two weekends ago, ryan & i were able to head back to pensacola for a weekend away, just the two of us. it was an incredibly important trip for us -- a chance to go back and touch a rock in our lives. pensacola was where ryan was stationed when we got engaged, where we lived for the first year of our marriage -- the backdrop for a really significant three years in our story.
we hadn't been back since we moved to virginia & being there felt, in so many ways, like going home for us. the familiar sights, sounds, views were all a balm for our souls. we ate in the restaurants, took the drives, walked the beaches, went to the church, told the stories and wandered the target aisles of that season of life. we did the ordinary things we did all the time when we lived there. it reminded us just how solid of a foundation we forged there. it reminded us of all the things we were intentional about & how much care we took in laying the cornerstones for our little family. it also allowed us to get some perspective on how far we've come, how different our lives are now.
one of my the poignant moments was when we were driving down scenic highway, a road we used to live on (my dad said it best when he wrote us a letter after a visit saying that "all marriages should begin on scenic highway" -- it was a really incredible place to begin our lives together) -- we were talking about the major hats each of us wears right now. -- for me wife & mom, for ryan husband, dad & pilot. we were talking about how all of those were relatively new roles for us, but long, long anticipated for each of us. ryan has wanted to be a navy pilot his whole life, we've both had a sense we wanted to get married & start a family for as long as we can remember.
but like most things in life, what that actually looks and feels like has been unexpected. i always seem to want to live with one foot in whatever is the next season of life, i've longed to be just a bit older, a bit further along. time & time again, when i finally arrive in that moment, it's different than i anticipated. and what always catches me off guard is that it's never hard in the ways i expected it to be hard. so, i find myself flailing a bit, feeling unprepared, rushing off to try to fix things or make them better. but now this moment finally feels like i'm beginning to do what i've long needed to do -- to settle in. here's what i mean -- it's unnatural for me, the type a doer, to really rest in a season of life. to rest in whatever discomfort and hardship might be there & to really yield that it's exactly where i'm supposed to be. the good, the bad and the ugly is the moment i'm intended for.
you see, i believe deeply ryan is who i'm supposed to go through life with, that he is meant to be a navy pilot & that, for now, my primary responsibility is being his wife & ellie's mom. this life -- especially being a military wife & all this life entails -- is incredibly unexpected for me. & i have days where i look around and think "how the heck did i get here?!!" but in an honest moment --- i know, deep within my soul, this is EXACTLY where i'm supposed to be. i've always spent so much time trying to make things better, even perfect; to improve, to ace the test -- and now i'm learning that's a fruitless task -- there's always going to be imperfection, uncertainty, discomfort. i'm missing so much by trying to barrel through the difficult things instead of seeing them as connected to all the good around me. that both the incredible blessings in my life, and the hardships, are working for my good -- so that i can be more loving, more kind, more empathetic, more generous, more authentic. when i fight this, i waste so much energy on things that in an honest moment, i know are completely beyond my control & not mine to "fix." i miss opportunities to dig in with people i care about, to really listen, to care for, to see the growth that i so badly need.
ryan & i were telling each other the moments when we knew we were beginning to settle into these hats we each plan to wear for a long time -- like how it's not odd to ryan anymore that i have his last name or to talk about his wife or daughter -- it's a part of his identity. we also were talking about where we know some important growth still lies ahead. i was telling him about this evening i'd had with some really dear friends. they'd kindly come over for dinner because ryan was gone for training and ellie was going to bed really early. i was reading with their four year old after dinner and they were on the floor stacking blocks with their one year old -- i looked over and saw how content they were. there was no sense there were more productive things they could be doing or that there's some place they'd rather be on a friday night or that stocking blocks with a one year old was monotonous. it was clear that this how they do life -- this is where they invest their time, their patience, their love. they've been married for seven years & parents for almost five years -- it was so clear to me how much they'd genuinely settled into those roles in a really beautiful way.
i think so much of entering parenthood is about yielding to how much it will change who you are and how you've always done things. and i've fought a lot of that -- i've thought that there was some way i could avoid changing how i view a productive day, or how i like to structure my time or get things done. the example i always use (which is kind of silly, but explains it) is that i have always been a morning shower person. ellie changed that completely -- mornings are sacred time for us. we share a bowl of oatmeal, i drink my latte while we build towers or color. & then we're usually off on an adventure or to see friends. i pull my hair back, pull on some clothes and we head off. when i need to shower is after i've put her to bed, i crave the chance to decompress, to reset, to settle into the time i have before i head to bed. it sounds ridiculous, but it's been so humbling to see all these silly things i've had my security or identity in just go by the wayside -- to realize my own selfishness and security lurked in the oddest places. & that the world keeps spinning when those things change or adapt or get redefined. in fact, often life is even better.
& so i'm settling in -- not pretending all of this is comfortable, but resting that this is where I'm supposed to be. these are the people i'm supposed to be doing life with. these are the circumstances i'm meant to navigate, the people i'm meant to love on, the growth i need. and that when i look around, there is so much to be grateful for. blessings abound. this past saturday morning, ellie & i were in our backyard. she was in a fit of giggles as she rolled over this gigantic red ball. i watched her chase bubbles across the yard -- and then get distracted by something she found in our grass. finally, we sat in silence as we drew with chalk while the sun warmed our backs. i looked up at the bright, blue sky & thought -- this is exactly where i'm supposed to be right now. i'd longed for that morning all my life and hadn't even known it.
photo above taken while we were in pensacola, nothing convinces me more of how i need to settle in than standing by the ocean.