I Wasn’t Expecting This . . .

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My husband and I were married in 2010.  We bought our first house that same year and got pregnant in 2011.  Aurora was born in 2012 and Harper just 20 months later in 2013.  In 2014 we moved once again and in 2015 we had our third daughter, Emma Jane.  Needless to say, we squeezed a whole-lotta-livin’ in a very short amount of time.

I’m 32 and my husband is 42, so we have felt the proverbial clock ticking as he creeps towards his mid forties.  Emmett’s father was 45 when Emmett was born and sadly, Bill passed away when Aurora was just three months old.  Emmett realizes he is getting a late start and wants as much time with his children as possible, so here we are.

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We’ve gained so much by adding these three beautiful babies to our family and yet, lost so much, too.  I can still feel the wind in my hair as we sailed down the boardwalk on our beach cruisers, nearly every night, years ago from May- September.  I can taste the salt air and feel the joy in my bones as we grooved to sweet reggae music each Wednesday night.  We were madly in love and we knew what we had was special.

I am so attracted to my husband when I watch him swing in our hammock with our two and three-year old, singing Jingle Bells at the top of their lungs.  Or when he includes them in everything he does- handing him a tool, helping him dig a hole for his garden, carrying the wood that he chops.  He is an A+ father- I have never witnessed anything like it.

But it has taken its toll.  Friendly competition in a game of beach volleyball has been replaced with weekly bargaining of “free time”.  “Is it ok if I go to book club this week since you are playing a pick-up game on Monday?” Or  “Do you mind if I fish on Saturday?  I’ll let you sleep in on Sunday and will take the kids the rest of the day.”  Both of us fully-recognizing the sacrifice of the other on our behalf.  Taking care of 3 kids three-and-under is no easy feat, particularly when solo.  Moreover, our children are still so dependent, and since I am a stay-at-home-mom, they haven’t had anyone else put them down for nap or bedtime, so we are reluctant to leave them for “date nights”.  Date nights aren’t much fun when you are hauling a newborn or worrying about whether the two-year old has caused the babysitter to scream “mercy” yet.

Not much time has passed, and yet those early years feel like a lifetime ago.  We are still in love, we are steadfastly committed to one another and our family, but we are sad at the loss of who we used to be- of our freedom to spend 14 hours straight on the beach, leaving only after watching that last sliver of sun hide behind the horizon.  We long for more time hiking in the woods or fishing from a canoe down a slow-moving river, fully recognizing that none of those things will ever come as easily as they once did.  Even if we were to secure a sitter, our children would never be far from our minds.  We would miss them just as much as we would be relieved to have a break.

Life has changed.  Our lives and our hearts are full- full of healthy, glowing, young daughters; but we are still processing this great change.    We know things will get easier (and harder!) in some ways as the girls grow and that this time is precious and fleeting.  So for now, we immerse ourselves into being fully-present parents and take little moments here and there to encourage one another and give each other a break when we need it the most.

We hold onto this dream of taking our girls with us camping and canoeing- of watching them play beach volleyball and dancing with us to sweet reggae music.  And in the back of our minds, we grin at the thought of us once-again cruising down the boardwalk, ALONE, with the wind in our faces, the salt air on our tongues, and our hearts over-flowing with the life we have created together.

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*In order of photos included, special thanks to Dee Akright, Danielle Ice and Camille Vaughan photography. *

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