"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I am still learning...that I wish I knew at 20

When I was 2o years old, I got married and started my adult life as a wife and, less than a year later, as a mother. At that point in my life, I knew everything.

I mean it. I was a genius, people. I could tell you the answer to anyone's problem, and I knew exactly what everyone should be doing with their lives. My brilliance didn't stop with other people, either...I knew exactly the best way to live my own life, too.

I knew the best way to parent, from the right way to experience childbirth all the way up to what precise path my children would take after highschool. I knew how to make my babies sleep through the night perfectly, how to potty train them effortlessly, how to teach them to read without breaking a sweat. I knew that if you always discipline your children correctly, they will always obey. I knew how easily I would lose the baby weight and get into perfect shape. I knew how to maintain perfect relationships with everyone in my life, and how to mend relationships if someone else did something to disturb them. I knew what God wanted for my life. I knew what God wanted for my children's lives. I knew what God wanted to see in the church. I knew that I knew more than anyone else did, and that if everyone would just listen to me, we'd all be fine.

Somewhere between 20 and 26, I managed to misplace all that knowledge. If you see it lying around somewhere, would you please return it to me?

I no longer know any of those things with any certainty at all. I have traded in all that knowledge for little gems like, "If you pretend not to smell the dirty diaper in hopes that your husband will give in and change it first, you will regret that tactic when you end up having to cut your baby's clothes off of her later in a futile attempt to change the diaper without getting anything on the floor, the walls, the baby's hair, and your own cute new dress that you just bought at Target."

Now I know things like how few minutes of sleep I can get overnight without actually dying the next day. I know that potty training is a process and no matter that the book says it will teach you to "train your child in less than a day" -- it will still be a process. I know that even with bright children who are eager to learn, teaching someone to read takes for.e.ver. and is not actually something I like to do. I know that losing the baby weight is less important than eating healthily and exercising regularly, and that even if I never again weigh what I did at 20, I will keep working to be healthy because life is easier when I am. I know that disciplining my children is one of the most difficult and relentless things I will ever do, and that despite all my love, consistency, and prayers, the end result is not guaranteed. And I do not know when all three of my children will always sleep all the way through every night.

I do not know how to fix broken relationships. I do know that it is not actually only other people that are to blame for breaking them. I do not know exactly what God wants to see in the church. I do know that He wants to see His love toward others in me.

I know that my life looks absolutely nothing like I expected it to look, and I am beginning to suspect that it never will. And I am so very grateful for that, because I also know now that God is making each step of the journey into exactly what I need it to be.

I know that God is love. I know that His grace is sufficient for me. And this life He has given me -- I know that it is beautiful.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tiny dancer...

Nine months ago, this was my little Ashley:

She was at her very first dance lesson, excited, but also nervous as could be. There is tension in every line of her body in this picture, and her little nervous feet...so precious.

Yesterday was her dance recital, and my little girl danced around the stage, tapping and twirling and singing her heart out, beaming a sparkling smile the whole time! She has had so much fun in this first year of dance, and loved every second of her recital. We are so proud of her for giving herself to the experience whole heartedly.

Waiting backstage...and waiting...and waiting...I think there were 16 dances in the recital, and Ashley was only in one of them, so there was a lot of waiting. This is one of her babysitters, who was also in the recital, and came to the rescue with VeggieTales on her ipod. Rhegan, I love you!!

Also, in that picture Ashley's hair isn't curled yet, but I curled it, and it seriously took at least 45 minutes. It was a little bit ridiculous. Her hair is about three times as long and thick as the other girls in her class!

We were all SO proud of our beautiful Ashley! Ok, except for Hannah, who apparently wasn't proud at all. She was more like, "Ok, someone said we're going to have dinner next. Right? Are we going to have dinner next? Next, as in soon??"

This picture just speaks for itself... *LOVE*

Ashley, you danced beautifully, and we're proud of you! But we're even more proud that your beautiful heart shined through. You spent nine months listening to your teacher and following her directions, practicing diligently and with a smile, fighting your way through skipping backwards (even through the tears) until you mastered it so well that you can do it better than Mummy can, befriending your classmates, and sparkling like the princess of the King that you are. Yesterday your smile lit up the stage, and my heart overflowed to see how dozens of people -- your fellow dancers and your teachers -- gathered around to give you big hugs before we could leave. You are beautiful in every way.

We love you, tiny dancer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm back in the blog-o-sphere!

It makes me sad that it has been weeks since I blogged. Writing is therapeutic for me, even when I am just recording the sweet and silly things that the girls say and do, and I miss having that outlet when I stop blogging. I have no explanation or excuses for my absence (sometimes life hits hard and it just takes a while to get back up), but I have missed my little blog and am glad to be back. :-)

This is just my "I'm baaaaaaack!" post, so it's not long or exciting, but I do have a cute picture to make it more fun! The girls and I went to the park this morning...

We took a picnic lunch, and the sunshine stayed out for us, so we were there for over two hours. We've been doing a lot of playing outside lately -- hours and hours every day when it's remotely nice out -- but that's all been in our backyard, so it was fun for all four of us to play somewhere new!

(And yes, I play with them on all that playground equipment. And no, I still can't do the monkey bars, thank-you-very-much-for-asking.)

On our way home I told the girls that if we passed a yard sale, I would stop and see if they had any outside toys. (Like I said, we've been spending endless hours outside -- we're in the market for something new!) This prompted a discussion of how they would let me know if they saw a yard sale; Hannah says, "I will yell 'yard sale!'", and Ashley says, "I will yell 'puppy!' because that is my code for 'yard sale'", and Bethany says, "I will yell 'apple!' because I call Daddy 'apple'!"

I am positive that my girls get sillier every day!