Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had a great insight come upon me. It's something I know but I suddenly had a moment to really feel it.
I took the kids to our local YMCA to play in the outdoor splash pad and wading pool. We had been eager to try it out and it opened this past weekend. We got there right when it opened so I was able to pick the lounge chair I wanted without issue (later in the day, all chairs were taken and members had to lay towels on the concrete to claim a spot).
Zach and Teagan had run off to check out the spray features and then over to the wading pool (which also has fountains and spray things). At times, I would look up from my book to check on them and would see them holding hands in the water or smile as the army crawled in the wade pool.
The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, there were a few fluffy white clouds above. My kids were playing and happy, my husband had opted to skip the Y in favor of doing yard work, I had a book in hand. Life was good.
I stared up at one of the fluffy white clouds and thought about times when I've played with my kids and we have searched for shapes in those clouds (go check that link- it's from 3 years ago so the kids are all adorable and stuff).
It suddenly hit me that I had the family I've always wanted. Suddenly I realized that I had achieved, for that moment, what most every parent wants to experience- providing a better life for their own kids.
I grew up a poor kid in Kentucky. I grew up knowing hunger, knowing about the kindness of extended family, and knowing what struggle meant. I grew up an abused kid. My childhood holds far more painful memories than happy ones.
Now I am a mom and wife. Now I am providing a childhood for 2 precious little people. And it's already a vastly different and improved experience than I had growing up.
My kids have been able to participate in activities like dance class, gymnastics, soccer, and basketball. Teagan is about to dedicate a year to cheerleading. Zach may have some interest in something pop up in the coming year.
My kids can attend birthday parties and no one worries about affording a gift for the birthday kid.
My kids have been blessed with hand me downs over the years. We are also able to walk into Target or Old Navy when a need arises and buy whatever is needed. And we can splurge on the character shirts or fancier shoes.
My kids haven't known hunger or the stress of wondering what there is to eat. We have never been without food. They might get bored with what's available but they've never known true hunger.
My kids are safe.
My kids have pets. Even though it can be painful, the joy and love of caring for a pet is an incredible gift to our family.
My kids live in a house that we bought with the intent that this is where our roots will grow and our family will flourish. We don't intend to be a family that moves around, we don't live in the more temporary type housing that an apartment offers.
We have a long road ahead of us. But I plan to sit back and enjoy some sense of accomplishment, to allow myself to be flooded with these blessings, to reflect on the difference between the childhoods of my children and the childhoods that Jeff and I had. Getting to this point doesn't mean we will never encounter problems. Doesn't mean there isn't the potential for pain in the future. Doesn't mean life won't change and things won't get turned upside down.
But for now, I am going to continue to lay back, watch the clouds, listen to my kids laughing together, and simply breathe.