I Know Better

Sink or Swim

No one told me there’d be 13 pair of shoes.


I’m holding a fussy baby, a sweet-smelling, perfectly darling baby whose eyes sometimes show white all the way around who is in desperate need of a burp or toot or something to calm his complaining.


I type with one hand, using my legs as a swing for the littlest one, and survey my kingdom.


The loveseat is covered with the outcome of six loads of laundry, sorted but not put away.


The fake plants in the corner have a layer of dust so thick I should write “Wash Me!” across the leaves.


All but two pair of shoes are piled in front of the shoe rack. There are 13 pairs of shoes, glittery ones, cowboy ones, green frog face ones, flip-flop ones… there are 13 pairs of shoes in a pile in front of the shoe rack.


No one ever warned me about the shoes.


When I promised “for better or worse,” I wasn’t thinking about laundry or shoes.


When I heard that first, gasping cry from a tiny being emerging from my body, I wasn’t thinking about the battles over hairstyles or eating of dinner.


When I thought “car payment,” I didn’t dream of a high mileage 4×4 Suburban.


I envisioned a life of stereotypes: a hottie husband, traveling the world, a few kiddos who sprang from the womb equipped with the knowledge of how to win friends, influence people, and disarm a ticking bomb in their free time.


The naive dream held a life with financial ease, without a care for health, employment, relationships; well-liked and admired, my family would be perfect. I’d have a live-in housekeeper and the ability to throw a pair of socks away the moment they were soiled (no matching, ever!).


I didn’t know any better.


I didn’t know the reward of seeing your child’s first smile after weeks of sleep deprivation.


I didn’t know the sense of pride that comes with seeing an odometer turn over at 180K and know the vehicle is running perfectly and paid off.


I didn’t realize the deep, quiet joy that comes from holding your hottie husband’s hand, seeing a few more lines around the eyes, and knowing for certain you’re in it for the long haul, that his character has made him even more attractive as the years have passed.


I thought I could have a five, ten and twenty year plan, it would be perfect and there would be no deviation.


Man, I didn’t know any better.


The hiccups along the journey, the unexpected challenges that push you to your limits, the surprising grief of living… those are the stories that need to be told.


Those are the adventures worth having. The life of ease? Yeah, it’s a nice dream, it’s the hope I had for my future. It’s nice, it’s calm, it’s typical. It doesn’t involve one-handed typing or chaos.


But that life? It’s not the life of adventure. There is no description of ease that matches with the knowledge you can sail through raging storms, feel the agony of challenge and emerge with the adrenaline of victory!


Laundry monsters? Job issues? 13 pair of shoes? Meh. Those are the details of a life that dares you not to give up.


I know that now.

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