Monday, May 16, 2011

Growing up

For mothers day this year my four year old son picked out a stunning set of silver hoop earrings for me. When I opened them he told me how “gorgeous” he thought they would be on me and that I should have worn them to my wedding because they were so beautiful.

He then decided that it was too bad I didn’t still have my wedding dress because then I could put it on and be “gorgeous”. After I laughed at how his perception of ultimate gorgeousness included a wedding dress, I proceeded to tell him that I indeed DO still have my wedding dress. He excitedly started planning my makeover. At this point I had to burst his little bubble and tell him that I didn’t think the wedding dress would fit me anymore. This confused his little mind because he didn’t think grownups were supposed to grow anymore… Yes, well… neither did I son, neither did I!!

Grown ups DO indeed keep growing in many different ways (some more desirable than others!) I was recently thinking about my 21 year old newlywed self and wondering if I would go back.
Yes, I would LOVE to fit in that dress again and I miss my tiny waistline, but I also wouldn’t have four little people around me (who ruined that waistline). That young me was sweet and full of hope, constantly looking for someone to help. The new me is tired and busy, constantly dreaming of someone to help ME!!
I’ve been comparing myself to the girl I used to be. I look at the growth that I have made in the last ten years and I am not sure I would want to go back. I would have time for myself and I would only be tired because I stayed up late talking and staring into Johnny’s eyes. Now I am tired from folding 7 loads of laundry and getting up in the night (four times) with a scared, trembling child. That young me might have been able to do crafts (that didn’t involve finger paints) and read books (that weren’t Goodnight Moon) and sit down to watch a movie (that wasn’t Cars)… but that me would also have missed the little creature who is downstairs calling for his Mama to come play.
That younger me might not yell as much, but she wouldn’t be learning (and relearning…) patience when a 1 year old wants to dress himself. Her house might be cleaner, but she probably wouldn't appreciate the incredible beauty of an empty laundry basket or a freshly scrubbed floor. That young girl hadn't learned the difficult lessons of life that come with a heartbreaking infertility struggle or the sacrifice and sickness involved in pregnancy. But that young me also didn't know the unspeakable joy of holding a new little person or the complete bliss of watching a tired toddler finally drift off to sleep in her arms. I think she may have felt a familiar longing as she watched me rock a fevered baby (or two). She may have even shed a tear as she watched me teach an 18 month old how to pray or as she overheard my 6 year old pray for me.
At 21, I didn’t know that I would move across the country, far away from my family and friends. But I also didn’t know that I would make some of the best friends of my life and grow to love my new home (then cry when I had to leave it and start all over again in a new place).
My 21 year old self was confident, friendly, and excited about life. She was also naive, inconsiderate at times, and just slightly selfish. Though I am still far from perfect, the “old” me is strong in so many more ways than I could have imagined!
Some of the growing and stretching I've done has been painful. That young me didn't know the heartbreak of crying with a friend who has lost a child or the sorrow that comes from watching others suffer. She hadn't experienced severe loss, or pain, or the ache of quiet struggle, but she also didn't fully appreciate joy, compassion, and peace.
Sometimes that growing and stretching hurts so much but I am learning to embrace the stretch marks, both outside and inside, because the blessings that have come from my struggles have brought me more joy than my 21 year old self could have ever imagined! They are a part of who I am growing up to be!

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