I hear the 'drip...drip...drip' and the beep of the coffee maker. The candles are glowing and giving off a faint vanilla and lavender scent. Standing up from my little white desk in my tiny dining room nook, I wrap my cardigan tighter around me. Slowly, I pour a warm cup of decaffeinated coffee and add my favorite hazelnut cream. The house is dark and I can hear the faint hum of the heater, soon to kick back on. Our fat black house cat hops in my lap, his favorite place, while I sit and write. I close my eyes before I begin putting my pen to the paper, and I breathe deeply. I can feel it encompassing my shoulders, I can smell it down to the bones of our one hundred year old home. I can sense it in the squeaks and creaks of these aging wooden floors- it is love. It is here. It is home.
I have always struggled with love. In high school I dated a handsome and Godly young man who I truly believed that I would marry. We met when we were fifteen and stayed together until I was eighteen and preparing to leave Michigan for Kentucky. That summer, I began to panic. I feared change and in my heart, I was convinced that I would end up being the one who got hurt in the relationship. So kissing another guy made total sense in my still very young mind, when in reality it ruined our relationship, making me emotionally miserable for many months of my freshman year of college.
Fast forward to my fifth year of marriage, when I was twenty-five and figuring out how to be Mom to two babies, fifteen months apart from each other. My hormones were a mess, I had Postpartum Thyroditis for almost two years straight and my emotions were all out of whack. It made total sense to start toying with an emotional attachment to someone else then, right? My once God-centered marriage, the one I naively believed was immune to wrong-doing, was shaken to its' core. I was so scared because everything seemed so good and so safe- Our jobs, two happy and healthy children, a beautiful home in the heart of the city; I began to consider sabotaging it, just like eighteen-year-old me.
What resulted was the worst storm our family has ever seen, a summer spent of guilt, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. The words 'I choose you' tattooed on our arms, are a daily reminder that my husband chose me, in spite of my failures; and that I so humbly, choose him in return.
The wick on the candle pops loudly. The coffee maker beeps again, this time letting me know that it has been almost two hours since it brewed. My cat stretches and yawns, looking up at me almost as if saying, “Aren't you ready for bed yet?” No, not yet. I want to write a little more. I want my heart to be reminded of how far it has stretched and grown, how it has been rebuilt from the tiny shatters along the way. I want to appreciate this life, this love. And then I want to close my tired eyes as I climb into bed, slipping my hand into his as I drift off.
Our children are so happy. Sweet Pierson and spunky Reese. Three and two, they are not anything I could have planned for, nor could my heart have ever realized the bittersweet pain it would endure by loving them. They have been spared, by the grace of God, from when I was digging my heels into figuring out how to accept grace and forgiveness. They never witnessed my husband's hurt and anger and they never heard me say that I thought about leaving. Thank God for this, for growth and for mercy—that we want our children to grow to know their Creator and that because of that, we strive to be better.
Life is leveling out, our routine now just flows, they love their nightly bath and bedtime. They are learning how to love each other as well as how to manage their feelings when they don't. He asks a million questions a day and he radiates love everywhere he goes. She speaks up a storm, and spends her day being Mommy to her baby dolls. She is absolutely the best cuddler in the entire universe. Together, they complete me.
Here I am, mother of two, wife of seven years and I have grown so much. I remember sobbing my eyes out (as well as shamefully spewing out some not-so-nice words) when I read 'pregnant' on that stick. He was seven months old; I had been nursing and taking a birth control pill safe for breastfeeding mothers. My cycle never started, I woke up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day three years ago feeling funny, and I just knew. Every single ounce of me doubted my capability of raising two tiny humans. “How am I going to go to the grocery store?” I thought. “How will I get out of the car and up the gazillion (ten...) steps to our home?” “How can I carry two children on my hips?” All of these trivial questions entered my brain and sadly stuck there for months on end, until learning she was a girl and when I started to embrace my journey with her. They play tag, running in circles around the open spaces of our first floor. Play-doh creations and Hotwheel races, dressing up like Batman and Princesses, experimenting with nail polish and Spiderman tattoos. And I just want to freeze time. Every single night before I climb into bed, I can't not quietly go into their rooms. It never fails that he is cuddling Lion and she is holding her Bitty Baby's hand, their fuzzy blankets warmly comforting their still baby cheeks.
My legs are beginning to fall asleep. I need to stretch them out and he jumps down. “Sorry, Sam,” I whisper. I close the cover to my journal which reads, “Let it Be.” I rest my head on the back of my hands and my eyes happily close. The words that have been said here, the memories that are embedded in this place; let them stay. I am so far from having it all together. I have screwed up, I have had to ask for complete forgiveness in more ways than one and I have cried into my husband's chest as he reminds me why I am loved. It doesn't come easily for me, sometimes it has even made me want to run. But the place that I am in, the “You are Here” dot that grounds me; it is their love. It is in the safety of his arms, the soothing tones of his voice. It is the contagious laughter that bursts from my children and in the warmth of their perfect embrace. The road to get here hasn't been easy but I am here now and that's all that matters.