Sunday, March 3, 2013

Those Pre-baby Days

This post is pretty long. Sorry 'bout that. I just couldn't find the right place to break it into two sections.

Last week, I read Grace's reflection on whether she would go back to her pre-baby days if she had the chance. It is a beautiful piece which reflects her love for her children, and her love for her vocation.

Romeo and I at my college graduation
I began thinking about my own pre-child days, and whether I was tempted to go back there at all. I will say that Romeo and my courtship was beautiful, holy, and fun. I especially miss the beginning of that long, five-year discernment before he proposed. I remember the innocent romance of it, and I do miss that part. I miss the weekly bouquets of fresh flowers he would bring me from Pike Place Market after his shifts at Le Panier.  I miss our time at Mass together, when we could really focus on the Mass, and while he was really growing in the faith. I remember the feeling of overwhelming gratitude I felt for the Lord when he sent this man to sit by me at Mass when we first met, and--I realized later--how He had answered my prayer for a husband.

But I wouldn't go back to those days. It was a time of transition, a joyous time that is meant to be fleeting.

At our wedding reception, September 2009
When we were three months married, and living in Seattle, we decided that I would apply for graduate school back in my hometown. The job market being terrible, we made the difficult decision to have him begin to apply for jobs there as soon as I knew I was accepted, so that we would have the means to live without taking out student loans for my years in graduate school. What complicated this decision was that I had a job in Seattle, and we had an apartment lease we couldn't get out of...a lease that was to last nine more months!

We thought it would take months for him to find a job in the smallish town to which we'd be moving. But two weeks later, not able to refuse an offer--one he may not have the chance to receive again--he was packing up as much as he could in his little car and driving through the December snows to start his new job in our new town. We faced nine months of living apart as newlyweds.

Making cornmeal blintzes for my Blue Christmas party.
Such a nerd.
I held myself a little Christmas party, which I named "The Blue Christmas Party," because of my utter sadness at having to spend the Christmas season alone, without my new husband. I even hauled a tree up to my upstairs apartment all by myself because I was determined for it to be fun, despite my missing half. My friends were very good to me, and they all came to the party with copious amounts of champagne.

On the other hand, those nine months are what I consider my pre-baby days because I was free to do anything I wanted: I could go out with friends, I could keep my own schedule, I didn't have to worry about Romeo using my towel (one of my biggest pet peeves!). But I was still married, madly in love, with all the comforts of that in my heart. I was a newlywed-single. And I did a lot of things for myself.

On our actual honeymoon
I tried new recipes, I started a pilates regimen, I was in the best shape of my life, I taught a confirmation class at my parish, I drew very close to my good friends--they were the kind of friendships I haven't been able to cultivate since. I miss those friendships terribly. And when Romeo and I saw each other every six to eight weeks, we felt like we were on our honeymoon again.

But I wouldn't go back to those days either; for all the fun I had on the outside, I was so lonely without my husband, and I could barely stand going to Mass without him. I did, of course, because it was then that I needed Jesus to be my true spouse the most. Many nights I cried myself to sleep because I longed for my husband.

Then, on one of my trips to see Romeo, we became pregnant with Little A. We still had six months of separation to go. It was decided that I would stay in Seattle, regardless of pregnancy, because I couldn't get on Romeo's health insurance until the baby was born, and I had excellent medical care through my job. I was beyond excited to be pregnant, even though it meant I'd be starting graduate school at 26 weeks, and giving birth over Thanksgiving break, but I was devastated that I wouldn't share the everyday ins and outs of pregnancy with my husband. When I would come home to visit, my bump showing a little more each time, he would gasp, "It's really real!"

Once again, my friends were so good to me; they paid me much attention, and held a baby shower, and listened to my hormonal fits, and rejoiced over Little A's first movements in the womb. They helped me steer clear of unpasteurized cheese and ordered me mock-tails when we went out for St. Patrick's day. They didn't even give me any crap when I fell asleep at my good friend's bachelorette 10:00 pm.

But I wouldn't go back to those days because, while they were fun, and we did the best we could, it was somewhat out of order, not having my husband there with me during pregnancy. God sent me so many saints during that time, by unexpected means, from the Costco delivery man where I worked (a strong Catholic man with seven children, whose wife invited me to their home for Easter dinner), to my supervisor at Blessed Sacrament parish, where I taught confirmation class, and all the people in between who reflected excitement about my pregnancy and helped me to keep my chin up through my husband's absence. Nonetheless, I wouldn't  go back there now.

Me and Little A at her baptism
But here's the thing: it isn't wholly the presence of Little A in my life which keeps me from going back there. Of course, she is pure Joy, toddler tantrums and potty training notwithstanding, and I would never wish she was not here. Of course she is much of the reason I would never go back to those days. But the fundamental reason is that God has brought me to this point on my journey, with all the accompanying circumstances, intentionally. He has done so with purpose, and He has borne fruit through each of these seasons of my life. It is with complete awe that I think of how time is fleeting for us, but not for Him. We sometimes wish we could go back to the days when this or that was happening, or sometimes forward to when this or that will be happening, or when we will know/understand such and such. But for God, it's all the same time. Our days are numbered in his book which stands outside of time, and it is for that reason that we must move forward always, and move forward in Hope.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

As tempting as it sometimes is to wish ourselves out of our time and place, the Lord's way has purposely put me here. You can bet that when RG died, and I was in the throes of that whole mess, I wished it wasn't happening to me. I wished it was a year from now, so that I wouldn't have to live every moment of that grief. I wished I was anywhere but there. And some days I miss my Seattle friendships so badly that I wish I could just--poof!--be back there. And, and, and, and. But I am here. I can't go anywhere but here. And that's as it should be. Otherwise I deny the Lord his chance to bear fruit through me in this time and in this place, giving my fiat to Him in every moment.


  1. What a beautiful reflection! It is so true we sometimes think about yesterday and tomorrow too much instead of today which is right in front of us. My DH and I were in Seattle in Nov. it is such a beautiful place! We love the NorthWest and hope to go back someday!

  2. Great reflection! I enjoyed reading Grace's and I really like your take on it as well.

  3. Well said! I love this reflection. You are so right--there is a purpose for each and every stage in our lives, and we are meant to be exactly where we are. :)

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