In The Season Of Raising Little Ones, Would He Still Have Asked Me To?
Some times I have to stop and think if my husband had any idea what he was really getting himself into when he asked me to marry him.
Scratch that. Many times, I have to stop and ask myself if my husband really knew what he was getting himself into when he asked me to marry him. And I have to think that the answer is, most often, that he had no idea and for that I should be grateful because goodness knows, as much as I'd like to think he still would have asked, some days I'm just not sure of it.
Having babies and raising them has changed me, immensely and I don't just mean in the "my heart is so much bigger now and I fully comprehend the meaning of life" way. I mean in the "I'm pretty much kind of a shell of my former self, almost unrecognizable some days" kind of way.
I understand that pregnancy and the raising of little ones while they are still little is a season of life, one that I know I am blessed and lucky to experience. After all, that's what every blog, book and peer on social media tells me every where I turn. Trust me, I am grateful. I am utterly grateful to the point of worry that one day all of this wonderful-ness will be taken from me and my world, my whole world, will be shattered into smithereens.
But when I look down at my lap, shielded by my enormous belly, one that bears stains of diaper cream, washable marker and whatever the boys ate for lunch that day, I cringe. I can't help but ask myself, "Where is the woman my husband fell in love with eleven years ago?"
I know deep down she is beneath this mess, hiding in there somewhere. That carefree college co-ed with the bright smile, dewy skin and envious waistline.
The one who graduated at the top of her class and went on to pursue one of the most rewarding professions in the world, nursing. The one who held the hands of the dying, breathed life into their bodies, witnessed miracles and made a difference. The one who was so Type-A, her organization was sickening, her lists even had lists.
Today that woman is exhausted. Her hair is piled a top her head, not a stitch of make up to be seen on her face, the only color highlighting her tired eyes is the purplish hue in the bags that hang beneath them. She's wearing her husband's flannel pajama pants not only because they're the only thing that fits and is comfortable but because they are also one of the few items of clean laundry to be found in the house.
She no longer spends her days saving lives but rather raising them. Pouring nearly every bit of her own being into these tiny little souls that will one day, with any hope, grow up to be kind, compassionate and contributing members of society. A task whose end result is difficult to measure in story books read, peanut butter sandwiches made and heinies diapered.
She greets her husband most evenings not at the door but with an audible sigh, sometimes refusing to even leave her place at the table or the couch because she's just too tired to move, making him come to her for a welcome kiss home.
The only lists she makes now are grocery lists. Occasionally she writes a list of tropical destinations she dreams of jetting off too but they, too, are quickly replaced by reality: food items the pantry lacks, things around the house that need fixing, upcoming obstetrician visits and well child exam appointments.
Some days I look at myself in the mirror and I hardly recognize the face staring back at me.
What happened to that woman?
On a good day, you can see a glimmer of that fire that was once in her eyes. Much like she does, it just looks a bit... different. She lives her days, or tries to, with the same passion and dedication that she once did, however it's instilled in other things now. Certainly not herself or her patients, for she has long since donned her proverbial nurse's cap, not in a professional setting anyways. Nor is it instilled really in her appearance, that by 32 weeks pregnant, her effort and attire might say nothing more than, "I've given up."
But it can be seen in the way she mothers her little boys, the way she loves her family. In the way that she sacrifices for them, the way that she puts their needs well before her own. That no matter how difficult it is to stretch out on the floor and play trains, she does it. That although it's taxing, she carries them on her hip when they ask, lays with them before bed each night, shifting the weight of her enormous swollen belly to allow them to curl their tiny bodies into hers.
That she wakes with them in the middle of the night, night after night, and sits with them, willing her tired eyes to stay open as she strokes their hair, whispering sweet and pleasant things, shaking them of the nightmares that startled them awake.
And with whatever passion is left at the end of the day, she gives it over to her husband. It may not always be in the form of the attention he so desperately desires, but it's there in a kiss after the boys are in bed. A hot meal on the table. A whispered "thank you" for everything he does for her and the boys, something she doesn't say nearly enough.
She would like to think, that after knowing all of this, that the man she fell in love with years ago, when she was better rested, more patient, better organized, thinner, more relaxed, some days prettier and more motivated than others... that he still would have gotten down on one knee and asked her that question.
Full well knowing that the woman she was that day may be lost in translation years later. That although she would be the same girl but in a different season of life, she would perhaps need a little help, a little encouragement in rediscovering herself and dusting off those parts of herself that disappear in the mess that is raising little ones.
Deep down she knows that woman is still very much a part of her and much like the different seasons in life, she knows, one day, she won't have to look nearly has hard to find her.
She knows, deep down, that yes, had he known the woman she would become down the road, that absolutely, without a doubt, he still would have asked her to marry him.