In my 24 years of life I have learned there is plenty to complain about. Most days of the year are too cold or too hot. There’s always something I’m not quite old enough or not quite young enough to do. Something always hurts. People in general are a little dumber than I think they should be. Including myself. Time goes too fast, or too slow. There’s too much to do. Or not enough. Even blessings seem to come with a little string of curses attached.
Yes, I’ve learned there’s plenty to complain about. I just call it naming the facts.
However, when it comes to your birthday nobody wants boring facts. Or even interesting ones. No one wants to think about the amount of calories in a cake, the aching pressure around your cerebellum, or how long a giraffe can hold its breath. *
Birthdays call for reflection. The one day a year that it’s not egotistical to celebrate you! A day to stop and reflect on your life, how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned along the way.
Life feels short. There is so much to accomplish. Growing up, getting degrees, making families, saving the world- all this while having fun no less. Why we shouldn’t have a second to waste! The world is your oyster! (What does that really mean, anyway?) And yet the cellulite on your backside can cause you to stop for a moment. And wonder. What is it all about? Well, I’m not here to answer that, but simply to muse on a few things I’ve learned.
Well, when it comes to God, I’ve learned a few basics. First of all, the more I try to learn about Him, the more I realize I don’t know. Condensing God into a comprehensible pocket of knowledge leads to disappointment and bitterness. God is never changing. Yet God is not predictable. And when it comes to God, things aren’t black and white. Except for when they are. Basically, my mind cannot wrap itself around God no matter how hard I try. And basically, the less I try to make God more like me, the more I want to know Him.
I love friends! They are there for you. They love you unconditionally. They never let you down. Oh no, wait… That’s God again. Ok, friends. Friends are people you enjoy and live life with. They sometimes choose boyfriends over you. They get annoyed with your annoying habits. And they tend to let you down every once in a while. Every time a friend disappoints me, I realize something about them. They’re about as perfect as… me. You get my point. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that people aren’t perfect. But it’s nice to love and be loved by them anyway. Friends are perfect for laughing with, eating junk food with, feeling sick with after eating junk food, and crying with when necessary. Watching how my friends live their lives has helped me become better wife and a better mother. When my friends express their love for me, whether in action or words, they give me a token of hope that I try to share with the rest of the world. And lastly, I’ve learned that friends come and go. But there is good reason we still cherish even the friendships that have been gone for years.
Chaos. Family is a big chaotic bubble of lives forced to live connected in one way or another. It can be a beautiful mess or a tragic disaster. I have been blessed with a beautiful mess. I think I name the facts about family more than anything in life. I love it and I hate it. I run to it and I run from it. It has protected me and scarred me and pretty much made me who I am today. Oh family, how you drive me crazy. Somehow you have taught me how to be confident, even while pointing out my insecurities. You have taught me that I can be beautiful even when I feel terribly ugly. You have taught me that I can do anything, while also teaching me that it doesn’t come all at once. You have taught me what it means to “live life together” as they say. You are beautiful and I am happy to be a part of the mess.
It’s hard to be a wife, but I’d still choose it over being a husband. Wives are much harder to please. My husband is my favorite part about marriage. When we were dating I couldn’t imagine loving him more than I did then, I thought the only thing that could possibly make our relationship more perfect was marriage. When you get married you realize more than ever how far short you come from perfect every single day. But as I continue to remind myself, life is not about perfection, but finding and cherishing all the imperfect moments that make a life so special. Marriage is teaching me patience, for myself and for others. Love has a whole new meaning when shared with a person so intimately and consistently. There are no words to describe it and its meaning has been tainted so many times that finding it and keeping it is not easy to do. You just simply know it when you have it, and hopefully don’t let go of it. Marriage is not a happy ending, but a gift of companionship for the roads traveled. Road trips are no fun alone.
Now I’m going to apologize ahead of time because I know I’m going to be naming some facts. One of the best things that has ever happened in my life is having my baby boy. He is better than I could have ever imagined and I thank God for him every day. But seriously, if Eve could have seen what was coming before she ate that fruit, she would have run for dear life. Let’s start with pregnancy. I envy those women who get glowy eyed every time they talk about pregnancy because they love it so much. What’s to love?? I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty cool process going on, but the side effects blow. Nausea, exhaustion, constant discomfort, lack of sleep, a lot of peeing- I won’t even get into labor and delivery! Then to top it off, everyone expects you to be so happy all the time. Everyone thinks they have the right to know when you’ll be popping junior out, what the name will be, and if you’re going to breastfeed. Forgive me. Motherhood has taught me more than anything in my entire life put together. You truly learn what it means to put others first. In fact, you become so accustomed to it that you almost have to relearn how to take care of yourself. The most amazing thing is getting to know this person that you love more than anything before you even really know who they’ll become. Watching, teaching, learning. Now it doesn’t always feel wonderful or convenient, like at 3:30 am when the only cure for whatever is bothering junior is mommy’s very tired arms. But somehow we get through it, and we even love it. The world just doesn’t seem like such a bad place the day your two-year old walks up to you and says, “Love you mommy”. That, in and of itself, is worth a thousand sleepless nights.
All and all, I don’t think I’ve learned anything new or different than anyone else, but I must say I’ve enjoyed it. Even despite the facts. I don’t think there will be some huge climax or a fairy tale happy ending, but more a series of rolling hills, perhaps some a little steeper than others. Part of the reward in reaching the top of one hill is getting a glimpse of the next. So here’s to the top of my 24th hill! I am enjoying the view.
*There is no reason for a giraffe to hold its breath; therefore it has not been researched. Sorry to disappoint, I was interested as well.