I'm going to come out and say something that I've been hesitant to admit, for fear of complaining about one of life's greatest blessings. But here it is: this pregnancy has been hard. By the time this baby is born I will have three children ages three and under. My body has already undergone 2 C-Sections, and is beginning to rebel against me, begging for a break. I am so grateful for healthy babies, and not having any major complications with any of my pregnancies, but have experienced pretty much every other unpleasant pregnancy symptom you can think of. Meanwhile, I have a hilarious, yet strong-willed three-year-old, and an incredibly active and clingy one-year-old to chase, lift, and rescue from furniture he's climbed on top of. It can be mentally and physically exhausting, and there have been many moments where I've struggled to remain in a state of gratitude.
What has caught me off guard, though, are the moments of sheer joy that seem to peek through the dark clouds right when I need them the most. It could be my toddler's belly laugh or my daughter leaning in for an early morning snuggle on the couch. Those moments keep me sane when I feel like life is a treadmill on high speed that I can't escape.
This past Friday I got an entire morning to ride the high of a series of perfect little pockets of joy. It was a gorgeous day here in Northeastern Florida, and I knew the kids would be in a better mood if we got out of the house and enjoyed some fresh air. On a whim, I decided to drive the 15 minutes to the beach to visit a donut shop that just opened a few months ago. Because, honestly, what starts the weekend on a better note than donuts and iced coffee? Nothing. The answer is nothing.
The kids and I couldn't decide on just one kind of donut, and we felt kind of bad that Justin couldn't be there with us, so we opted for the box of 6 donuts with a variety of flavors. I couldn't wipe the goofy grin off my face as I watched Pippa and Teddy dig into the sprinkles and frosting, and it hit me how sweet of a stage we're in right now. We're not lugging a carseat around, and I don't need a stroller everywhere I go. Teddy doesn't necessarily need a highchair at a restaurant, and they can both eat fairly independently. The two of them play together, laugh together, and watch their shows together.
And, yes, all that will change in a matter of a few short weeks. Our routines and lives will be disrupted, but for the best reason possible. Our family will grow, and our love will grow, and we'll find our new rhythm and our new normal. It will be hard, and it will be physically exhausting, but it will also be so beautiful, just like that frosting-covered moment in the donut shop.
I wanted so badly to make that feeling last a little bit longer, so we decided to take a stroll on the boardwalk by the ocean while I finished my cinnamon iced coffee. Pippa danced and sang as the wind whipped her curls across her face. Teddy pointed to birdies and doggies and squealed with delight at everything he saw. And though the familiar pregnancy aches began to settle into my hips and knees as we slowly made our way across the boardwalk, I couldn't even be bothered to feel bad about it.
They say ocean air has healing powers, so maybe that was it. But I think something more was at play. God knew exactly what I needed when the demands of adulthood and parenthood began to drag me down. That morning - those donuts, that iced coffee, the beach, the palm trees, my kids happy and healthy - that morning was his gift. It was a reminder to me that he never promises us an easy life or a pain-free life, but he is our Father who gives us good things. He draws us closer to him through the troubles, and grants us respite when the burden feels too heavy.
Those pockets of joy are everywhere. May God grant me the wisdom to see them for what they are, and a heart of gratitude to enjoy them.