It seems the world revolves around joy and pain, in equal measures. From the beginning of life, until the end, all the in-betweens, the growing pains as I refer to them…….every little bit hurts. Take for instance the day you make your way into this world, THAT day will be remembered not for the undeniable pain that your mother experienced, but instead the explicit joy she felt the moment you were placed in her arms. Isn’t it amazing, how hours or days of excruciating pain can be erased by a single moment of indescribable joy? Human beings, creatures of survival, makers of our own destiny, we are resilient. It seems that you have two different ways to think of joy and pain, happiness and sadness, the good and the bad…….you can dwell upon the sad, goodness knows before your time is through you will have felt that emotion many times over……or you can look at those sad moments, and remember the great moments, how they are worth all the pain/sacrifice/loss…..because in that moment of joy it is worth every tear………joy is worth it, even if every bit hurts…this is why they call it growing pains. Each loss you are dealt is replaced by some wondrous event that will make up for that pain……even when it does not feel like the world will continue…..it does!
From the moment you open your eyes to the world, a lifetime of heartache awaits you……there is no denying that, no changing that, no altering that reality. However, you can anticipate the greatest ecstasy when you least expect it, miracles that you cannot explain, and times of sheer bliss…….You can be anything you want to be. The true moment that defines you is one of these 1) Be the one that harbors bitterness that eats away at you until you are miserable or 2) Pull through the tough times and await the blessing on the other side. I choose number 2, although that has not always been the case where my heart and logic agree. There was a time that number 1, was my go to, my way of thinking. My oh pitiful me, mentality…….and oh did it ever make me miserable.
I wallowed in it, sank deep into it, cried out until I was utterly deaf……it got me nothing, not one single, good thing came from it! Until one day I opened my eyes, I thought today, this day, I count my blessings rather than my mishaps, this day I just be grateful. So, it began, and I was amazed how many things I could be grateful for! My list began simple enough…….Grateful for waking up this morning…….but as the day passed, every tiny thing seemed more than I deserved. Thank you, Lord, for this sunny day….food on my table, never going hungry, a husband who loves and provides for me, a roof over my head, water to drink, and on and on my list continued. I was humbled……humbled in a way that one can only be humbled when they have reached the bottom of the pity barrel of what life has dealt them and decided to crawl out of…….SURE, I could dwell on the fact that I didn’t have kids, but truth is I spent 7 years doing that, or I could talk about how life is hard, because it certainly is, perhaps I could think on how many people that I love that didn’t show appreciation for the things that I attribute to their life……but all of that started to lose it’s appeal. I had spent enough time wishing, hoping, praying, screaming, hating, and wishing for something more……..I did all of that until the day, God told me, “Be quiet and be still!” For the first time in my adult life, I obeyed. As I sat in my office tears rolling down my face as every single blessing I had been given was brought forefront to my mind, I recognized how ungrateful I had been. I began to grow, and I am here to tell you, growing pains hurt, every little bit hurts, but it is necessity.
I stopped chasing pipe dreams, I didn’t lower my expectations but instead believed that I am not the maker of my destiny. I began getting up and remembering the small things we take for granted, and how precious they are. Do you have a spouse that loves you? Cherish that because somewhere, someone is sleeping alone. Do you have a mother? Treasure that because not everyone still has that luxury. Do you have a sibling? Call them up, they are irreplaceable! Every thing you think in your mind is a struggle, you are wrong…some where under this same moon someone is sleeping outside with an empty belly and a barren heart. At this very second someone is losing someone they love beyond the definition of words……and yet you sit smuggly by and cry about something that at the end of the day really matters not. I tell you all of this to tell you this; growing up hurts, from the moment you are born you are meant to leave the safe hold of you mother’s arms……it hurts. From the time your sibling is born into this world, they are meant to part ways from you and make a life for themselves……..and that hurts….Oh, how I lavish in the memories of my mom, my sister, my dad all snug under one roof….I cannot rewind time and make this so, but I can give this to my children by all means possible for as long as I can do so. I look back at life as a child, how the memory of my youthful mom fills every moment that mattered…..Gosh, how it must have hurt to watch me grow, defy her even if I didnt mean to, take up wings and fly as far as they would take me……..far, far away from her. I view this differently now, a mother to children of my own. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my girls were being born???????????? Where did 8 years go? Then 6???? I cry every birthday but I have a whole new appreciation for what my mother did! She gave me a safe home, a home cooked meal, a tidy house, and most importantly a sister, a life long friend! You will never know fully the depths of your love for your parents usually until it is far too late. My love for my mom, goes beyond the depths of reason, it cannot be measured by ounces or pounds because it is infinite. As sure as I sit here and type these words, there is no place I would rather be than an old back road with an old 70s song playing just being me with my mom. All my best and most cherished memories begin with her.
