Once upon a time, I was younger, thinner, more tanned. I traveled more, to fabulous places like France, Italy, and Hawaii. I had awesome hair and awesome clothes. I was more frivolous with my money. I was free to come and go as I pleased, and thought the toughest thing in life was college homework and deciding which outfit to wear on Friday nights. I was living the life.
Good stuff, right?
I thought I was in love once when I was younger. I thought I was in love so much that I married a man who wasn’t good for me right from the start. Even though I gave him four years of my life in marriage and it ended horribly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. From that marriage came the single biggest blessing of my life.
From that not-so-good marriage I learned what the good stuff really is…
Embracing the Good Stuff
Good stuff like…
…feeling those little hands and feet move inside of you for the first time, and falling in love with a little person you’ve never met but only seen on a screen in the doctor’s office.
…that rush to the hospital at 2:00 in the morning, thinking it’s a false alarm because you have two weeks until your due date, only to hear that gorgeous scream of your healthy eight-pound baby girl and hold her for the first time before passing out together from sheer exhaustion.
…trying to learn to be a mom and making all those mistakes new moms make and thinking you are the worst mom ever…until you realize you are the only thing that angel wants right now. You are the only person who calms her.
…that sweet smile that comes from a chocolate-covered mouth on a child who always wants a kiss from Mommy.
…finding snot and crumbs and other unknown substances stuck to your clothes and in your hair and realizing it doesn’t bother you because a little person loves you and hugs you and depends on you for everything.
…the smile that lights up the room when you pick her up after work, and she comes barreling toward you, arms spread wide for a big hug that you never want to end.
…that warm little body snuggled up at the end of a long day, tiny little hand wrapped tightly around your finger, sleeping peacefully.
…the dance parties in the living room to The Wiggles, and the sad fact that you know every single word.
…those stacks and stacks of hand-made art projects, pictures drawn, love notes written…each one unique and too beautiful to be tossed in the trash.
…the first steps, the first words, the first Christmas, the first tooth, the first hair cut, the first day of school, the first trip to Disney World, the first crush…
…that innocent request for just “five more minutes” of story time, and you gladly give in and snuggle closer.
…the hand you hold everywhere you go, that tiny little hand that seems to grow way too quickly, but continues to hold onto yours no matter what.
…the excitement in her eyes when you show up at school to have lunch with her, and how she can’t wait to show you off to her classmates — even in 5th grade — and overhearing her friends call you the “cool mom.”
…when she confides in you every minute detail of her day, her week, her life – sharing everything and trusting you with it completely.
…the conversations, hundreds of them, that take place each day in the car during your hour-long commute home, and not taking a single one of them for granted, because that’s where secrets are shared, jokes are told, songs are sung, and words of wisdom are passed down to a new generation.
…watching her accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and witnessing the full immersion baptism, your heart about to explode with love and pride, and the peace that comes from knowing that, no matter what, her future is secure in the arms of Jesus.
…going through the tough stuff of life – divorce, court, foreclosure, loss of a business, learning to date again, and finally marrying the man you were meant to spend your life with – and having her right there, loving you through it, and giving you a reason to keep going every morning.
…watching her grow up and realizing that all that bad stuff has not ruined her, only strengthened her, and made her appreciate the life she has all that much more.
…watching her crawl into the lap of her stepfather, whom she adores, and call him by the pet name she has lovingly given him, hugging him and kissing him goodnight.
The really, really good stuff is looking back 11 years later and realizing that you wouldn’t change a thing — not one single moment — because your child has made the past 11 years the happiest years of your entire life.