Author: Jenna Anderson | @mrsjenna_anderson
I remember those days. My heart ached to bear the title wife and mom though the horizon of gentlemen and hopes of children seemed bleak. I ate alone in restaurants with books and journals wearing the badge of independence with as much hope and grace as I could. Unconcerned about the kind smiles of sympathy I sometimes received, I treated myself to my favorite foods knowing someday there would be another voice with tastes of his own.
These days, restaurants look a whole lot different. Selected for their speed, tolerance for bouncy toddlers, and enticing-quickly-delivered finger foods, we are in and out in a flurry. My husband and I inhale our food in hopes we can wolf it down in time to feed the tiny humans. Conversations are short and the smiles we get now are a mix of enamored appreciation for our cuties and patience repeatedly tested.
Sleep. Oh my friends, sleep. In my single days I slept. I slept in most weekends, embraced rest with chips and salsa in hand as I snacked my way into a nap or two whenever it struck me. My mind was clear as ever as I worked multiple jobs diving into the hustle with energy and enthusiasm. I can vaguely remember the feeling of waking up on my accord, rested. I got as much as sleep as I wanted. As my night owl tendencies surfaced, I didn’t fear as morning was met with a chance to catch up and soak in the serene reality of lying in bed to slowly take in the morning glow.
I remember sleep. Night owl or not my darling babies are undeniably morning birds. Before the sun rises I am met with their shenanigans full of laughing, climbing into each other’s cribs, and making mischief before my eyes are pried open. Each day this sleepy owl is jolted out of bed to meet the variety of needs found in the quaint little nursery full the little humans I love so much. I have discovered potions for disguising dark circles and pretend that mascara and a freshly poured chai are enough to make this mama sharp and at the ready. Doubtful I am fooling anyone. When asked how I am, I find myself confessing , “Very, very happy and very, very tired I am.”
When I was flying solo through life, time truly was my own. If a sunny day hit and I wanted to float the river or read in the sun, I did it. I hung out with friends, watched movies uninterrupted, and attended concerts on a whim. Days rolled on by with work and play in decent balance and friendships invested along the way. Frankly, I did what I wanted.
Now time is allotted around the fine tune ability to anticipate the need for naps or snacks or diaper changes. Freedom to explore or embrace spontaneity replaced with a need for routine. Strolls to the park happen over hikes on river trails. I connect with friends in the middle of exuberant play-dates and try to finish a conversation before a little one needs me. Time is not my own.
Singleness for me was also met with a deep sense of the nearness of Jesus. His voice so clear. His purpose for me defined and exciting. On long, quiet walks I would pour out my heart and dream and hope and connect with Him. I would study my bible with a hunger to understand. I took time to chase down answers and ideas that set my heart and mind even more enamored with Him. For so many years it was just Jesus and I. Sacred moments were more than I could count and He had my heart undivided.
Now, Sesame Street echoes on in the background as I dig into the Word with disjointed focus. Small hands grab the delicate pages that once didn’t need protecting. My desperate prayers now journaled in hopes that my heart can once again articulate the love and need I for Jesus. It is a battle somedays to find Him. I know He’s close if I can lean in and listen above it all. Now it is Jesus and I and this growing, beautiful family He’s given me. Overwhelmed with gratitude I still sometimes find myself longing for the simple days where I could whisper a prayer and hear Him without distraction.
I unfold for you this vast contrast of life to remind us all of one thing. Seasons come and seasons change. And we all sigh an, “amen.” It is easy for me to feel the stark differences from most of my adult life to the whirlwind of goodness I have experienced in the last five years. My life looks a lot different now. Single until I was 34, now I am married and have had two children as we close in on our 4th anniversary. As I simmered on this idea of stewardship the thing that pricked my heart was the potential to lean in and savor every single season. Yes, they come and go. What if you and I had the ability to mine out and truly appreciate the unique and often fleeting beauty of each season we find ourselves in? Instead of wishing it away or giving into discouragement that things aren’t changing, what if we simply leaned in.
With eyes to see the good, hard, and overlooked beauty, how can we better tend to our seasons? It starts with being willing to consider the season we’re and invite Jesus into the conversation. Ask Him to see what He sees. Consider your past, present, and future seasons. Pause to consider what you might miss, what’s actually surprisingly sweet now, and what you can’t wait to experience later. Look back with hindsight. Look at today with gratitude. Look forward with faith and hope.
Surveying my seasons, here’s what I’ve got.
Yes, those solo restaurant days were full of good food and time to think and breathe. But now, I get to introduce my children to my favorite food, get to sit while it’s prepared, and I don’t have to clean up after anyone.
Where there once was sleep I now have LIFE. Giggling, wiggly life found in the gift of two little girlies. While sleep is nice, babies don’t keep. I get to snuggle and share bananas and include them in messy mornings full of life. I am hopeful someday I’ll feel rested again. But until then, this sleepy mama is going to lean in with all of my heart and embrace the memories and moments I get with my sweet family.
These days, time flies. While time might not be my own it’s now marked with simple milestones of smiles and waves and wonky first steps. Freedom to do as I please is gone but I AM free to take in this season with a full heart of absolute wonder. I get to let simple days spent building towers and painting butterflies be just as sweet as spontaneous adventures I once had.
Finding Jesus looks different these days. But above the chaos, I hear His voice whisper that those sacred days were meant to carry me today. He is near. I see Him in the joy on my girls’ faces and in the wins and losses of parenting. I understand now with great humility the overwhelming love of a parent toward their child and husband towards his bride. His love is deeper and messier and more present than I have ever known.
I suspect no matter what season you find yourself in, there are hidden gems to discover. Consider the changes you’ve walked through and journal out the beauty there. Reflect with thankfulness on what you once had and steward with attentiveness the very season you’re in right now. It might feel awful and stuffy and all you want is out. Look for the good things. Find a simple thing to be grateful for. If you find yourself soaring with all of your dreams come true, steward that one too. Journal your victories and lean into your joys with wholeheartedness. Seasons come and go. If we can learn to lean in and savor what we’ve got, we’ll find lives brimming with peace and contentment. Embracing seasons will leave us with clear eyes to see the beauty in unexpected places. It’s worth it, lean in.