I’m sitting on my in-laws screen porch tonight surrounded by green and lulled to my deep thoughts by a whirring fan and a distant train. The one who changed it all is sitting on the floor playing with trucks and coasters.
I often tell people that my life has been beautiful. I graduated from college and moved to one of the most amazing places on earth. My life’s most crucial years were spent on those wet, bustling city streets, winding through those mountain roads, sitting long hours in a quiet, shaded coffee shop pondering life and love and God in three different languages. It was perfect. For a young girl to find the strong woman inside. For a single girl to fall in love with her Savior- over and over again.
I tell people I had a good long time to be single and chase my dreams and see the world. Then my husband suddenly soared onto the scene and I found myself alongside someone with whom I could share life and dreams and the world with.
Then along came my little world – changer.
Now “quiet” is a relative term. Anything lasting hours occurs in the middle of the night. Trips to those lush tropical mountains cost an extra thousand dollars. And if I ever want to spend hours in a coffee shop ever again, I’d better have a coloring book, an ipad, and a change of clothes.
Most days. MOST days, I sit and watch her and bask in the miracle that she is. Most days I long for her to stay so small and innocent and in awe of her world. Most days it’s enough just to get through the day and sink dreamily into my bed at night.
But now and then, on very rare, still occasions like this one, my nose catches a whiff of early morning dew on the bamboo trees. I hear a conversation in a familiar language and I want to break in. I gaze off into a dusky summer sky and wish I was there again.
There are still occasions where I want to be 26 again. Just getting comfortable in my adventure. Unaware that I’m on the verge of an incredible new journey in which I would move beyond so much of what it seemed I had worked so hard to gain.
Yes. There are days I want to be kidless. With a clean car and the ability to get out of the house in 5 minutes instead of 25. There are days I want to be single. Choosing my own restaurants, doing only my own laundry, going wherever whenever doing whatever I choose.
And of course, I immediately feel that familiar twinge of guilt. The shame that says you can’t want that again. You have to be deliriously happy right now. Right here. Looking back serves no one.
But now and then… Secretly. In tiny ways. I let myself slip back there. I get lost so deep in conversation with a friend that I don’t notice the screaming toddlers around us. I turn a familiar song up so loud on my sacred solo trip to the Dollar General to buy milk that I forget I am coming home to a house full of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry. I sit on a screen porch in the middle of a green wood and let my soul breathe, if but for a second, before dinner and bathtime and the toothbrush war and one more story and one more drink…
Because my yesterday is important. My Yesterday made me who I am today and will give me the strength and courage to face my tomorrow. My Yesterday is where I go to breathe when my today is too overwhelming.
It’s not a shameful place or a guilty place. It’s not a sad place or a place of longing. Rather, it’s a place of victories and overcoming and growing. It’s a safe place of being known and knowing I can survive. And if I can survive my yesterday, then I can survive my today. And my tomorrow.
So if you catch me gazing off and taking slow, deep breaths. Or if I hear a foreign voice and lean in closer and smile. Or if I cry when I get a moment to myself, just let me be. Know that I’ll be back soon…
And I’ll be better.
In my beautiful today.