Micah snuggles into my neck, leaving a sticky residue of pureed bananas and crumbling graham crackers on my tired shoulder. His chubby fingers intertwine themselves in my hair, and he giggles at the sensation.
Abby twirls in her latest costume get-up, talking non-stop with every waking breathe. Talking and talking back. Smiling sweetly and stomping her foot angrily. She reminds me so much of myself, and the ache of my own inadequacy in knowing how to raise her grows stronger with each passing day.
David looks up wearily from his computer screen, where the job hunt is in full swing. The months of working long hours and commuting several hours a day in an uncertain contract position have taken their toll on both of us. He is my best friend, my lover, my steady force in the storm. Most days lately that means that we are both lonely. I do the early morning shift with the kids, and he does the late. If we are lucky, we occasionally meet in the middle. I touch his arm in bed and simply comfort myself with the knowledge that we are committed to this journey together.
I see myself in the mirror, and a woman with deepening lines stares back. Her lids are heavy with sleepless nights, and her forehead creases with the telltale signs of years of smiling, years of pressing through, years of pressing in. Her body still needs to heal from her last pregnancy and birth, and her soul craves answers – house, jobs, goals. She drinks coffee before water in the morning, and sips whiskey before tea in the evening. She hasn’t journaled or blogged in months, but most thoughts are accompanied by prayers. And, yet, there is no naive trust. But she wields the power of truth – and even from ugly truths – she doesn’t shy away. She has grown braver in the last year. More confident in her ability to lead, to work full time as a mother, to creatively find solutions for business problems. And, yet, in the crush of what 50+ hour work weeks have produced in her personal life, a new resolve has formulated. The resolve to choose a different – a harder – path: come what may.
We aren’t buying the house. We aren’t saving for our kids’ college. We aren’t saving at all. We don’t know where we will be living at the end of this year. But we know we will be together. We know we will learn to pray together again. Learn to sit once again in situations that, frankly, make me angry. When it feels like we are professionally moving backwards, I’m tenaciously hanging onto the beauty and power of the choices that we are making. To leave a job that has filled me with so much fulfillment to treasure more of the moments with my favorite people in the whole wide world.
Micah’s slobbery kisses.
Abby’s princess dresses.
David’s touch as sleep claims us both.
So, in August, when our boxes have been moved into storage and friends’ basements, and our lives have slowed down a bit, I’m embarking upon a personal journey to stare deeply at the lines of that woman in the mirror. Stare at the lines on her face and smile even more. Stare at the lines in her soul and find her new equilibrium in God’s grace and His sufficiency. Stare at the lines of the budget and figure out what it is going to take to make ends meet. I long to find the woman who trusts God and trusts in daily sweet communion with him. I have some harsh lines now that are unbecoming. Lines that make me cringe when they speak out in frustration.
But, one day those lines will also hopefully speak of wisdom gleaned and hope found. Of dreams realized and children received in thankfulness.