Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Awe

I won't lie--there are so many moments, probably daily, in fact, where I just step back and marvel at life.  Most days I'm too busy to appreciate a lot of it, but once in a while (and more often lately), I have a spare moment to realize how blessed we are.  I know that can change at any given moment, but we really do have to appreciate the good while it's here.

The past three-plus months have been one heck of a journey.  And the past two years prior to that weren't really on the boring side, either.  But if you would have told me two years ago the full story of what we did and how we got to today, I'm not sure I'd have believed you.  And if you would have told me 15 years ago when I was graduating from college where I'd be right now, I'd probably have stared at you, wide-eyed and mouth hanging open in bewilderment.

While reading has not been my strong suit in recent years (aside from my time off and any kid-free airplane trips), I've always loved a good story.  I used to read a lot.  In fact, I recently dug back into my old books to find some joke books for Jacob, and I rediscovered a stash of detective-type books--easy reading books with clues and evidence that the reader uses to come to a conclusion in the case.  I loved that kind of stuff when I was a kid, and even now my author of choice tends to have a dozen mysteries woven into her storylines that swirl around for chapters before they all settle in to resolve the massive puzzle at the end.  I'm always fascinated by how a bunch of random pieces come together to reveal the full story.

I guess the same is true for real life.  Even though so many moments are not particularly pleasant as we live them, after the fact it's so fascinating to look around and realize how everything works out or ties in eventually.  Perhaps this all springs from my belief that everything happens for a reason.  Even if the reason is almost impossible to see, I feel like most things in life eventually, somehow, come full circle and make a little more sense.  I know it doesn't always happen right away, as I read the CaringBridge posts from my friends whose daughter passed away from cancer a couple months ago, and I see how their daily life is so challenged by Amanda's loss.  And I can't say that wound is ever going to heal for them, but I do pray that along the way they will see enough little ways their lives have been meaningfully touched through that experience that it will at least provide them with a sense of peace.

Part of surviving life is just making the best of the cards we're dealt.  Some people have a way easier time at that than others, be it because of their circumstances or their attitude or both, but I'm still just fascinated by the journey...the winding path we all walk.  The start, finish, and everything in between don't always make sense when looked at separately, but together, it becomes our history.  The more years that I live on this planet, the more amazed I am by the experiences I have had.  And, quite frankly, mine seem pretty tame compared to a lot of people.  But whenever I watch the random photo slide show on my screen saver, I marvel at the many moments that pop up.  Big moments, small moments, moments I nearly forgot, or moments where I'm so grateful I took a picture of something seemingly mundane.  Every trip, every kid moment, every sign that I'm a real grown-up...they truly blow my mind. 

I spent most of my teenage years and my early 20s dreaming of finding the right guy, having the perfect wedding, and living happily ever after.  Here I am, all these years later, going on 12 years of marriage with my very loving husband.  How has it been that long?  These days we long for a little more time alone to recapture the lighthearted fun of our early days, but our love is strong and we take so much joy from the little moments we have together and with the kids.

I always wondered what it would be like to have kids, but for the longest time I didn't feel ready. That was probably caused in part by the fact that people mistook me for a kid myself for a really long time.  It doesn't seem that long ago that I was the daydreaming teenager, and suddenly I look around and realize that I have not just one, but two kids.  I've been through two pregnancies, two deliveries, two rounds of infant exhaustion, and am now entering into a second round of toddlerhood and year two of the elementary school years.  I look at these little people that are 50% me and I can't quite fathom that I'm the mom.  We've been through quite a roller coaster over the last couple years with Jacob's various issues and our various adjustments to Carter's arrival in our family.  It amazes me to think of the ways I can feel like an "experienced parent" now, even if it's just over a very specific group. 

Now that I'm in my third real job, I look back and marvel at where I've been.  I made my dream come true by working in sports for almost six years (internship included).  And thanks to Craig sticking around in that business, I've experienced four championships from a bit of an inside perspective.  Two of those included crazy whirlwind trips that were well worth the crazy last-minute airfare!  Once the sports thing became incompatible with where I wanted my life to be, I switched to a job that I was completely clueless about going in.  It was a giant leap of faith that turned into almost nine years of a pretty good thing.  I worked with some great people and learned so much more about myself professionally.  The mere fact that I spent almost a decade there boggles my mind a bit.  For the longest time I longed to reach the same duration as my first job, so I could feel like more of an "old pro", and once I hit that milestone, suddenly time flew and I left that one in the dust.  Nine years went by in a flash.

And then, out of nowhere, it was all over.  I never imagined I'd find myself among the unemployed in that manner.  I knew it would be a turning point one way or another, where I'd either move along to something better, or it would be the start of an unfortunate decline for us.  Certainly I hoped it would be the former, but it definitely made me a little nervous.  I wasn't sure how to even approach the job market after such a long absence, but with a little hope it became clearer.  What I figured out is that I was such a different person when I left my old job (mom of two, Excel geek, in my mid-30s) than I was when I got there, and I had to approach the hunt with that new version--one that was more experienced in life, more confident in my skills, and more secure in myself.  And sure enough, I got something that's pretty close to my dream job.  I love being back in an academic setting, making good money and good benefits, and in a position to better the lives of my family in the long run.  Just when I thought a little part of my world was ending, I suddenly find myself in a better place than before!

Add in our quaint house, our great families, and all of the little things we take for granted every day, and it's clear we're really blessed.  Some days I want to pinch myself.  I look around and marvel that this is my life.  Of course, while most days that's a positive marvel, there are some days where I'm looking out of the corner of my eye for the do-over button.  But no matter what, I always come back to the idea that this is all a part of our family's story.  Hopefully someday Jacob's issues will pale in comparison to his success in life.  Hopefully someday the boys' difficulties co-existing will be a laughable memory and they'll be the best of friends.  Already my one-time desire for a daughter has been put to shame after two years with the sweetest second child I could have asked for.  We've come so far already and I look forward to the day we can look back and see how all of these random moments are a part of our bigger picture.  We feel so blessed--and yes, tired--but thankful for where we stand today. 

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