Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Messy, Beautiful Life

Two years and three months ago, I sat on a toilet seat at 6 in the morning and sobbed and sobbed.  In my hands I held a positive pregnancy test.  To say I was devastated would not begin to describe how I felt.

Just six months before this day, I had my mom and husband drag me through a grueling boot camp of resume & interview tweaking. I wanted my dream job at a high school closer to home, and as luck and a lot of arguing over strong verbs would have it, I snagged that job.

* I realize resume is spelled incorrectly. I'm Chromebook dumb. My apologies. And now it's misspelled twice. 

And so there I sat, only a couple months into my dream job... with a baby inside of me but so far from the plan, I cannot even tell you. I didn't know how to connect those dots between reality and "the plan".

Oh, but it wasn't one baby. It was two.  

:  :  :  :  :

Enjoy the myriad of clothing options at the Anderson home: a.) just bottoms  b.) outfit not actually snapped up & b.) just tops

Those of you reading this who know me well enough and can predict I'm going to spin this in some dreamy fluff cloud of life direction, well... I understand.

I hesitate to tell you the punch line. This one: I am so glad God has other plans for me.

I hesitate to tell you that because there are the cynics:  Ashley, don't act like your accidental babies and dropping out of the workforce is a positive thing! Your career is fading daily!   I get all of that. I really, really do.  I was that voice. In fact, I'm still that voice. My voice says things like "avoid risk!" , "stay in the lines", and "retreat, retreat, retreat!".

And really, three babies does not equal a stay-at-home-mom. Far from it. But that's for some other day...

I'm not throwing caution to the wind in saying simply that babies, well, they make a way.

What I am saying is that I desperately love how my little family has made such a mess of my life.

I mean, Paul alone. Let's go there.  He sees my ugliness. Oh, how he knows me.  He knows my faults and could probably make a list from a-z.  I know his too.  And we're different: he says go & I say pause; he says more & I say less; he says "party" & I say "read".  Our differences are good, but we always have to commit ourselves to balancing, respecting, listening.  Our love is not easy, breezy, walk on the beach love. I want to run from that intimacy sometimes.  Other times, I lay in bed and think that this love is my daily bread. It is the one thing I need the most: to be seen, to be contrasted, to be challenged, to be cared for.

And then my three wonderfully accidental babies. A literal mess to start with.  Just as an experiment, let me tell you what is within a three foot radius of my computer: counting bears, a plastic ring that says "HOT", a peanut butter jar Thomas helped himself to, a tiny sword, our reading lesson book, some Spongebob hat the twins were playing with... and you know what, we don't have all day for this.

Oh, Thomas.  The mess you've made out of me.  My pride. My anger. My need for control.  And so many damn tears.  Because you have your will and I have mine and I'm pretty sure that will pain me until I leave this earth.  But like a small plant of thorns in contrast to some vast ocean, there's my love for you.  That sting of seeing all my faults and selfishness either reflected, felt, or jutting out at you...I think it might all be worth it because just like that day they laid you in my arms... one more soul to love here on this earth.

And Alistair and Emerick.  It's true. In a way, you were part of really, um, switching up the plan.  But daily--Wow! The magic and joy I see in you two.  It is absolutely incredible. The companionship you two experience. The playfulness you enjoy with Thomas.  The learning that I see unfold every single day.  I would take all the messes in the world to have you as my own.  (Which is good since that's how it feels some days!)

I wish I could go back to that day I sobbed on the toilet and show that woman a video of you two laughing as you chase after each other.  Oh, how she would have laughed...before going right back to sobbing on the toilet because: white-knuckle lack of trust issues, I got a few.

See, if it was up to me, I don't think I would be here.  No, I know I would not be here.  I like quiet.  I like to be by myself.  I like things to be untarnished and accounted for and listed and neat and tidy.  My life with my just the opposite.

A life with less would be easier, but it wouldn't be as good.

A life with less of these people and these messes would allow more freedom, but maybe not the fulfillment I have come to know. 

I'm glad that I've woken up to right here, right now and find myself with 1, 2, 3, 4! people that make noise in this home with me.  I'm not always comfortable with the interruptions, the sacrifices, the changes, and the mess, but I see now that comfort is not what my soul longs for.  It longs for being content and grateful with the mess: there are people and possessions and mountains of graces here and I'm so very happy about that!

There's a wild cacophony of color in my life, something opposite of my always pined-for blank slate. Hallelujah for that!

As I think about another new year, I look forward to more unexpected things: messy and beautiful, uncomfortable and challenging, and very good because they're ridiculously bigger than my tiny, tidied up ideas.


  1. This was a powerful post and really spoke to my heart ... Thank you for sharing it.

    1. That makes me happy to hear. My thoughts on being open to life are so difficult to untangle and even more difficult to lay bare because there's so much criticism on all sides. All things said, I would have ten more if I could. ;)