Saturday, January 7, 2012

the price of freedom, part 3 of 3

in my mind, i am still 20 years old.

i'm just past my teenage years, riding in the red cabriolet convertible i wrote about so long agothe windows down in my carseat-free car, hair blowing, music blasting, and i'm singing along as loudly as i can.  my face is wrinkle-free, without my tired under-eye circles, my hair isn't falling out due to the loss of hormones after having a baby.

i'm playing house in our 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, these lovely children are little people who i am supposed to return back to their real parents in just a hour or two.  i'm too young for them to belong to me.

i don't answer to anyone but myself, only worry about my own finances, and don't spend a minute of time thinking about my future.  i live only in today.

i can drive as long and far as i want to.  i'm not concerned about nap times, or dinner, or homework and piano practicing.  or waking at 6 a.m. to correct someone else's 25-page paper before a deadline.

i think about frivolous things: the cute shoes i want to buy, what i'm doing for the weekend, which concert is coming up that i want to go to, the phone call with the boy i'm dating, how i'm going to make next month's rent after buying those cute shoes.

i don't think about double ear infections and high fevers, or when to set a firmer consequence, or having to hear who just poked who in the back of the car, or figuring out how to teach empathy, compassion, and integrity in another human.  i don't work through ups and downs of a marriage.  a strong, good marriage... but a marriage nonetheless.

i am still 20.

and i am free.

then i happen to glance in my rear view mirror.

the rear-view mirror that reveals i am actually in a newly-purchased mini-van, surrounded by car seats.

my hair is not blowing in the wind, because the windows are all rolled up.  the soundtrack to "curious george" playing on the speakers.  i no longer sing loudly, i hum absentmindedly along to tunes that i have been listening to repeatedly for 4 years straight.  i know every word of every song, every instrumental change in every chorus.

i see my eyes, and they are tired. a result of too many sleepless nights with sick children in the past few years.  my skin is worn, with more wrinkles than i'd like to believe. {why did i ever tan my face? a very poor decision.} my hair is limp, sprouting the post-baby regrowth along my hairline.

in the mirror i see the 3 children behind me.  my children, with marks left behind from them on my body as reminders.  one is asleep, clutching her soft blankie for comfort, her plastic linky-rings dangling from the handle of her car seat.  another is crying, calling for me, telling me her ears are hurting.  my words of attempted reassurance last only seconds, until she cries out again.  and the last one is uncharacteristically quiet in the back, staring out the window, watching the cars pass by.  he is content.

our home has dishes piled, and clean laundry piled, and toys strewn about.  there are weeds that need to be picked in the front yard, cars that need to be washed, filters in a humidifier that need to be changed.  and dare i admit that still needs to be taken down.  results of the week we have had, a week i title coping.

financially, i worry constantly.  i stay up too late working to bring in extra income, my husband is gone long hours after school is over to bring in extra income, i count the days until the student loan comes through, the taxes can be finished and the return on its way, the paycheck deposited.  

we consistently work to keep our marriage off of a back-burner and on a front-burner.  to prioritize each other, to spend time with each other that matters, connecting and re-connecting after many days apart. it is not always easy to do, and takes effort and planning.

i am going to be honest here.....there are moments that i long to be my 20-year old self again.  

to be free of anxiety that was spurred by seizures and spinal taps, hospital visits, IV's and tests and orthotic casts for tiny legs.  constantly feeling it resurface when illness hits our home.  to be free of real financial concerns, free of the nagging feeling that i am potentially messing up my children by whatever i have or have not done during the day.  to be free of the hours of 3 p.m.-10 p.m. where i am on my own so often, doing it all with little people who have so many needs that i can't answer at once, only to then begin all of my other responsibilities well into the night.  to be free from answering to someone almost all of the time.

there are moments when i itch for an escape, for the real parents to walk through the door, take the unfolded laundry out of my hands, wiping the toddler's messy face as they pass by, thanking me for a job well done, telling me they can take it from here, turning the role of supportive wife and constant caretaker over to someone more competent than i am.

as i hop into my car-seat-free car, roll down the windows, turn up the music, and drive away.

but, there is a price of freedom.

freedom from the difficult and tiring means i pay the price of so much good.  

freedom from the anxiety of illness in my children means i pay the price of learning what it truly means to surrender my will to God's, and the memory of when i first learned to want another's well-being over my own.  and the overwhelming gratitude that came when those scary days of colic and seizures became less and less frequent.

freedom from under-eye circles means never knowing what it feels like to hear a tiny, sweet voice cry out for my name in the middle of the night, and answering those cries with comfort just by my touch.  no longer being able to rock a baby back to sleep, or pray with a little one for God to take away the scary dreams.

