then and now

Three years ago.

Three years ago, I lived in a sweet family-centric, suburban neighborhood . . .  in a large, lovely home that I filled with peonies from my garden, and homemade baked goods, and frames upon frames of engagement photos and wedding photos and travel photos, all which portrayed a young, happy family.

And I was expecting Charlie. I had just passed into my third trimester. And I couldn’t wait to be a mother . . . I wanted nothing more in life.

I spent my time researching baby items and natural child birth plans and the perfect blue paint for the nursery. I googled endlessly for tips on how to manage nausea (which never stopped for me) and breast feeding (at which, we failed miserably) and how to cloth diaper (too overwhelming, I never attempted it).

And, three years ago, I was also, of course, a wife. A good one. In my opinion. I was loving and supportive. (Albeit, sadly, naive.)

Truly, everything should have been great. On paper, it looked like we had it all.

And yet, despite all the pretty things and happy ideas I surrounded ourselves with, my husband’s unhappiness and indifference toward me was palpable. And everyday it became harder and harder for me to reconcile why such a “blessed” life, really was pretty miserable under the surface.

And I started panicking. Was it me? Was I not smart enough? Successful enough? Pretty enough? Nice enough? Funny enough? Would I not be a good enough mother? What was so wrong with me that the father of my unborn child didn’t even want me?

And those questions ate me alive.

Next to my sweet Charlie who I had yet to meet, I was carrying around a lot of darkness, too.

None of it made sense. And it all felt unbearable.

It was.

I couldn’t carry it all.

We all know the story from here. At 32 weeks, Charlie arrived.

He arrived feisty and loud and at exactly the right time.

In the months that followed, life turned upside-down. It was still, at times, unbearable. But at least then, I could lay the weight of my baby down next to me during those moments when it became impossible to carry everything all at once.

It was during this time, I learned firsthand the things I already knew deep down to be true.

Now, three years later . . . I live in a cozy townhouse not far from my own childhood home. It’s filled with toy cars and early Sunday morning dance parties and a never-ending mountain of dirty sippy cups in the kitchen sink. It doesn’t look like a happy family is living here . . . you can feel a happy family is living here.

To think, if you put this life now on paper next to my former one . . . how many people would chose it? (It’s okay. I wouldn’t have upon first glance, either.)  And yet, I’ve ended up with so much more than I could have ever asked for. I have never felt happier or more free or more myself than in these past few years.

Most importantly, I no longer have to wonder if I’m enough. All I have to do is look at my Charlie. And I am reminded that I am actually everything.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. – Mary Oliver

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