Tindell Baldwin »

Do you know what a worldwide pandemic and nationwide lockdown has provided me with lots of?

Fighting.

All day. everyday. Three of my four people telling the me the list of sins the other siblings have committed. It sounds something like this…

“Mom he looked at me with a mean face”

“Mom I can’t hear cause she’s yelling”

“Mom she won’t leave me alone”

“Mom he won’t give me alone time”

“Mom she hit me”

“Mom he closed the door on me”

“Mom, he’s dancing and I want to dance alone” (didn’t make this up)

“Mom, she told me I am not good at basketball”

“Mom he started the show with out me”

And the list just keeps going. Too much togetherness coupled with cancelled activities, time without friends, and just plain old boredom has created a hostile living environment. We have bickering before the waffle has even emerged from the toaster. With a baby on one hip my most muttered Covid phrase has been “figure it out” shortly followed by “not like that.” It’s amazing how when tensions are high the smallest offense can set off the alarm.

What frustrates me the most about all the bickering, besides the constant background noise that sounds like cats in a metal trashcan, is that they are missing out on the joy of the relationship. I came from a big family, three brothers to be exact,  I remember the utter annoyance I felt at brother b when brother c took his side and I remember the rage the boiled when my best attempts to annoy were met by a calm demeanor. I remember it all but I laugh about it retrospect because I love my brothers. My childhood was dreamy and we still jokingly call each other the stupid names we made up just to piss each other off. I want to whisper through clenched teeth at my kids “one day you guys will realize the gift you have in each other.” One day I pray this bickering will be distant memories we laugh about when we weren’t so mature and weren’t able to take a break.

One of the major hot button issues that seems to be a recurring theme in my kids quarreling matches is just how different the other is. Briggs wants Claire to listen more and talk less. Claire wants briggs to dance without abandon. We all want Colbie to pick her self up off the floor and stop crying long enough to understand what she’s saying. Benji wants everyone to go to school. I agree with Benji. 

The point is that the only thing my kids continually agree is they all need mom and she’s standing right there and if she doesn’t answer they should say it again…but louder. Besides that it’s all up for discussion. 

I pray though that one day they all come to appreciate just how different they are. One day Claire will see Briggs need for order and quiet as his gift he brings to our loud table. Briggs will see Claire’s constant imagination as the push we all need to keep dreaming. Colbie will remind us all to laugh hard and often I imagine. I think we will all stare in wonder at Benji every time he smiles (oh to be the baby). The point is one day when we are all a little more mature (myself included) we will be able to see this beautiful quilt God has been knitting in our family. We will appreciate the other colors he added to a square and perhaps the darkness in our own. We will see that our differences don’t divide us they make us more complete. 

I have wondered recently if God is feeling the same way, like he wishes we could all see the gift we have in each other instead of the divisive rage that has been created by our differences. I realize this is a very trivialized version of the current political, racial, and religious polarization thats happening every day but I wondered lately if our very need to rally together is being damaged because we are being caught up in our differences. 

Our current solution for when our kids fight is to have them sit on the bottom step arms around each other and talk through what is hurting them. We have noticed that when they focus on what happened we don’t get anywhere but when we ask them to talk about how they feel we can get to the bottom of it. Ben is credited for this stroke of parenting genius and it’s far more effective than any other method we have tried. Sitting arm in arm and talking about your hurt is hard to ignore. The blame game throws up defenses but vulnerability about our feelings when the other party is listening… well that shows our humanity.

I think we all need a moment on the stairs right now. A moment to look each other in the eyes, arms around one another, and hear the hurt. It seems like we would get farther linking arms than hurling insults and blame.  

And it takes and it takes and it takes

I woke up at 3 am singing that line. Sometimes insomnia takes the form of repeated song lyrics you can’t quite place. Like a ferris wheel it spins around and I keep waiting for the ride to stop.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

As the words circle around in my head I watch 2020 like a movie playing out. The countless meals I cooked for hurting friends, the tears of my children when plans were cancelled and they couldn’t see friends, the funeral of a friends mom who was taken too soon and the list goes on. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Tear after tear of a year filled with real pain and real loss.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

In the movie I watch Claire getting off the bus last March and I’m holding our 4 month old. I knew in my heart I wouldn’t see that bus for a while. I can see months of juggling four kids, their education, their church, their loss, and trying to keep it together. Nursing a baby while facilitating a zoom call for a 7 year old is not something anyone should have to do. There were months of Ben working extra long hours so he could keep his team afloat. I can see the countless nights we argued because we were all stuck in the house and I needed something I couldn’t get… reprieve. The hits felt like they wouldn’t stop. Painful phone call after painful phone call.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then I sent my kindergartner to school in our basement and watched my 2nd grader fall behind because she couldn’t go to school. I cried most days because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it all well. At night I would collapse exhausted yet awake, I knew what my kids needed but I couldn’t give it to them. We found the good of course… we went to the beach, went on walks, played games, and watched movies. We learned to turn our house into a school, church, office, and gym. We utilized every room and I kept praying for patience, hope, and change. We watched the country rip itself apart with lines in the sand and no grace or understanding. We read the news and then stopped when it seemed the only thing we could agree on was that no one could agree. We rode waves of fear, uncertainty, fatigue, and questions. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then school started… in the building. I thought we had survived. At least we could find a way forward. For a few months it looked like the worst may be behind us and that we had pulled off this almost impossible ask. Benji turned one, we celebrated what a joy he is but I quietly mourned that I had lost his whole first year. We mourned so much loss. The loss of normal, the loss stability, the loss of gathering as a church, and I wondered when it would stop taking? The kids asked when they could stop feeling afraid. They prayed every night for God to take the virus away. I told them we weren’t afraid. I told them we would be wise and seek the council of those who knew more but we were not afraid. Their little hearts hardly registered it all. They just knew there was pain and fear all around them and we struggled to bridge the gap at home.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then a storm blew through and devastation hit all around us. A pine tree fell on our house and missed our sons room by a few feet. Holes in the roof and our back deck caved in felt like an accurate representation of this year. We thought maybe the worst is behind us? We praised God for Benjis safety. Ben and I didn’t even care about the house in the wake of this year what was one more obstacle? Then numbers kept going up and the circle of the sick caved in around us. Then two weeks before Christmas Covid hit my dad. He got very sick and we watched Christmas slip away like all the other dreams we had for this year. 

And it takes.

And it takes.

And it takes.

Right before Christmas I tucked Briggs in one night and he just started to cry. He said “ mom is it true we won’t see birdie and poppy on Christmas? I heard you on the phone” I cried with him and told him yes buddy it was. My heart was breaking.I cried for another blow after a hard year. I cried for my mom who was at home riding the storm as my dad went in and out of fevers. I cried for my dad who loves our family gathering at Christmas. I cried for lost nerf gun fights and cousins cuddling watching Christmas movies. I cried because there had been so much lost. Was any of it huge? No, but small paper cuts add up over time. We were all sore and a little tender. 

Briggs asked if I would sing him the song that helps him sleep.In Christ alone, its the song I’ve been singing to him since he was a baby. In almost a whisper I started to sing

“In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light my strength my song. This cornerstone this solid ground. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”

And he gives, and he gives, and he gives

I left his room and  I thought there is someone who still gives in the middle of all the taking. There was hope to be found in the broken mess of a year we have had.

God always gives extravagantly more than we deserve because he gave us a Savior. Every night we would read a verse with the kids building up to Jesus birth and I could see it all. It was a glorious build up to the thing we all needed most… hope. His gift never aims to diminish the taking we will face but instead offers more hope than we could dare to imagine possible. I think that’s what I love about God, how honest the scripture is about our real struggle. Jesus was so upfront with his people about how hard life would be. It wasn’t that he gave them a way out of the pain but he did tell them he would give them more. “In this world you will have struggle but Take heart” he said, “I’ve overcome this world.” He was so honest. He was confident his gift would be enough in the middle of all the taking. 

He gives, and he gives, and he gives

My hope in Jesus won’t take away how hard this year was but this year won’t water down my faith either. I won’t be disappointed that God didn’t show up like I expected because I know he keeps showing up. I know he’s working in the broken mess even when I don’t know what he’s doing. He’s working in the pain and giving me what I didn’t even know I needed. I know that all the good I’ve been able to see is because of him and the hard I’ve been able to endure has been his doing also. This year has taught me that I am fragile, poised at any moment to be taken down but my God is able and worthy of all my trust. I don’t know what 2021 holds, it could be just as bad… in reality it could be worse. I know he will give though. In the middle of all the taking… he will give. 

*The line is from the incredible play Hamilton available on Disney+

I started working out when Colbie was a baby, at first it was the promise of an hour alone without all three kids and a chance to interact with adults. Then it quickly became something I really loved. I signed up for more classes and started pushing myself to actually set workout goals. I started back at classes this week after a short hiatus when Benji was born. My new classes are more challenging and I am realizing that the rice krispie treat parties for one I had regularly during pregnancy did not disappear when he was born. Who would have thought?

Part of my new class is running, I am not a runner, after years of running track I still struggled at the warm up half mile we did before every practice. When Ben and I started dating he once suggested that we run together and I told him I couldn’t run because I had small lungs. He still likes to laugh about that. I was a sprinter and a high jumper before everyone else hit puberty and caught up to me in height crushing my allusions that I was in fact good at high jump. Most people got better as they got older, I peaked in fifth grade. So I decided to stick to writing and journal away my frustrations that my brothers got all the athletic and singing genes. While I still think my lungs are below average in size (and webmd confirms my suspicions) I decided that I would challenge myself because being in shape is about the only way I can keep up with all these little people I’ve birthed. These people who all get 12 hours of sleep every night and have plenty of energy and I suspect above average lungs based on their ability to scream the newest Olaf song (dear Disney, why?). 

So there I was running on the track and one of the girls in my class was right in front me, I passed her and started running, then had to slow down when my *small lungs gave out, and she jogged right by me, my teacher lapped me for a second time and kept going. I stayed in this awkward rhythm for the rest of the 12 minutes, speed up for half a lap, slow down, passed by jogger, then lapped again by my teacher. I noticed that this other girl in my class clearly had her rhythm, she wasn’t the fastest on the track but she had set her pace and was sticking to it. She didn’t slow down or speed up, it was like she had entered a speed on the treadmill and was just moving. 

This year I have learned a lot about my “pace” in motherhood, in a season where there are 1 million things that need my attention I have learned to set the speed and just keep going. My very wise friend says, if its not a “hell yes” right now then it’s a no. I don’t need to look around or worry that I’m being “lapped” by some of the moms around me. Only I can set the speed for our not so little family and keep moving. She ended up running the entire time and I wondered how much of it was that she just knew her pace and didn’t waver? 

Each new years I try to do one thing, setting goals feels overwhelming in a time when my life is a bucket of unknowns so I just say one or two things I want to do during the year. Last year I wanted to read every night and write every Tuesday while all my kids were in school. The reading part was way easier than the writing part but for the most part I did it.

This year the thing God placed on my heart was social media. I wanted to give it up for a season and reassess its role in my life. I would love to think it didn’t play a role but the wiser part of me knows it does. I don’t think social media is bad but it messes up my pace, I look around and speed up not because I feel like thats best but because I’m lagging behind in a race of keeping appearances. I decided this year that I would stop setting my pace based on everyone else’s but instead base it on what makes sense for our family. What will help all 4 of my kids thrive? What will give me the most margin to cook family dinner and get rest? What will create the most space in our schedule for my marriage to grow? I realized it was easier to ask and answer these questions if I wasn’t constantly bombarded by everyone else’s pace. 

I know i’ll rejoin the social media realm eventually. This isn’t a permanent thing but in a time when we are readjusting our rhythm I need to find my pace and stick to it. I need to ask God what pace he wants for my family and be Ok if its slower than I would prefer (which is hard to do if you feel like he’s handing out more to everyone around you). The one thing I have learned is that time is a relentless it is like my teacher on the track, lapping me before I even know what’s happening so while I can’t make her stop I can stop myself and ask, what’s my pace and do the best with the time I do have.

  • Kelly - I love this. I love the idea of accepting your pace. And it can be tricky to find it as it’s a moving target but also so humbling too. God is so gracious in giving us free will but sometimes I wish He would have installed blinders on my eyes so I wouldn’t even be able to see what others do. But here’s to finding out stride and having fun!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Milligan - Hi Tindell, this is so encouraging, we do need to find our pace and stop comparing ourselves to the world, it was never meant to be our standard.ReplyCancel

Ben and I got to spend almost six days away together for our anniversary at the end of the summer. It was magical.  I wish I could say it was hard to be away for that long, but our kids were in the very capable and gracious hands of grandparents and it was a long hot summer. It helps that when we talked to them they were always on some grand adventure or having fun with said grandparents. I have made a vow to be this amazing for my own kids one day when they have kids. 

Then Sunday as we drove home real life started to settle in. The real life of schedules and issues. The real life of exhaustion and work. The real life of doctors visits for toe walking and heart issues of wanting more and nightmares that seem to never end. Real life is just exhausting. It doesn’t help that I am super pregnant and realizing that we will in fact have another person to add to the mix in mere weeks. (spoiler alert we added that little man 10 days ago and he’s just the sweetest)

The real issue is that at my core I pride myself on being capable, self sufficient, and willing for most challenges. However in the past few months I have found myself feeling like a crappy everything. A crappy writer for not sitting down and writing more. A crappy parent for loosing my patience at all of my little peoples little problems. A crappy spouse for being frustrated that work never seems to end when I want it to. A crappy neighbor for forgetting to bring the new neighbors something baked and her ending up on my door to introduce herself (although when my very pregnant self was making introductions and children kept appearing from out of no where she seemed all too understanding). A crappy friend for feeling unavailable and emotionally disconnected. Through tears I told ben I just don’t feel like I can do anything well. This is not a tirade for pity but a good dose of reality that some seasons leave us anything but capable. 

I am not in a capable season, I am in a dependent one. One where I depend on help from loved ones, one where I depend on the prayers of good friends, and the grace of Jesus on a minute by minute basis. There are plenty of days when I am capable (and the enneagram 3 in me would love nothing more than to look like I have it together all the time) but the Jesus in me knows my weakness is an invitation to growth and depth. My weakness is an invitation to others to need as well. It drops the veil on the social media lie that my life is always buttoned up. I think along the way we have started to believe that to be a good christian meant to always look like we are doing good. I’m not sure when self sufficiency became a hallmark of Christianity but dependency was always the invitation. 

Come to me all who are weary… (Matthew 11:28)

Trust in me….(Proverbs 3:5)

Lean on me… (Proverbs 3:6)

Find refuge in me… (psalm 71:7)

Come and find rest in me…. (Matthew 11:29)

Gods invitation through Jesus was completely clear, I’m here for you. Life will not work without me so I’m sending my son to do what you can’t do, to save you from yourself. Whether life is going exactly as planned or life is crumbling beneath you the message is the same from God, I offer you life and life in the full. So my three year old can loose her mind because I won’t give her candy at 9am and my five year old can tell me I’m mean and we can forget every permission slip I was supposed to send to school and the truth is the same, I need Jesus when I have it together and when I dont. I need him because well because I’m human So my need doesn’t make me a failure it makes me grateful, that God knew and he saw fit to provide a way.  

Today marks ten years since we said I do! In the weeks leading up to Ben and I getting married I told my family I was so tired of everyone telling me how hard marriage was going to be. I was blissfully in love and didn’t want anyone to bust my bubble. They laughed at my inexperienced yet overly confident view of marriage. So, ten years in this is a tribute to all the things we heard before we were married and once we were about how hard it would be. The things that I didn’t want to listen to and to all the really beautiful things I had no idea were coming our way.  

They told us it would be hard.

When we were preparing to get married and the future was full of great unknowns. They warned us there would be days where we didn’t like each other. Times when we fought more than we agreed. Seasons where our voices would be raised and our hearts would break and we would maybe wonder what we did. They told us that it would take hard work, that marriage was a battle you don’t enter into lightly. They told us that ups and downs would come and expectations would go unmet and tempers would flare. 

They told us it would be hard.

As each new milestone approached, as circumstances changed, and as moods shifted. They told us we would have to learn to grow together instead of apart. They told us our differences would try to divide us. They told us our upbringings would cause each of us to write a different story of what our love should look like. They told us that we would say things we would regret and have fights that didn’t matter. 

They told us it would be hard.

They told us kids would change us. They told us that our dynamic would shift each time we made room for another little person. They told us that busy seasons would try to separate us and opportunity would try to divide us. They told us sleepless nights and job stress would threaten to break us. They told us our sin would ultimately break each others heart. They told us that more kids than adults would make things challenging. That schedules and everyday would cast out romance and replace it with routine. They told us years 7-10 would be our most challenging. They said the statistics weren’t in our favor. 

They weren’t really wrong. The last ten years have been a battle, a fight to stay in love, to stay in the game, to stay committed, to stay dedicated to what we entered into. The past ten years have been a beautiful picture of God’s unending grace and forgiveness as we’ve had to humble ourselves and ask on more than one occasion, will you still love me?

There are so many things they forgot though. In all the warnings they didn’t mention that the hard things would be like a refining fire making our love more beautiful than we knew possible. 

They forgot to tell us how much richer love is when you’ve been through the flames of hard times and sleepless nights and phone calls that brought you to your knees. They failed to tell us how much our differences would make us grow and how much more of a complete person you become if you let the challenges shape you. They forgot to tell us that you get to let your guard down and accept the scary reality that love takes vulnerability. They didn’t tell us how much we would laugh. They didn’t tell us that we would know exactly what to say when the other person needed to smile. They didn’t tell us we would always have a friend in the lonely times, a champion in the good times, and a hand to hold in all the hard times. 

The truth is I knew it would be hard, I was just scared we didn’t have what it takes. I was scared I wouldn’t be the woman I had promised to be on the day we said I do. I greatly underestimated the transformative power of sacrificial love and a God who is always willing to help you grow. 

I was convinced I knew so much back then but I didn’t know that sitting next to you would always be where I felt most at home.  I didn’t know I would still miss you when you went to work even years in. I didn’t know that these kids that helped us form a family would have your smile and your eyes. I didn’t know watching you be a dad would actually make me fall more in love. I didn’t know that some of our most mundane moments would become the most magical. I didn’t know that personal accolades would pale in comparison to what we would accomplish together everyday. I didn’t know that I would learn how to be truly dedicated no matter the circumstance. I didn’t know that I had so much growing up to do on that day ten years ago. They tell you its hard and its true but anything worth having takes hard work.  

We still have a long way to go, still so much to learn, so many more chances to fight and grow and we will. We will fight and cry and laugh some more but today I’m grateful for all the things on the other side of the hard times. All the little things that add up to really big things. Today I’m grateful that in all the things they told us there was so much more they forgot to mention.

  • Lisa Condrey Sheffield - So well written, Tindell! ReplyCancel

  • Anna - Loved!! Shared with all the young marrieds I know!
    32 years in- it only gets better 😉ReplyCancel

“You have so many questions my dear”

I whisper to Claire at bedtime after we spend time talking about if I am the tooth fairy and why we can’t see God. I want to keep answering, I want to keep the door open for all her questions and wonder. I dont think I have to know, I long ago gave up the idea that my kids would see me as a perfect parent. I decided that I’d rather them see me as fully human always needing a good dose of Jesus and self control. I want to answer though, I want to sit with her in all the questions about life and to my very best abilty help her understand. After all this is what parenting dreams are made of, getting to the point where I’m helping my kids grow instead of merely keeping them alive. This is the part I have waited for.

And yet…

I worry. I worry I won’t answer well or that I’ll miss the really important stuff. I let my productivity overrule my compassion and sometimes my answers are short when they should be long. Sometimes I cut you off mid thought about why birds fly in circles or I simply tell you that you’re wrong when you speculate with your brother about the clouds covering the sun. And I know I’ve failed you. I know your questions matter but to be honest sometimes they seem silly. Sometimes I just want to make dinner in peace and sometimes your questions get emotional and my calloused adult heart wants you to toughen up and move on. Sometimes I have to remember how patient my God has been with me, in my own years of questions. 

The easiest way to grow empathy is to have to ask someone else to extend it to you. In those moments when I can see myself in my kids, when I can reflect on the times I wanted to be heard and understood, I can lean in and listen. I was thinking about this the other day because we have been a busy season where every hour has a purpose and to keep the train moving I have to keep moving. Its been a great season but a busy one thanks to this new adventure of school (why do 6 year olds need homework??). Busy always seems to get in the way of having enough time. Busy is rarely conducive for learning. 

Then last week in church our pastor was talking about Lazarus and how when Jesus came on the scene Lazarus had already died and how his two sisters had questions, like where have you been and why didn’t you save him? And their questions were valid and I realized as our pastor read the story how patient Jesus was in their questions. Instead of shutting down questions that were not only unnecessary but that he already knew the answer to he cared enough for them, to listen and answer. Of all the people to be dismissive Jesus would have been the most qualified. He had a true grasp on what was to come and he knew that his own death would be so brutally painful. He also knew Lazarus wasn’t going to stay in the grave. He had every reason to ignore or cast aside the silly and ignorant questions of people. But instead… instead…. He leaned in, he wept alongside friends, and he didn’t brush aside questions he already knew the answer to. If the Son of God who knew plans before they were even thoughts would take the time to care who am I to brush aside real feelings and questions of growing children? 

In that moment sitting in the row I heard the most clear whisper of truth, how patient have I been with you you? Be patient too. 

I want my kids to come to me when life doesn’t make sense, I want them to come to me when they dont understand, when they feel lost, and when they need help. However to be that person, I have to be safe for all their questions, from the ones about ladybugs to the ones about God.

I have been reflecting a lot on big life events and how reality looks pressed up against the expectations I had. What would I have told myself if I could truly prepare for what the future looked like? What tidbits of wisdom and maybe glimmers of hope would I offer myself? Tonight is the night before my oldest birthday. Six years ago tomorrow I headed to the hospital and started the journey of motherhood that reshaped far more than just my body. Today I was thinking about all the emotions I was feeling that night before we welcomed Claire into our world. What would I have told myself? So here it is,

A letter on the night before I became a Mom,

Just breathe. As you pace the halls and double check the nursery, breathe. As you wonder what her eyes will look like and if she will have hair, breathe. As you repack every bag and try to get comfortable for one last night of sleep. Just breathe. I know the fear building in your heart is real, there are so many questions as God does his work in the unseen. I know the unknowns are eating you up, what if the ultrasounds missed something, what if you actually did eat too many double cheeseburgers, and what if you don’t bond? The “what ifs” and wondering has caused many restless nights. You have stayed awake begging God for confirmation that you are doing enough and that she is OK. You can breathe, he once again shows up in ways that leave you breathless.

I know you think you are as prepared as you can be but like any journey you have never walked before you can’t prepare for what you don’t know. It’s ok that you have to learn along the way, everyone does. It’s ok that you have to ask for forgiveness and for grace from the people that love you. Every day brings opportunities to get things right and to make things right again. This isn’t a journey where perfection is within reach, it’s a beautiful clast of imperfect people. It’s the messy mingling of lives that will cause both tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Embrace the jagged edges and don’t try to pin a bow on top of everything, some of your greatest failures will cause the most growth.

Promise me to take it one day at a time, don’t worry about all the things you can’t see. All of the ups and downs will hit whether you stay up thinking about them or not. Deal with problems as they come, don’t anticipate them until they show up. You will have to learn that control isn’t actually in the equation, but prayer is and faith is. When you want to reach for control choose one of those instead.

Tomorrow changes you, its changes Ben, it launches you down a road in life that you don’t feel equipped or worthy enough to walk. It’s the start of your family, the thing that changed your own life the most is now something you are building. It’s a heavy burden, it’s a high calling, and it’s worth every sacrifice you will make. It’s ok that not everyone will understand, you don’t answer to everyone. It’s ok that you will live in a tension of your dreams and reality. It’s ok that you will think it is both magical and also sometimes dull. The hard work you do every day bleeds into every happy memory and when you look back you will see the magic was worth working hard for.

It’s ok that there will be days you feel unseen. It’s ok that you will wrestle with God about where he’s calling you. It’s ok that most days you will simply be asking what the next right thing is. What you are doing is important enough. You’re not just telling your story, tomorrow that little girl starts one as well. Help her tell hers well. She’s going to teach you just as much as you teach her.

Oh and I promise she does eventually sleep and you do leave the house again.

Love,

The sentimental side of you

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I’m sitting here on the eve of my ninth wedding anniversary and trying to remember what I thought it would be like this far into marriage. Someone told me that statistically years 7-9 are the hardest and looking back at the past two years I’d have to agree. New adjustments, new house, another baby, and I wonder if I could have prepared myself for the hard what would I say. We are currently on the blissful upswing but I wonder if I would have listened to my own advice, here’s what I’d say…

Dear me,

I know you thought that this was the hard part. You thought that finding a great man was the real battle. I know you didn’t want to listen when people told you that rocky times lay ahead. Love is like a thick fog you can’t see through and you’re so young but I know you don’t think you are. I won’t try to tell you it will be hard because you wouldn’tbelieve me anyway so I’ll just give you some pointers for the… um… speed bumps that lay ahead.

 

  1. Assume the best, this is hard for you. You have a long history of men not living up to their word. He’s not like the others. He’s good. Solid. Caring. He is patient and loves you well. So when he says something you want to interpret as underhanded, ask instead of assume. Most of the time he has no idea you just filtered his simple comment through the lens of your past and fears. Talk about it, don’t walk around with your panties in a wad… its unattractive.
  2. Have fun, for the love have fun. Life throws you some real curves. Things don’t always go as planned but you can enjoy life as much as you choose to. Ben’s better at this than you, he knows how to laugh. He knows how to take hospital rooms and tense moments and make you smile. He’s good at throwing a good old-fashioned dance party right there in the kitchen. Let your guard down. Laugh more. You will have plenty of time to be serious.
  3. Your kids are amazing but he is too. Now right now you can’t imagine putting anyone before him. The thing is though motherhood is powerful and it turns out you are more maternal than you thought. The babies are wonderful (yea you have a few) but when they leave the house, which is the goal, you two are left standing and you want to be standing side by side holding hands. Also, if ministry teaches you one thing it’s that nothing will affect your kids in a more powerful way than your marriage.
  4. Stop keeping score, right now! From this day forward there will be a silent scorecard in your head and the temptation is to see who does more. He does the dishes, one point. You clean all the bathrooms, five points. You wake up with the kids, 1000 points. He goes to work, 10000. You stay home with kids, not a number high enough. The thing is, you always seem to award yourself more points and in the end, no one wins. Stop keeping score and just support each other. Oh and ask for help when you need it, he can’t read your mind.
  5. Weep together and pray together. I know you hate crying. Actually, you hate all strong emotions except anger. You like control, but weakness and vulnerability are bonding. Lean on him when you get bad news, tell him when you’re sad, and don’t expect him to get it right every time. He’s a really good shoulder.
  6. Saying something that stings hurts both of you. Oh if you could just get this one right if you could hold your tongue from all the hurt that you will spew out when disappointment, loneliness, and frustration happen. If you could just see that your words give life or cause wounds. Those are the only two options. Don’t take it out on him. He deserves more respect than one-liners that sting. Give it to him.
  7. Hormones are crazy. I know you think you understand this now but let me just warn you babies make you think and feel things in a whole new way and the only positive ones seem to be aimed at the baby. Don’t trust estrogen or prolactin or whatever else is coursing through your body in a year or so after you have a baby. It’s a liar, you will get along again. Things will be fine. Power through.
  8. Marriage is as amazing as you hoped it just takes more work than you thought. Even your ordinary life feels extraordinary when you get to walk it with someone you love
  9. You need God, like a lot. At the end of the day you can only control your half of it and thats scary, trust God with the other half. I know you think you could change a cat into a dog if you tried hard enough but you are naïve. Ben is exactly who he needs to be, love him for that, and pray when things are hard. No one will get you like the man standing beside you. Don’t take it for granted. Cheer him on, talk less, and don’t take for granted his belief in you. Its truly astounding all that he puts up with.

Love,

A much more tired version of you

  • Anna Etheriedge - Great! True! Loved it all -from 51 year old- 30 year married to my BFF – looking at a possible empty nest… someday… well maybe… at least during weekdays perhaps :))ReplyCancel

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