freedom from financial hardship means losing the knowledge of what it means to sacrifice, to save, to feel true humility and appreciation for the help of others.  knowing the difference between needs and wants.  learning how to never pay full price for anything.

freedom from a currently messy home means losing the feeling of satisfaction after hard work.  a home where i have been given the opportunity of creating a colorful and creative space, one that is full of light and has a feeling of peace and love within its walls.

freedom of the hours from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. means losing some of the sweetest and best times of the day.  the smell of a fresh fuzzy baby head just after a bath, hearing the words of a toddler saying a family prayer, reading and being read to by a young boy who is growing up too quickly.  peeking in on them every night after they've gone to sleep, kissing their cheeks and whispering in their ears how good they are, and how much i love them.

freedom from a marriage means losing the feeling of unconditional love, safety, comfort, teamwork, stability, happiness, a place where i belong.  working together for a common purpose. knowing someone depends on me, counts on me, needs me and wants me, and that i return the same.  

so yes.

there is freedom in a car-seat-free car, with my 20-year-old self.  where the music is loud and the worries are minor.

but i prefer buckling my children into their car seats, climbing in my mini-van, rolling up the windows, humming along, answering their requests, looking forward to their dad coming home, and staring back into my tired, 31-year-old eyes in the rearview mirror with a satisfied smile on my face.

to give all of this up?  

no way.

because for me, the price of freedom is too great.

***can you believe i finally finished this series?  it has been so so long, and i'm sure anyone who read the first two parts probably thought i had long forgotten.  i never did, i always knew what i wanted to say....i just couldn't figure out how to say it.  and today, i did.  it's much less humorous than the first two parts, and i decided not to include anymore of our past car history like i had originally intended, but what can i do?  it's just the time of life i'm in, i guess.  less humorous, more thoughtful.  but there it is anyway.  let it be written, let it be known.  hope you liked it.

{the price of freedom, part 1}
{the price of freedom, part 2}


Kristi said...

Beautifully written. I feel the same way. And someday the kids will be grown. We'll have 'freedom' again. We will not regret any sacrifice we made for our children.

LaurenHorsley said...

It's amazing how perspective changes everything. And how easy it is for me to lose focus of the things that really matter - the things I pay the price for, the things that are priceless. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, my love.

Garcizzals said...

Well Written. You have a gift. One reason why I don't like to blog.I don't write very well and I don't have a creative mind. I absolutly loved it. It makes me grateful for the things I have and miss in my life. :)

ClancyPants said...

I ♥ you.

Aubrey and Jardan said...

Lynsey, thanks for seeing such beauty in your life--you help me discover it in mine.

ohmylanta said...

I love it! I totally want to comment. I will be back to do it. The two year old is calling for me and after reading your post, I think I better go pay attention to my kids, make dinner and clean up before my hubby gets home.


Kristen said...

Lynsey! I've been thinking about you and haven't looked at your blog for a really long time. Not because I didn't want to, because I'm so behind on my blog I wouldn't let myself enjoy anyone else's until I was caught up. I'm still not caught up but I have been thinking about you . . . so I had to check in on you guys. So glad I did. I always find myself agreeing with everything you say and inwardly thanking you for saying how I feel so well. You are beautiful. You are gifted. Thanks for being so amazing! I love you and your beautiful, tired 31 year-old eyes!

Fawn said...

I totally understand Lynsey. I have moments when I am listening to Justin Beiber for the 100th time, picking up the trail of Fran's dirty clothes & watching Pirates of the Carriben again and again and i think, what am I doing here? Like I just went to bed at 20 and woke up at the age of 32 with all these responsiblities. But after I put them to bed & I've had 30 minutes to myself I totally miss them :)

Megan said...

Wow! That was incredible. Look at you- you are so wonderful and I am so proud of you. Seriously your one of a kind. Don't ever forget how amazing you really are!

Rachel Chick said...

I stopped into FB tonight as I finally finished "cleaning" the kitchen and putting all five children to bed by myself. It's been a long day and I still have more to go. I clicked your link and again enjoyed those sweet pictures of your boy on his bike and your sweet Ben. I love that post. At the end, it had a link to this one . . . .

. . . I love you so much, Lynsey. Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul with so many. You are amazing. These words are exactly what I needed to hear tonight. You have so often been an answer to the prayer I didn't know I had. Thank you.

Rachel Chick said...

Also, that picture of you at the top is SO beautiful. You've always be lovely Lynsey, but you get more and more beautiful the longer I know you.