Thursday, May 24, 2012

Choosing Joy

It's a beautifully rainy day. The rain is coming down in a heavy, steady stream. It's soaking into the ground and helping everything to look even more green and more alive. There's an occasional rumble of thunder, which leaves my dog nervous and panting - and I, well, I've grown insensitive to how much it terrifies him. I love my dog, but he won't make me hate a thunderstorm.

Perhaps it's because green is my favorite color; perhaps it's because my child was born in spring on a beautifully sunny day that followed with a week of steady rain. Who knows what it is about spring that triggers such perspective and nostalgia for me? Whatever it is, I am so thankful that I consistently have at least one time each year where things appear clear and hopeful.

I realize it's been a year since I told you all about the day I went to the emergency room and ended up with a catheter for what I hoped was just a weekend. I don't even think I told you all that it ended up being two weeks and I was so frustrated and a little scared that I'd never be able to sit down and pee in a toilet again. And consequently, that makes it a year since I've sat down and written about our desire to have another child, the hopes we had after having that surgery, and ultimately the disappointment ... because, internet, I would have told you if I was pregnant!

We've gone through a whirlwind of hope, disappointment, new ideas, adoption discussions, and so on and so forth. The adoption topic is so tricky because on the one hand, it's something Joel and I thought we'd want to do even before we got married - even before getting pregnant or trying to conceive was a thought in our mind. Adoption isn't a consolation to us, I realize the huge need and blessing of it. But we can't get over the nagging feeling that at this point in our life that it just doesn't feel like the best option. Of course there are the finance issues, but there are also the emotional issues that I'm not sure anyone in our family is ready for.

So while the clock ticks on, we have spent the last 3+ years of life feeling like we are in a perpetual limbo. Every single decision we make has the nagging questions of what if I'm pregnant? or would that money be better spent on adoption? And while I sometimes hesitate to say parts our life have been "hard," because it isn't without the realization that it could be so much harder. That we could be experiencing much bigger griefs. That there is so much suffering throughout the world. But what good are we doing if we pretend that everything we're facing is easy?

And then, about a month ago, my husband noticed a big lump in his neck. And that lump rapidly grew bigger and bigger, and more and more painful. And we worried. We tried very hard not to worry, tried to think positively, tried to wait on the tests, biopsy, general news with grace and hope that God is the healer. Which I do believe He is, but I also know that really, really crappy things can happen to really, really good people. And we're only sort of good.

Our minds went to places we didn't want them to go. There was a heavy black cloud over most of our actions as we tried to ignore the Google searches that warned us this could be something very bad. We also knew it could be almost nothing at all, and most of the time we believed in that. It was at this time that Heather from Life Made Lovely shared this gorgeous print that reads, "I Choose Joy," and as I mourned her loss, and her reason for needing such a sign in her house, I knew we needed it too.

I'm glad to say that while Joel still has a big, uncomfortable lump in his neck, and he will likely need surgery to remove it; it is almost nothing. It is not cancer, it's not a thyroid issue, it's nothing but a ridiculous lump that decided to grow. While there are times that I want to punch a hole in a wall when I hear the phrase, "everything happens for a reason," or "this is God's will," today - with this benign lump - I kind of see it.

When we were thinking about what the bad news could mean, we were not simultaneously thinking, "our family isn't big enough." We were thinking about the experiences our family still needs to share and, really, how much we love our one little girl. If we've learned anything at all over the past 5 or 6 years it's that you absolutely cannot predict what your future will be like. We may have more children. I think we're coming to terms with the reality that now is not the time to adopt, but who's to say we won't desire to adopt older children when we're a little older ourselves?

I have had so many worries about having an only child. It's somewhat perpetuated by the question that so many people ask, "so you have just the one child then?" It breaks my heart to have the word "just" put before Rosemary as if she isn't so very worth it. Or the looks I get when I say I am a stay-at-home mom of a 6-year-old who is in school all day. Like it's only okay to be a stay-at-home mom when you have a lot of kids - for some reason it doesn't seem like it makes the same impact when it's "just" for one.

While I probably won't stay at home forever, while I am inching (more like centimetering) back into a teaching career, let me just pause right here to give thanks to God for how great this little family is. It's already more than I could have asked for. I'm already happier and more blessed and more in love than I possibly could have imagined. I have no regrets.

So there you have it. This is me letting go and feeling really good about it. I know how life and emotions work, so I reserve the right to still have questions, confusions, changes of heart, and so on. But I don't want to spend any more of my life longing for what could be when I am truly happy with what is. In our happy little family, I choose joy.


  1. Katie, this is so beautiful and thoughtful. I am proud of your resolution, and know it took a lot of hard [mind]work to get there! Your family is unique and beautiful as is, and will be however it evolves throughout your life.

    Love you. I'm so glad to call you my friend.

  2. This is a touching, real and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I'm new to your family and your journey and I feel that I've learned so much in this one post. Be kind to yourself Mama and know that your family is "just" right. Sending virtual internet hugs.

  3. Oh Katie, I'm sorry you guys are going through this. Thank you for sharing something so private. I know whatever you guys choose to do will be what is right for your fam

    love ya