Today my mind is on my sister-in-law as she will be admitted to the hospital this evening to be induced. Tomorrow, we will anxiously await news of the arrival of our new nephew, and then we'll journey as a family on Wednesday to meet him and celebrate in person. Our lives are marked by these transitions, and yet, before them come the real moments of change that go unnoticed. I'm remembering my last day before children. John and I had lunch with others to celebrate a friend's birthday, and planned to go out for ice cream after a routine doctor's visit. We were not expecting the early birth of our son, and so our last day as a childless couple passed by in a flurry of appointments, work, and errands. I wonder how we would have marked it differently if we had known what was to come. We were eagerly anticipating becoming parents, but the thing they never tell you (because you wouldn't fully understand) is how pivotal that change is. You are never the same people again. Your time is not your own, and your focus is not on you as an individual or a couple. You will think and feel differently. You will be forever tied to this tiny stranger who has captured your heart.
We have emerged from those bleary early years of sleepless nights, helplessness, and tears (and the babies grew out of it, too). What threatened to break us at times has made us stronger together. There are times that we despair at the relentless nature of the work of raising thoughtful humans, and we are still exhausted much of the time, missing time for ourselves. And yet, we wouldn't wish away these precious gifts, even though they come at an often painful price. I read somewhere a father describing the "unrequited love" we have for our children, and I agree, bearing the scars from hateful words carelessly thrown at me in anger. I am bruised by legs kicking in anger and frustration. I am often frustrated, fearing that we are not getting through to them.
There are moments that make it worth it, when I can see their God-given potential shine through, when they are wrapped around me in love, and I am grateful for these fleeting gifts. When I hold her as I once held her infant self, and her arms and legs dangle beyond my arms and I have to stop and freeze the image, knowing a time will come when she will no longer allow me to snuggle her like this. These are the moments I want to mark; these are the transitions that matter. She wants "Momaw"-Maryn dates and loves to make art. He is learning to ride his bike without training wheels and has a new-found love for Harry Potter. They are eager to share the events of their day with me when I get home. These are not momentous events, but the stuff of daily life that is always changing. But, for now, this is what holds us together. This is the love, always present within us, that opens our eyes to all the wonder and blessing in this ordinary time.