I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I seem to go through phases of just getting completely caught up in the little moments I have over here, and feeling completely grateful. This is one of those phases, and I have been consumed by thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future… at the same time. My brain is in overdrive. I think it’s because this year Kyle and I will celebrate a decade together. And in a month, 5 years of marriage. I think either of those are feat any way you slice’em. Not because he’s so horrible, but because we’ve done a lot of life together. Some things of life could have certainly gotten in the way of making it to this point, but we committed to not let them. And it feels nice to be able to fall back on that commitment when we need to. We’ve had big plans since we started dating in 2005, and plenty of time to change and adapt. Certainly not everything has gone according to plan (enter: Leah), but for the most part my life now is every bit how I saw it 10 years ago. So in all of my looking back and looking ahead, I have decided to organize our decade with chapters.
I’d call the first, Chapter One. Because, duh. The beginning of it all. Catching awkward glances at the college dining hall, but not really wanting to be the crazy girl that interrupts his lunch with the baseball team. Calling us “official” the day he turned 20. Sitting in sleet watching him pitch… and then all the other people pitch when it wasn’t his day. College formals. Going to his house (now this very home I’m typing in) and meeting his friends and family. Taking him to mine. Realizing how smart he was. Going to watch a scary movie with my eyes closed the entire time, because I just couldn’t tell him how scared I was. Pretending to like Cardinals baseball until one day I decided that I actually did! Dreaming up houses and babies and puppies. Getting the phone call that he failed one of his big exams, and sitting silent except for tears. Career searching. Wedding planning. We started Chapter One as carefree as could be. Just a couple of college kids who liked each other. And we ended Chapter One as real people making a contribution to society. And I had a shiny ring on my finger. It was a Chapter One to a tee. Filled with introductions, set backs, and powering through.
Chapter Two I think would be really fun. I mean, it was really fun. It started with a wedding. A wedding that didn’t really change anything except for my last name (RIP to my other, really good last name). Traveling to a foreign land together (St. Lucia). This would be the chapter of us learning to live with each other. Renting our first apartment. Kissing each other goodbye to go to work each morning. Starting to collect things that resembled a life together. And oh yes, waking that new husband up at 6:30am one morning to tell him I was pregnant with his first born. And then sitting in silence with him. Taking walks on cool fall evenings trying to figure out how to adjust our life as two to a life with three. Collecting baby gadgets. Watching softball games. Growing a belly. Celebrating one year of marriage, and realizing that it would be the only anniversary we get sans kids, and even that, not entirely. Waiting for labor together. Checking into a hospital together, hands shaking. Hearing the first cry of our first born. Welcoming her home. Raising an infant. Going on family vacations. Buying her a new home. Buying her a puppy. It was a Chapter full of immense responsibility and growth as a couple and a family.
Our Chapter Three would be stressful. It would start as we decided to give Leah a sister. Assuming it would be as easy as our first surprise, but learning quickly it would not go as planned. It would be me crying a lot and Kyle learning more than he ever wanted to about the female reproductive cycle. But we were fortunate, and it worked with time. Next up, we’d buy a minivan. I would grow a baby and raise a toddler.. and a puppy. I would throw up on myself in my car (thanks, Quinn). Kyle would study and study. We would acquire more and more baby gadgets. We would take our first family plane ride. Kyle would start preparing for the last big exam. I would start preparing for life with two. We would try to find routine amongst the stresses of preparing for family of four status AND life or death as far as Kyle’s career was concerned. It would be a short chapter, and there would be really good times, but it would be heavy. But the very last page would be maybe the happiest in the book. Kyle would take and feel confident in his test. The weight of the world would be lifted. We would leave our house on November 1st, at 5:30am, drive to the hospital, and hear another perfect cry at 8:19am. Life would start… again.
My Chapter Four would start the second we walked in the house with a car seat full of new baby. That’s when life really got real. I’ve talked about before, how a lot of times I just feel like I’m playing house sometimes. In a good way, but it just doesn’t seem like this should all be mine. But the second we entered the house, life became more real than it ever had before. What a crazy chapter Chapter Four was. For about fifteen months we learned how to manage two babies and still like each other. We settled into this role of being parents perhaps more than we ever did with just one. It takes a lot to raise two little people, and we spent Chapter Four learning what worked and what did not. We found rhythm and routine. We found out Kyle passed his last exam and was d.o.n.e. We celebrated the first born turning three and entering into little girlness. We went to Disney World. We celebrated an amazing year that Quinn had. We got her a puppy. We did some really good and fun things, but mainly Chapter Four was a chapter of living. Of being a family. Figuring out how to do this thing, and trying to do it well. It would be overwhelmingly happy, with a light dusting of stress. 🙂
And then Chapter Five. This one hasn’t been written, but it’s certainly in draft form. As all good chapters do, it started with a bang. The symbol clashing sound that has shaken things up around here. And it happened at 10:30pm. Falling asleep, I turned over to Kyle, “have you ever thought about stopping with two kids?” “What??” I have impeccable timing with giant, life changing events, I know. 6:30am, “wake up, Kyle, we’re going to have a baby!” And then at 10:30 at night, “hey, let’s abandon everything we’ve ever said and stop with what we’ve got.” I’m positive this is my best trait. But seriously, that little question has at the forefront of everything we’ve talked about since that night. I mean, we have really good kids. They are super cute. They are healthy and perfect and manageable. There is one for each of us. I had two really awesome pregnancies with two uncomplicated births. Is there really a reason to press our luck on all of that? A lot of times I will look at a picture of all four (two humans, two dogs) and think that they are the kids we should have. That somehow Samson completed the set. Nothing more to talk about. They are a good looking group. Of course, Kyle likes the budget a lot better with two. We could go to Disney World a LOT more with two kids as opposed to the four that we intended. After Leah was born, my brain almost instantly went to baby number two. I needed another one in my belly, another one to nurse, another one to cuddle, and a sibling for the first. I couldn’t get started soon enough. And then we got her. And she, along with Leah, is everything I could have ever wanted. And suddenly, my mind doesn’t jump ahead. I am thoroughly enjoying my present. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I’m missing something. Everyone seems to be present and accounted for… for now. I’m not saying we will can the idea all together, I am still a sucker for a pregnant belly and a fresh baby, believe me. The “for now” still rings loud in my ears. The pro and con list is growing in both directions. It’s a weird thing, to try to make a family. And to try and realize when you have it. Sometimes I wish it was all laid out ahead of time, but I guess figuring out for yourselves is part of the fun of it. What I do know is that whatever it is we have right now has got me over the moon with joy and beaming with pride at every turn. And that’s a really good feeling.
So I’m left full of wonder with what Chapter Six will look like? I’ve never been much for reading books, I “spark noted” my way through high school and college. Skimming and picking out the good stuff is kind of my thing. It’s been something else to live this one page for page. Luckily, it has had enough in it to keep me entertained. 🙂
Disclaimer: We fully understand that this type of “decision” means that I will be pregnant next month. 🙂