“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”
This quote looks me in the face daily as I get dressed. This dish was a gift from my husband, Matt, as I unexpectedly became a stay-at-home mom to now three little boys, while he was working around the clock as a Sports Medicine Fellow.
I wouldn’t have planned to have a baby that year.
Things were totally up in the air for our family. Matt was interviewing for his first job after the years-long road of medical training. He was working a lot covering sports events on top of his normal clinic hours and other duties. I wasn’t sure we could handle another thing on the list. I wasn’t sure I could handle feeding three, bathing three, putting three to bed alone. Longs days bled into long nights, but there was always that reminder as I wandered into the bathroom (usually with some company):
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
I grew to embrace it. To believe it. It wasn’t always pretty, but we survived that year. We actually had a phenomenal year full of lots of teamwork and a fair amount of family fun as we got to know the third little wonder that God had chosen for us.
Fast forward a couple of years, and all the feelings washed over me again as I sat and had a conversation with someone that I don’t know that well at all.
She was expecting her second baby…her second baby in less than a year and a half, actually, and she was obviously a little shaken by the news. A well-meaning person attempted to encourage her by telling her it’s better to have your children close together and that kids need siblings anyway.
How many times are we given these lovely tidbits of advice? “Your kids should be two years apart.” “No, make it three.” “No, wait until one is in kindergarten so you’re not stretched so thin.” “Only children get all of your attention and have better outcomes.” “Not giving a child a sibling is a guarantee for raising a narcissist.” A lot of people have ideas for how your family should look, but guess what Mama?
This is YOUR incredibly surprising, hard-fought, beautiful family. It’s your story to tell and watch unfold.
We all think we know what we want our family to look like, and almost none of us end up with that picture in the end. Thank goodness! Maybe you thought you would have five children, and it turns out that you have given all that you can to have one splendidly beautiful baby. What a gift and what a lucky baby to get all of that love from you. Maybe you only wanted one child, but a little extra romance brought you another one…or two…or three. Maybe you find yourself considering adoption and your family growing in a way that you never planned.
That’s the amazing thing about motherhood, right? There are surprises every single step of the way.
You make your plans and you quickly realize that nothing goes according to plans, but this is your family.
I’m not saying that you’re not entitled to grieve infertility or panic at the surprise of a positive pregnancy test. You have to process those things and work through all those very real feelings. But I am saying that sometimes we have to let go of all of the noise from external sources that tell us what the perfect family looks like. Even more so, sometimes we have to let go of our own expectations about what our perfect family will look like and embrace what we have.
Life is surprising, and your family is your own personal miracle. YOUR story. YOUR adventure.
You have the heart needed to care for these angels before you. You have the strength to get through the trying moments. You really do have a beautiful, perfectly imperfect family.
And after all – life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.