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Hidden Years

Originally published Friday, 08 November 2013.

Sometimes I dig back into my blog archives and pull out something I wrote a while ago to bring over and share with my friends here. This is one of those pieces. Even though circumstances change, the themes and lessons stay the same.

This post has been swirling around in my head for a month. So many words I want to say.  Yesterday I sat down to write it. I have now spent the last 24 hours coming back and forth to my computer, staring at the blinking cursor on a completely white screen. How do I start talking about something that I am currently walking though? How do I write about something that I have so little perspective on outside of my present experiences? It’s easier to look back later and offer some reflection on what I learned in the trenches. It’s an entirely different process to look around in the mud and the rain and speak to the beautiful and challenging moments that abound.

Following a blog I had posted last month, my friend Christy sent me a note of encouragement. We wrote back and forth and I confided in her some of the challenges I find in this season of life. She responded with “Hang in there…these are some of your ‘hidden years.’”

I could not come up with a better description of how this season sometimes feels.

My mind rotates a series of thoughts that seem to conflict with each other…bringing me back to a sense that it is about balance. I don’t want to wish away these years by holding my breath until my children are grown and able to be more independent. This is a precious time and I want to cherish it.  I’m terrified that one day I’ll wake up and realize the season has passed. I also don’t want to slip into a hole of believing I can’t be plugged into the world during this time, only to emerge two decades later and find that I no longer have interests and projects that are my own. It’s amazing how I can feel so completely overwhelmed by the demands of the day, never reaching a place where everything is “done”…and at the same time I feel a yearning for activity. How is that even possible when I spend 15-16 hours a day chasing around a toddler who has more energy in a single moment than I can manage in an entire week?

These are years of waiting. They are years of great exhaustion. They are years of beautiful laughter and new discoveries. These are years of around the clock noise and work. And yet they are years of silence. These are years of learned, tested and relearned patience. Years of sacrifice and commitment. These are years of learning to do work that may never be seen. Years of learning to be okay with that. These are years where everyone sees me when my child is running out of my reach or screaming out of frustration. Years when no one sees me in that special moment when he quietly and politely obeys at home. These are years of watching my children explore the world for the first time. Years of me exploring it again through their eyes. Years of spending days running errands without makeup or showers. And years of somehow getting all cleaned up early in the morning on the days when I don’t actually see anyone. These years often feel hidden.

And all of that is okay. I can honestly say that I am at peace with it. Being at peace with something doesn’t mean it is no longer difficult. And admitting that something is difficult does not mean I don’t appreciate, love and see the beauty in it. I’m about to give birth for the second time. Labor is difficult and painful. I wish I could skip the hard part, but I can’t. And even though I’m honest that it is hard, I’m at peace going into it again. Even though the process is at times incredibly painful, the end result is more beautiful than I could express with words.

These years are also preparation years…preparing me for stories I cannot yet see. Seasons of stillness in the midst of chaos that I am sure are shaping me for the future.

Inter-mixed with other writings that I have planned for this space, I hope to keep coming back to this idea of hidden years during the season of life with small children…what it looks like…how we can be intentional about life and community within it…and learning to embrace the present, even when we embrace it through tears.