I remember 10 years ago, when we were newlyweds and Josh was hired on to do a large renovation project at IU, at the football stadium actually. Hours were long, pay was pretty good and while working on campus, there were many rules in which to abide. One of them was that Josh had 30 minutes for lunch each day and he wasn’t permitted to leave the premises. So, he had to bring his lunch, every day. Simple enough, right?
This is so silly, but at 25 years old, we thought, ok, we need to plan for this. We have to buy enough lunchmeat and cheese for the week, have enough bread, miracle whip, drinks, chips, pack a water bottle and an ice pack every single day… and have to make lunch the night beforhand since he had to leave the house so incredibly early in the morning. He had to be prepared and he cared a lot about this new job. (And besides who actually likes packing lunches every single night?) Where I, on the other hand, could take lunch whatever time I wanted, could come home and make something like canned soup or have leftovers. What great perspective it is, to look back and remember how we felt about packing his lunchbox every single night. We had so much growing to do.
Recently, I have had to remind myself that there is such a difference between our 20’s and our 30’s or just simply the ‘newlywed phase’ to the ‘parents with young children phase’ of life. We were really still learning how to adult as newlyweds at 25. We were mature, had jobs that were in our favor and owned our home that we were constantly fixing up together (as well as almost an acre to care for) BUT everything was new to us. It was exciting to pick out paint, take down that huge pine tree, plant that Japanese maple, and garden almost daily in the spring and summer time. We changed out light fixtures, faucets, drawer handles, door knobs, repainted interior doors and all of the ugly trim and ripped up carpet. To rearrange decor and furniture and to buy stepstones, plants, flowers, pavers and place them where we wanted… And to make spare bedrooms ready for all of our many roommates and guests over the 4 years we lived in our first home- this was all nothing shy of thrilling.
We dreamed of fixing up this first house together, project after project, with our own hands, sweat equity and a minimal budget, just to then sell it in a risky market and have it (hopefully) help pay for the next house. And then just to do it all over again on a much larger scale. We were so happy and were living the life.
Fast forward 10 years and we are in our 3rd home, with 3 boys, still living the life. I now pack lunchboxes x3, 5 nights a week and hopefully remember to throw something (canned soup) in my bag so that Mama has lunch too. (So glamorous, I know.) I get every one ready, fed, out the door and to the bus stop or to PreK every single morning. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT to, as their Mom but I seriously break a sweat (and stress) putting on shoes, coats, backpacks and carrying everyone and everything, every single morning. Our morning routine of just getting ready includes plenty of cardio for me. When I finally get to my office, I sit down at my desk and take a deep breath. Whooo, we made it again.
And to look back and remember that my 25 year old self would occasionally be 2 minutes late to work because I used to run 3 miles, or swim 10 laps at the high school, then shower, curl my hair, drive a six speed (in sneakers) and then put on high heels in the parking lot before work. If only she could see what I do now. What would I think of my future self? That I am now crazy? Nuts? Or different? More mature?
WISER. I think that we are now simply wiser than before.
It was once so new to pack a lunch every night of the week and now, I pack 15, not including me, in a week with my eyes closed… and then change 4 of us, tie shoes, brush teeth and load up backpacks, diaper bag and carseat.
As we grow, learn, open up our beautiful, little minds and day after day stretch the impossible to possible, we take in so much about life and all that it has to offer. I had the time of my life as a newlywed in my 20’s but now I wouldn’t trade this stage of life for the world. I smile and look back at my 25 year old self and realize how much I just didn’t know that I was capable of doing until I pushed myself. And pushed myself some more. And then further and further as friends, family and colleagues encouraged me too. I wrote a business plan and enjoyed everything I got to do at work with my team, I trained for a half marathon and ran it (only once), started another event planning business with a couple of friends, ran events (and closed the business too). I began this blog and traveled to about 10 new cities each year, allowing me to visit friends and family and make new friends along the way as well. Thank God, I have learned SO many lessons along the way. I had a lot of growing to do.
Ocean City, Maryland
College reunion – Montclair, NJ
And Josh could write a book here about how he began his small business, 10 years ago, and all that has changed since then. His business has grown in many different ways, none of which we could have possibly known when he first called me to tell me, (I was traveling for work, in Lincolshire, IL) that he was going to go out on his own and start his own business. “Shouldn’t we have a conversation about this first?” “Nope, I’m ready.” Josh is the biggest risk taker I know. And thank goodness I didn’t hold him back. And since then, I have learned to not question him and try too hard to play it safe and hold him back. He knows what he is doing and has the network of friends, family, business partners and resources to do just about anything.
There is so much to be done in a decade, right? Reflecting back to the person in the beginning of this decade, we may have thought that we are now doing the impossible– Impossible compared to what we thought we could do. God has a great plan for all of us and it is for us to grow and learn into that plan.
I am so grateful that I, and we as a married couple, have grown and changed in these ways over these 10 years. I mean we had no real adult experience with children whatsoever before we held our own. I can only hope that every stage of life feels this way; the feeling that I wouldn’t trade it for anything and can fondly look back and see where we have grown. Also, it is just as important to be open to change. And I, of course, recognize there are plenty of areas where I still need to learn, grow and improve too.
If I had advise for a newlywed, or someone in their 20’s? Don’t get discouraged by what you may not have in your life just yet but do all of the things, little by little, step by step, every single day, to get headed in the right direction. Set your goals high.
Whatever it may be, appreciate the stage you are in and be open to growing by pushing yourself to the limit.
And as my Grandmother always told me, remember to Grow where you are planted.