This was meant to be a blog post a few weeks ago; however, the blog wasn't working, and I didn't want the thoughts or the moment to pass without expressing what I was feeling so I wrote it on Facebook. Many of you have probably already read it, but for those who are new to my world, I thought it was worth repeating (and I have a limited amount of time for writing with child # 8 arriving soon!). I penned the following words on a beautiful, crisp morning in the mountains, feeling extremely peaceful about my place in the world as Ryan and I were able to get away for a few days to celebrate our fourth anniversary together in a rustic cabin. This particular morning also brought the additional joy of receiving an email from the university to inform me that I was officially finished with a nine year degree program. Relief, joy, and peace flooded my soul, all three feelings together being a rarity in my world.
(Keepin it real - the obligatory vacation selfie. Very pregnant, no sleep, no makeup, rustic pose - yes, this was the best of the five pictures we took)
Today I have entirely different feelings flooding my soul as I slowly acknowledge the reality that this is my children's last day of school. There are two categories of moms in the world - those who love what tomorrow brings and those who don't. I fall into the latter category. I can handle the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the physical aspect of it all (even at eight months pregnant) but the mental onslaught of so many little mouths uttering the word "mom" all day long is admittedly draining - especially for an admittedly over thinking, over analyzing, overly introverted person such as myself. That being said, let's focus on the good feelings I was feeling just a month ago as I celebrated in the mountains with my husband and without my children.
Here's the post:
Today marks my fourth year of marriage to a remarkable man. As a partnership we have lived lifetimes together, and our love is deeper and more meaningful than ever before. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for us. We were able to get away to a rustic cabin in the mountains (not something I'd recommend - rustic and pregnancy don't go together well, aka no sleep), but we have enjoyed the mental break that is always present with the absence of children.
Today also marks a sense of accomplishment as I woke up, checked my email, and received a much anticipated message from my professor simply saying, "Jessica, you are FINISHED!"
The end of a 9 year era in school and the culmination of a life long dream - a Masters Degree.
I've had many moments of quiet reflection and contemplation on this short getaway, and I had to laugh as I stumbled upon this gem of an entry from my journal on April 2, 2004.
"Thirteen days until my 27th birthday. I can’t believe it! The remainder of my twenties I will be busy making a family (we’re thinking four babies), and in my thirties I can relax and get back to myself."
My reality? Pregnant for the 6th time, 7 weeks away from giving birth to my 8th child, married to an aspiring farmer/woodworker, both growing babies, him growing plants, me attempting to grow a writing career (when I’m done growing babies) and finally receiving a Master’s Degree after nine years, all out in the middle of nowhere. No, we don’t believe we’ve lost our minds; in fact, neither one of us has ever felt more fully alive.
Perfection. Maybe my forties will offer more relaxation.
There are a few truths, at least in my world, that resonate deeply as I reflect a week after my 38th birthday, the day of my anniversary, and 3 days away from walking across a podium to accept recognition for a ten year dream.
1. Life is fleeting and magical and sometimes a living Hell. Feel and face it all – the good, the bad, the ugly, lest you adopt an unhealthy coping mechanism that destroys everything you hold near and dear.
2. You will generally not convince others of your positions on issues. Unless you are married. Then it is considered coercion and not necessarily convincing.
3. It’s okay to not agree, and it’s okay to maintain a friendship with someone who doesn’t agree with you. It takes all kinds to make the world spin round.
4. Life truly is a miracle. I’ve never been more entranced by the pure spirituality and beauty of carrying this child in my belly. Never take life or the ability to nurture a life for granted. It is a gift.
5. Love deeply and touch often (those you love works best). Use words to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. If you are unable to speak the words, write, text, sing or trace them in the sand with a stick. Whatever. Just get the words out so those you love aren’t left wondering when you are no longer here. There is no closure for those who wonder.
6. The greatest gift you can give your family is an honest version of you. It’s the best version anyways. Don’t hold secrets from your family. Be you fully. Even in the nastiness.
7. Make peace with your past. Forgive. Forget. Move on. There is no greater burden under the sun than that of carrying unforgiveness in your heart.
8. The right pizza with a fine wine can be a little taste of Heaven.
9. Piles of laundry are a little taste of Hell.
10. Joy originates from a spirit of thankfulness. Thankfulness makes everything possible. Healing from just about anything stems from a thankful heart.
11. Getting older is a blessing. You’ll receive the premium botex special when you enter the pearly gates. In the meantime, make peace with the wrinkles and the saggy skin.
12. It really is in our best interest to eat as healthy as possible (and it helps a teeny, tiny bit in preventing the wrinkles and saggy skin). Minimally processed foods, lots of fruits, veggies, yogurt, and water. Move your body – walk, run or sprint. It never ceases to amaze me how Americans will spend millions on cancer treatments when they receive the diagnosis, but they won’t spend a few extra dollars or time on their health to avoid cancer. Over 40% of cancers are avoidable (bbcnews.org). That’s a big number.
13. Health is one of life’s greatest blessings. Truly. Monotony is also a blessing. A mother going through cancer treatments with her child would trade lives in a heartbeat for a mundane, boring life with your three, screaming, healthy brats. Believe me.
14. Say I love you every day. And while you’re at it, make love often. With your spouse. It works better that way, and it should be a gift that only you can give one another.
15. Recognize your vice. Do everything in your power throughout the years to become more proficient in overcoming this vice. But own it. Really own what causes you to stumble or it will own you.
16. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you say junior will get a consequence lest he cross a line again – give him the consequence. If you say you will be somewhere to help a friend, be there. The whole of your integrity is wrapped up in each small action that you do or don’t do.
17. God is good. All the time. It’s not a saying; it’s the truth. He has our best interests at heart even if we will never understand how or why this side of eternity.
18. Which leads me back to – Life is so fleeting. It could be over for any one of us tomorrow. Or next year with a horrific diagnosis. Or in five years with a car accident. We just don’t know. Live intentionally – Always. Live for the moment. Live for today. Make a bucket list and start crossing off the items one by one. Move to the mountains if that’s your dream. Or Manhattan. You have one shot at this thing. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? One shot at life. Follow that still small voice which beckons you to your destiny. Grow crops or bonds or children or words. Whatever lights your soul on fire. DO IT. No more excuses. It will all be over in a blink of an eye. Got it?
Just keep livin!!