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Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Tom and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary a few days ago, which has got me reflecting on how marriage has changed my life. There are the little adaptations—like not eating curry so much anymore since Tom doesn’t like it—as well as the seismic changes, like parenthood, which I wouldn’t have tackled alone. In fact it’s hard to separate marriage and motherhood in my mind, since I got pregnant only six months after Tom and I strolled down a grassy aisle in the Endless Mountains, an event that literally feels like a lifetime ago.

At the time of our wedding I was writing a book about discerning a call to marriage as a spiritual path. While I still agree with the ideas in Listen with Your Heart, it now seems absurd to me that I had the gall to write such a book at that point in my life. Admittedly it started out as a book about being single, which I was more qualified to write having had years of experience. However, my relationship with Tom and the book evolved at the same time, so the book I published was different from the one I started. Part of the blessing of that process came from the interviews I did for the book, which often taught me just what I needed to learn at that stage of my own discernment.

Now I have a lot less time to sit around discerning God’s leading. As a multi-tasking mother, I have to discern while I’m making dinner or driving Megan to Irish dance lessons. It’s distracted discernment, to be sure, but it’s the best I can manage, at least until school starts. Now I’m so grateful for two hours of writing time to stitch my reflections together, a scrap of time I took for granted as a single, childless woman.

Being more grateful is one of the ways I’ve changed during the past ten years. Having children, losing a pregnancy and two older relatives, and watching my mother decline have all made me more aware of life’s fragility. I hear about a child who died falling off the peer at the beach last week, and I hug Luke close when he climbs onto my lap, knowing that he’s the kind of kid who likes to climb the fence at the peer. Amid nagging Megan to practice the piano, I notice how tired she looks face down on the couch and stroke her back, remembering for a moment to be grateful for this beautiful little girl. I see Tom teaching Luke to peel garlic for gazpacho, and I remember the serendipity that brought us together and feel gratitude for his gentle presence and these ten years.

I’d like to think marriage has made me a less selfish person, but that might be overstating it. While we were still newlyweds Tom quietly pointed out that I took the last cereal in the box without considering whether he’d like some. (It was true: I hadn’t even thought of him.) I still have to work at this, thinking of my family’s needs along with my own. I’m not one of those women who have gone the other way, who always put their husbands and children before themselves, nor do I want to be one of them, frankly. But I do want to be more gracious than I sometimes am when I don’t get time to exercise or write because other needs come first. I want to recognize my own selfishness and impatience and find that ever shifting balance between caring for myself and caring for others. Maybe I’ll get this down in the next ten years.

A decade from now we could be sending Megan off to college. Luke could have his driver's license, a thought too frightening to contemplate. Tom could be nearing retirement, and I could be the primary breadwinner through the college years, another frightening thought. I only have a moment to wonder if I'll be making money from my writing in ten years; there are too many needs bringing me back to the present (the videos due at the library, my mother's laundry). For now I am just grateful for our anniversary, which reminded me to be grateful, and a few hours to write about it.


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