When I became a sister, oh the joy that it brought. This little porcelain beauty was my own personal baby doll……..seven years dividing us, you would think we wouldn’t be close……you would be wrong. Let my sister call me in the middle of the night with some minuscule problem; I will be there. Just as I was 24 years ago when she wanted to play barbies or dolls and I was much too old for it. She kept me from aging, she gave me youth, and for that there are no replacements. She is the one and ONLY to my end all be all, my catch me when I fall, my love me no matter what, my secret keeper, dream weaver, crawl into my bed late at night with her teddy because together we are safe. I can say that without question she is the ying to my yang, and although we are different, our hearts are the same. We share pain and joy equally, I often wonder if we were meant to be twins. I literally feel her hurt, her joys, her accomplishments, her buried insecurities as if they were my own. Sure, I would go back, to one more day of silly nothingness, days of just being kids, I would squeeze those perfect little cheeks and have a little more patience for her, and my mother who needed me to stay little just a little bit longer…….but every bit hurts.
As a child, if you are lucky, you make a friend in school. Someone who changes your very existence. Fills a void you didn’t know you had and if you are really blessed they stay with you. I met that person, her name is Jean, my youngest daughter is named after her just as my oldest is named after myself, my sister and my mother. I have learned that friendship may be the hardest of all to maintain. You grow up, if you are unlucky you deal with infertility, as we both did which pulls you together, if you are lucky you have a child/children that leaves no time for you to be together…….either way, you are blessed. I like to think that this friendship, will never waiver, but it has. There have been months that we haven’t spoken, years when I don’t know her day to day……….and every little bit hurts. At the end of the day, I know that when it matters we are there for each other, forever, for always, and life is hectic. Our friendship is as old as time, and although it has altered, it is still invincible. I think back on days of skating, and overnights that we clung to one another because then that is all we had. I think of the days we called each other to tell one another about some small thing that we experienced……I miss those days, yes, but priorities change and I understand that too……But nothing will express the love I have for this family, this second family that embraced and took me in as their own. At the end of the day, I have a rare friendship that I thank God for everyday, even on the days when every little growing pain hurts.
You grow, and after finding yourself through infertility and losses, to your dreams coming true……you need someone to share it with, someone facing the same things as you are, no sleep, exhaustion, relentless chores, raising a baby that has consumed your entire world and you feel selfish to think you deserve this life…….A life full of diapers, bottles, no rest, just surviving. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of the very blessings you prayed for….as you are trying to remember every little bit hurts………then suddenly there is this human that just stops you in your tracks, reminds you your purpose, your reason, just gets you as the person you are today! I can never thank her enough, she was there just when I needed her the very most, her name is Marisa, and she is one of the greatest gifts my family has ever received. She takes in your children, when you are struggling to breathe, she loves them, she loves you, she feeds you and in return……..well you do the same……..before you know it you can take a breath without thinking, her family becomes yours and life resumes some semblance of normalcy…….but just as life would have it, every little bit hurts………because unbeknownst to you, this again, this companionship, this just be yourself will also be stripped away so you can continue to grow……..and oh how EVERY bit hurts! Talking, sharing, just being together with our silliness, laughing over nonsense somehow what brought once joy, now it hurts. It hurts in deep places that I don’t share, it breaks me but it also makes me! As I move away from that comfort that I had not known for many years……let me tell you every little bit hurts. I miss her, the way she just knew what made me laugh……..I have a blog all her own but cannot bring myself to write it because every little bit hurts.
I move on from my graves county family, much like when I ventured away from my childhood home leaving behind my mom and sister, it breaks a piece of you. All the security of having my support group nearby, stripped away, it is scary. I drive away from the home where my own little family was began. I won’t lie, it hurts, it stings, but even as that chapter closes, even as a new chapter unfolds, every little bit hurts. I call it growing pains. Yet, as I pull into my new driveway, complete with black shutters that appear to wink at me as if to say, “Let the adventures begin, there are memories here, that are yet to be made.” I smile to myself, and I know that each time we grow the pain is intense, but the joy to follow is always worth the journey. For without the struggles, the losses, the hurt, how would we ever know sheer joy? With loss comes gratitude, humbleness, and you realize to give thanks for every blessing you are given, and focus less on what you have left behind. I walk into my new, pristine home, I breathe it all in, I let the moment take me, I smile as warm tears slide down my cheeks….in this instance, as I say good-bye to part of my history, I know my future has so much in store, and it is all worthwhile, even when every little bit hurts……I am growing, transforming, becoming a new version of myself, and I utter a silent thank you to the heavens, for the endings, and new beginnings. Even when every little bit hurts, the joy that is coming will be worth every ounce of sadness, so bring on the pain because joy awaits just beyond the horizon!