It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.
Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.
Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.
Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.
Having children ruined my life.
I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.
Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.
Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.
But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.