Before one of our early moves, Stephen and I solved the problem of excessive pre-marriage memorabilia by buying two large Rubbermaid bins. We each got one box to fill up; whatever didn’t fit in the box had to be thrown away. (Somehow, Stephen’s baseball card collection got an exemption. But I can’t talk because my American Girl collection is still at my mom’s. Anyway…)
In his recent garage-cleaning project, our memory boxes were unearthed, and we decided to go through them again before moving them up to long-term storage in the attic. I made it through the first layer of mine yesterday afternoon while Abby and I were in the garage/front yard soaking up some much-appreciated January sunshine.
Here’s what was in the box: folders full of college papers, including many “philosophy of teaching” essays. A book of poetry that I wrote in high school and college, including an ode to my fake engagement ring and at least three poems about wanting to be a mother. A folder labeled “The Clif Files,” at least 100 pages of printed emails that I wrote to my favorite confidante narrating the details of my relationship with my college boyfriend. Birthday cards and notes from grandparents who are no longer living. Several small photo albums (almost all scary. Abbey, you can be thankful I”m not scanning and posting the pictures from our trip to Nashville!). A “must have/can’t stand” list of attributes for my future husband. A t-shirt that I made, proclaiming “The World Is My Man Zoo” (don’t ask).
As I flipped through these treasures, I remembered how much time I spent in college dreaming of my wedding, marriage, and motherhood. My most frequently viewed website was theknot.com. My favorite country songs were the ones where men confessed how much they wanted to get married and have babies. My roommate and I whiled away hours talking about baby names and writing out different possibilities on a white board.
I wished that College Lindsey could have seen me going through all those mementos she created with such optimism and saved with such care. I wish she could see my real engagement ring, Abby’s and my chalk drawings on the driveway, dinner on the stove in the kitchen, Abby carrying around the Man Zoo t-shirt until she dropped it in her excitement to run greet Stephen as he pulled into the driveway.
In some ways, this is not the way I thought my life would look. My daughter is not named Madeline. Stephen does not play keyboards in a band or have long, flowing hair. My days are full of more crumbs, body fluids, and frustrated moments than I could have ever imagined. I am not a great cook or a perfect housekeeper.
But, in all the important ways, I am living the life I always dreamed of. I have a loving, devoted husband and a precious, funny daughter. We have a great house where we frequently host family and friends. As I recently read in Psalms, “the Lord has dealt bountifully with me.” How true, and how often I forget.
What a great reminder to end out dreary January and to help perk up my attitude as a new month gets underway!