Whether it's when you're a little girl playing house, getting ready to walk across that stage into the adult world, or when you say yes to that marriage proposal you imagine what your future will be like. You're excited and scared for it all at the same time.
Now here I am ages away from that little girl that played house, sixteen years away from that young girl that walked across the stage, and ten years away this month from that girl that said yes to that proposal, and I'm so glad to see I finally made it here right where I am.
As I've recently spent the past few summer days hanging out on my deck or swinging in our hammock with a baby while I watched the girls and dog laugh and play in the backyard while my husband grilled our dinner or did something in the yard, I thanked God for everything that lead me to here.
I think back on all the forks in the road where I had to choose and with each choice I'm glad I didn't settle. Glad I didn't quit. Life will challenge us. It will make us doubt our choices; it will make us fear change; it will convince us we're not strong enough or good enough to do it. More times than not we are our own biggest obstacle, and I have definitely been mine.
For a short spell I considered not transferring to the university because I had a job at my cousin's daycare and quite frankly I didn't go away the first two years because I didn't want to leave home. I maybe threatened to move out at 18 but who was I kidding. I was scared to death to leave the security of my parents. Even after my first semester at the university I really didn't like it and wanted to go back home. It was my first major decision of adulthood to not quit, to not settle. Thank the Lord because not only did I get my degree, love my last two years of college, but going away was such a valuable experience in the start of gaining my independence and it's where I met my husband.
When my husband and I were getting ready to move out here I actually broke up with him for a short bit because that fear I felt about going an hour and a half away from home for college was nothing compared to the griping fear of moving halfway across the country from my family, my friends, the only life I'd ever known. Even as I faced my family's disappointment and lack of support, I shoved aside that fear that I'd fail and doubt that we'd make a successful go of it out there on our own, and I once again chose not to quit on us or settle on what I was familiar with rather than embarking on the unknown I desired but feared at the same time. Thank God again because it was the start of everything that lead to here.
When the housing market crashed and we were in the negative on our first home in the city it was possibly the first adult challenge that I knew I wouldn't settle or quit on. I refused to accept we'd have to raise our kids in the city; however, I did fear we'd have to give the house back to the bank in order to get out in turn ruining our credit for the next who knew how many years. Thank the Lord we didn't just settle and accept that there were no manageable options for us to get out of that house and move out into a small town community to raise our kids.
When I faced burnout with my career I'm not sure if there's been anything I wanted to quit as much as my career in teaching. It's all I'd wanted to do since I was a little girl, and I completed a Bachelors and Masters both in the field of teaching. I hated the feeling and I hated myself a bit for feeling the way I felt. I told myself to change something within the field first though before I decided altogether it wasn't for me anymore. So when my school had to issue staff cuts I volunteered to be cut. I'd already asked for a transfer but this would force me out and to find something elsewhere. That route is a gamble as it can lead to something better or worse. Of course everyone seems to want to convince you you're going to end up somewhere worse; that the situation you're in is as good as it gets. But at this point the challenge of change isn't what scared me; staying in the same situation did. Two years later I'm thanking God that I took the gamble and it worked out in my favor.
Having our baby boy join us is without a doubt the thing that makes that vision of long ago complete. If I could have got to where I was going without him I don't know. I spent a good year if not more wondering that very question. I always wanted a big family but after facing the reality of raising two kids away from family, the reality of balancing a career with two, and the reality of the expense of raising a kid I seriously considered letting that dream go. The second baby was a hard transition. She was a cranky, colicky baby and due to other life situations at the same time as having her it was the toughest time of my short adult life. I seriously doubted my mental capabilities to handle bringing another baby/child into our life. But we eventually decided to give it a go. What followed convinced me even more that maybe I needed to let that dream go. We had two miscarriages in five months. After that point we took a break for six months from trying again. Facing that third try scared me because I had decided it would make the decision for me. If we lost a third baby we were finished trying and staying a family of four. As you know how the story goes we got baby Lincoln.. I can't remember what I wished for as a little girl. I know the typical wish is a boy and a girl, but I always knew I wanted more than two kids so maybe I wished for two boys and a girl. But now I see what I got is perfect. I LOVE raising sisters. As a sister of three girls I love that my girls get to experience the bond of sisterhood. I see now too it's best that they were first because they're only 2.5 years apart whereas if Lincoln was in the middle they would have been 7 years apart so not as likely to have as close of a relationship so baby boy coming last was perfect. I do sometimes think about trying for a fourth in two years so he has a sibling close in age, and a brother would be great. But it's probably unlikely. He was the baby I almost gave up on but I didn't and I thank God for our little boy that makes our little world complete.
Being in the hard places in life in can be challenging, and I've often been anxious to get out of those places as fast as possible. But I later see why we have to go through those hard spots whether we put ourselves through them or they are brought to us by forces outside our control. There were times I wanted to quit or settle because it just seemed like it would be easier or I feared or doubted the outcome I desired. Now I thank God for the challenges and the path that lead me here to this place of happiness with my family, career, and life in general. I am finally standing where I was headed all along and it's a pretty great place to be standing (even if it's not currently air conditioned).
The three that complete it all: