Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Me.

If I knew three years ago what I was getting myself into, would I still have married Andrew and become pregnant right away? The short answer is "yes". But the long answer follows below...

Dear Kristi of 4 years ago,

You are about to go through four of the craziest years of your life. Right now you have a feeling that something "big" is going to happen in your life soon, but, believe me-the future you- you have NO concept of how BIG it will be. You're about to meet the man of your dreams, become engaged, married, pregnant, a mommy, pregnant again, and a mommy again... and that's all before 2009. Doesn't it sound exciting? I promise that it will be. But I'm writing to you to tell you that you only have about 15 months of being unmarried left, and you need to take full advantage of it.

Right now you have a vague concept of what marriage will be like. You envision the joy and comfort of having a husband. You think that being a mommy will be awesome. You get goosebumps thinking about how someday all of that might happen to you. But even in the midst of your daydreaming, you MUST take advantage of these last few months of singlehood. I'm going to share with you the things that you don't realize come along with marriage and parenthood. They aren't bad things... but they're much bigger things than you've before considered.

Most importantly, you need to know that life will never again be about only you. You probably don't feel like it is right now, but it is more than it will ever be again. In the first month of your marriage, it will be about your spouse AND you, then it will be about your in-utero baby, your spouse and you, and eventually it will be about your kids, your spouse and you. But never ever again just "you".

Right now you can volunteer for whatever you want... and you can also stop volunteering. You can work whatever job you want... and you can also stop working certain jobs. You can pray whenever you want... go out with your friends whenever you want... relocate whenever you want... shop whenever you want... eat whenever you want... travel whenever you want. You can spend as much or as little time as you want with friends and family. In fact you can do and stop doing almost everything you're involved in right now based on how you alone feel and what you alone need. You are, for the most part, 100% in charge of what you do. You're never going to have that freedom again... and it's not a bad thing... but it is a reality that you don't see right now. Your husband and your children will soon take priority over everything else in your life (other than God... but even your relationship with Him will struggle as you learn to adjust to your new life.)

I'm not telling you this to scare you or worry you. I'm only telling you this because I want you to take full advantage of your last few months of having only YOU to focus on. And the reason I'm writing this to you now is because of what happened to me (the future you) a few nights ago. I had a veritable Mommy-breakdown over dinner. Your oldest kiddo was done with dinner and needed to be cleaned up... your youngest kiddo insisted upon being held and nursed... and your husband had been at work all day so it didn't feel completely right asking for his help. All you really wanted to do was finish your own dinner, but after 20 minutes of attempting that, you just about gave up. You got frustrated with your husband, angry at your oldest, and took your youngest to have a diaper change. In the midst of it all you yelled a bit, cried a bit, and wished just a little bit that life was as simple as it had been 4 years ago.

It was at that point that I realized something more deeply than I had ever realized it before. I no longer had the choice to do or not do something based on my own feelings. My kids and my husband counted on me for certain things... and I was unable to say "no" even if I really wanted to. The option of being selfish no longer existed. The big stuff: I can't refuse a diaper change, or feeding my family, or going to work so someday we can afford a house. And the little stuff: I can't skip dinner, or go out with my friends on a whim, or lock myself in my room for a few moments of quiet. Nearly everything I do now has a direct effect on the well-being of my family... and my actions profoundly affect those around me more than they ever did when I was single. And I finally realized that I never thought about all of that stuff when I was where you are now.

But I would be remiss if in this letter I only told you about the harder things you're going to encounter. Because the next 4 years of your life are also going to be filled with more profound joy than you've ever experienced. Your wedding will be like a taste of the heavenly banquet. You'll feel so accomplished and empowered when you give birth to your beautiful children. You'll swell with pride as you watch them take their first steps, learn their first words, and become smarter and smarter each day. You'll thank God every moment for a husband who is so supportive and handsome and silly that he can even make you laugh in the midst of your tears. You'll feel blessed in ways you've never experienced and you won't regret one minute of choosing marriage as your vocation because you'll know it's where you're supposed to be.

So, Kristi of the past, I don't want you to fret or fear the changes to come, but I hope you take full advantage of the place you are in right now. Be happy... go out and have fun... and take a few moments just for you! Come May 6, 2006, your life will change forever.

Love you lots,