Marriage snuck up on me. Just when I decided I really knew what my 5-to-10 year trajectory was going to look like and was confident that a boy-free me was best suited for that plan–God spoke.
The very first time I heard the voice of the Lord was when He whispered to my spirit “I am preparing you to be married.” This startled me. In my mind I was fully content being single and had almost written off marriage as only necessary for the faint of heart. Someone who couldn’t persist in a real goal or a dream or ambition and got stuck in this seeming log-jam called love.
So that encounter with the Lord caused me to be skittish, then, about any male I encountered. Was it him? The MBA student whose car I backed into in the parking lot of my apartment even became suspect. (He’d have to learn English first, I thought.)
I knew this was the voice of God but couldn’t quite put together the pieces of it all. Just a few months later I had a second, similar encounter with God. I heard this: You are going to marry Nate.
What?! This was about the equivalent of me hearing I was going to marry my mailman. I told myself that he was the least-likely candidate on the ever-growing list of possible mates I began formulating after that first encounter. In fact, I think the mailman carried a higher rank on the list than Nate.
The strange thing was that once I heard those words from God, I knew it was true. I started to realize that I really, actually, was already in love. That those feelings I’d dismissed as temporary lapses of real reason were actually love. I loved him. It seemed senseless, yet it wasn’t long before I couldn’t picture it any other way.
A few years into our marriage and my apple cart was upset again. We assumed we’d be like any other friends of ours who decided they wanted to have children and then conceive. On top of this, it seemed that God had made himself clear that we would, in fact, conceive. Every six months, I was re-inventing what I pictured the future to be with our soon-to-be child. CYM (“Cute Young Mom”) was the initial term Nate and I coined for other twenty-somethings who had a diaper bag on one arm and a child in the other, but not at the expense of looking fresh. I wanted to convince myself that motherhood wouldn’t leave me washed up, with no signs of my former life.
Year after year that term got less use, until we finally retired it. CYMs were not thirty-somethings in my book.
At even twenty-seven, the mommy concept felt full of sacrifice. I had a running list of things that had to go at new baby’s introduction. While this didn’t hinder my desire to be a mother, I just found myself subscribing to how so many described parenting as the “end of your life.” Picturing late-night feedings shared the same space in my mind as preparing for how I would get as much time as possible away from the “little terrors” so that I could survive them.
The first time I realized that line-of-thinking had faded was last summer, just before we picked up the children. I had a series of “you just wait” conversations. Even well-intentioned strangers felt the need to help me brace myself for the horror coming when my life as I knew it was going to end. I don’t at all want to dismiss the major transition that comes with children, nor the pain so many deal with as their identities are turned on their ear, but for me at that time I just kept thinking … but I want my life to change.
I’d been waiting a long time, see.
And being in a state of waiting is not just being in a holding place. Waiting — actively waiting, pursuing, seeking — creates expansion. I have yet to see someone who waited on God for something, then not experience a greater capacity to receive the full benefits of that promise when it finally came. As I waited on motherhood, motherhood found me. It settled into my bones. It became part of who I was, before I even actively engaged in it.
I have great compassion for the person who stumbles into parenting at a time when they didn’t feel they were quite ready. It is taxing. It stretches all of who you are. And to “fall” into it can be a shock to your system. I did that with my marriage. (Nate wanted me to write here that it’s really good now–and that he’s the best husband ever.)
But with my children, my plans were thwarted by delay this time. And for some reason this delay made me want to soak up every minute I can with my children. Because, actually, I don’t reminisce about my former life much. Sure, I miss 45-minute stints in the sauna and I still desperately need my alone time each week, but I don’t see my kids holding me back from my true calling. They are my true calling.
What was once a conversation about where we wanted to cap-off our family has now become a conversation about how we can grow it bigger. I sometimes wonder how differently we’d see life and parenting had we seen them as an interruption rather than a long-awaited dream. God’s delay caused this chick to expand her tent pegs (if nothing else to see if you can do life as a mom of many without a jumper in your closet ;)).
My personal experience is not a prescription. Nor is it an argument for waiting to have children. God has wired each of us, with our own stories, differently. And mine just so happens to have landed me seeking CYM status, with gray hair. And loving it.