God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches you by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly – not one. ~Rumi
Looking outside from my kitchen window, I’m overjoyed by the scene that unfolds before my eyes and I’m happily distracted by the chaos of kids all smiles from the mere fact that they can finally be outside–free to roam, to play, to move in good weather. My three content and good kids are playing as well together as they do alone. This is a blessing. The Girl is getting into every toy, ball, and game kept outside in the sturdy all-weather bin. The Boy is kicking the soccer ball around teaching them what he learned at practice today. Baby Girl is stealing her sister’s Barbie & Ken beach dolls and driving them askew in the turquoise and pink Barbie Jeep over the brick paver patio into the dirt and low brush that aligns the bricks. Soon that level of debris will be a flourishing landscape of high grasses, aromatic lavender plants, and other flowers and shrubs. Soon, we’ll be spending each and every day outdoors as the days grow warmer and the hours of sunlight increases. There was a time when all I could do was dream about and long for such a scene to be enjoying. Often times, I still can’t believe this wonderful life is mine.
Today has been one of those near perfect days when the party of five of us are happy upon waking and we have all been able to accomplish a little bit of something that each of us loves to do. Above us, the lemon yellow sun shone brightly and as The Boy remarked on the way to soccer practice, “No clouds are in the sky today! Are they hiding in space?” I’m no scientist so I couldn’t say, but we did talk about how cool it is to see the different types of clouds, but in contrast a cloudless sky is something like a gift. When we returned from soccer practice, the girls and The Husband were knee-deep in outside backyard fun. The Husband was finishing a stain on my Adirondack chairs, the girls were playing and squealing loudly as my girls do, and The Boy didn’t skip a beat as he headed around back to start digging in the sand. Baby Girl was in full delight as she skipped around the yard while simultaneously devouring a banana Popsicle. She came inside only to wipe the fruity goodness stuck on her face and melting down her hands into her coat. As I was washing the grime off my hands, she was begging to go back out there. The Girl informed me that she already had eaten her Popsicle and would like another, please. (Nice try!) However, because I wanted The Boy to have a healthy after-soccer snack and the girls already had their treats, I whipped up a vanilla and fruit milkshake for him and a strawberry green smoothie for me, and shared a little of each with the girls. Not a bad way to indulge in the afternoon! I do believe in the healing power of being outside as much as possible to cure a downtrodden mood and that a brisk walk can cure just about anything. A homemade treat never hurts, either.
The Husband and I were married ten years ago last December. Although we had known each other since I was in fifth grade, and he in seventh grade, it took us a long time to find each other again. When the stars finally aligned for us and God got us where we need to be, we were quick to fall in love. About a year later, we were engaged and after six more months, finally married. Children were always a shared dream; five the perfect number. We were relatively young when we made the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony—he, 28 and I, 27 years old. By the next year, I was pregnant with our first and we were tentatively excited as the pregnancy happened quicker than we had anticipated, but our hearts were full of love already for our first child. On Easter Sunday, we told our extended families as we gathered for the holiday and the equated joy was awesome to see in the faces and smiles of our family. It was only two days later that I came to understand just how quickly joy can change into sorrow and that there is no guarantee in this life. At 11 weeks, I began to miscarry and to my dismay there was nothing I could do to keep our Agnes Elizabeth here with us as my body wasn’t equipped to get through the first trimester. This first loss was emotionally and physically painful, dramatic and oh so sudden. The reality is that I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the shock and emptiness that came with losing her. Our path to parenthood was an uphill climb, often a battle. Our five-year infertility journey was wrought with pain all over the physical map including three more miscarriages, a ton of charting, tests, medicines and hormone treatments, shots, and a slew of other natural and medicinal chances. Toward the middle of it all, I started to lose hope. After the second miscarriage, I stopped feeling hopeful at a positive pregnancy tests and doubtful we’d ever be able to be the parents we so desperately wanted to be. What got me through was The Husband. He was my rock and my strength even when I could see that the effort to be parents was weighing him down, too. He used to tell me that no matter what, he and I were a family—just we alone— and that we’d always be together no matter what. He’ll never know how much that statement of faith and love kept me going through the toughest of times. Our marriage has been tested to the fullest in the first decade of our lives together, but we are stronger for having gone through all the agony and pain. Our togetherness has seen us through too much grief, but has endured to where we are today. I can honestly say that our blessings far outweigh all the trials and heartache we have ever had to encounter. The strength and resilience unique to us also enables us to conquer the day-to-day stresses of raising three children, including one with multiple special needs. There is no other man on this earth I’d rather be with; no greater friend is mine.
As the sun descends making way for a moonlit sky, I look outside and the sight before me tells a story of a day of hard playing including a bit of work, a messy and well-used back yard with a trail of play sand, a brick canvas of chalk art, and an assemblage of outdoor toys. All I ever wanted is what I finally have. The blessings are abundant and I am feeling quite overjoyed at the contentedness of my spirit.