them. But there are boundaries to that. If I'm more concerned with my appearance, let's say, than I am flopping down on the floor next to my son to share smiles and giggles - then I have problems. As fully as I dumped myself into my professional life back in the day, I want to do that and more with this season.

This season is beautiful. It weighs me down with it's loveliness and possibility. And as great as I think the Laura of 2003 was, she had a long way to go. And the Laura of 2010 has a long way to go, too, but she's had some years in between that have made her... different. Calmer. Less anxious. Definitely more respectful and understanding of others' boundaries and needs. I fell in love with someone who challenges, understands and protects me. I watched as I grew a human being and felt so much joy and pride to bring him into the world. A little us. I delight in seeing how he looks more like his Daddy every day.

I love my boys. And yes, I had an awesome time in my 20's. I had some hard times then, too. I got my heart broke. I took the wrong turn. Heck, I had a hernia and had to have surgery.  My cat died.  No time is perfect. Life is life. Sometimes it's smooth and silky and other times it's a tangled web and you just want to sit down and cry, rather than try to un-knot anther knot.

I have almost thirty years to my credit and while I look back and smile and remember living brightly and sometimes boldly during that time... I am in love with now. To put away the suits and the heels and realize that it's going to be a long time, if ever, that I use them, again. In the near future I'm probably going to own a van and I can see myself calling over my shoulder for Joel to help his little brother or sister with whatever they are causing a commotion about.

Your life is not over when you get married or have babies. Your life is not over when your weight changes and you're forced to haul some things to Goodwill. Your vibrancy and options don't stop just because you wear a ring and have someone calling you, "Mommy!" You choose. You choose the kind of wife you're going to be, the kind of mother. You choose whether you're going to continue embracing life and driving with the windows down and retaining that winsome feeling. It's up to you.

I'm happy to look back and say, "Thank you." .... and keep moving forward.


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