Marriage took everything out of me

I got married young. And fast.

To some, that’s a bad combination. But it wasn’t to us. I was nearly done with schooling and he was somewhere in the middle, and it would be…well, perfect.

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But then I learned something. The part that romance novels and Hollywood and love gurus don’t talk about when you’re getting ready to be fitted for a dress and testing wedding cake. It was a truth that had me shocked and keeled over in tears when it first hit me. And I remember saying it out loud and watching his face from the bathroom door completely change as I said it.

“This marriage is taking everything out of me!”

Looking back on that night, almost three years ago now, I’m glad I realized it. I’m glad I learned that marriage does, in fact, take it all out of you and it never gives it back.

And you know what? I’m grateful for all those things that it never gives back.

But it took a while to be thankful for it. Because when you first get married you cling to all the things that in reality decays a marriage. The things that are comfortable. The things that make you right. The things that tell you this isn’t the fairytale you thought it would be and this is actually hard work.

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But looking back now, I can’t help but feel thankful for that night when I shouted that it was taking everything I had inside of me. Here I am now, sitting beside an imperfect man who stresses out over nursing exams and keeps his crusty cereal bowl on the nightstand, and I love him more than I ever have. Imperfections and all. And that’s because of the daily process of letting marriage refine us.

Marriage strips you of selfishness.

It robs you of impulsiveness.

It teaches you painful lessons of compromise and scolds you to pick your battles.

It brings you to your knees in prayer when your spouse is hurting and you suddenly realize your own heart hurts too.

It binds blind ambitions and prioritizes what matters. It makes you rethink your dreams and steals the dreams that suddenly hold no more weight in your heart.

It burns down the towers of bad habits and hammers out expectations that disappoint.

It takes it all out of you little by little.

But yet–three years later, and still on the beginning trailhead, I see that it gives back a whole lot more.

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I’m grateful for the woman that marriage made me into. I don’t think the old Kayla would ever allow myself the same grace to have a messy apartment every once in a while in order to take that extra nap I need. But Matt did. So I do.

I’m stronger now and more resilient simply because I chose to stay–to work hard–at something that was difficult. I got up from the bathroom floor and decided I wouldn’t quit this time around like I had quit so many things in the past. That Matt was worth it. And I carried that virtue into every detail of my life, working harder than ever before for things that are worth it.

I bite my tongue more, practicing kindness and love for people who often seem undeserving. I choose to redirect frustrations and calm arguments and we’ve chiseled away at all the rough edges that comes with learning how to work through the meaningless, “But I think I’m right” debacles.

I’ve learned to be a whole lot more spontaneous. From adopting bunnies from cardboard boxes to deciding one day to drive to the ocean “just because”, Matt has taught me to seize life by the reins. No need to pencil it in or be logical about it.

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I’ve learned to love. A lot. When I said “I do” I thought that was the pinnacle of it all. That I had reached the point where I understood what true love is. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single day is another lesson in how to love and it’s taught me so far that love isn’t given to you, it’s worked for and chosen.

Love is dirty laundry, two separate blankets on the bed to stop early morning tug-o-wars, netflix, make-upless faces, mascara on his dress shirts, texts to get milk after work, and lots of hugs after a long, bad day. Love is admitting you’re wrong, listening when you’d rather talk, and surrendering when you’d rather say the last word. It’s opening yourself up completely and letting everything fall out, letting your inner being be replaced by something that is refined and smoother and more equipped. Love is a daily choice.

I look back at my wedding pictures and smile.

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Such a beautiful day for so many reasons. It was the first day of the journey toward becoming SO much better together. I see two people who are just about to learn what love actually is. Two people who truly won’t give up, just like their wedding song stated. And I see a girl who eventually let marriage take everything out of her.

That’s all it really takes, after all.

Sure, we have miles to go. Years to go. Lots more lessons to be learned and lots of experiences to be had. We have children and moves and losses and celebrations and milestones up ahead. But I’m thankful we learned a lesson that some people, years and years in, still have yet to grasp. A painful lesson, but a rewarding one at that.

Marriage will beg to take everything out of you.

Let it.

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Women in the home are exceptional: A letter to a feminist blogger

Dear Amy,

I read your blog post yesterday.

This one, to be exact: “I look down on young women with husbands and kids and I’m not sorry”.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I was stunned. I read almost every comment on your blog and I know for  sure that I’m not alone in the category of “jaw-dropped-women”. But before you click out of this post and think this is just one more hateful monologue about your writing–let me first say this. Just a few years ago, I agreed with you. I’m ashamed to say it now. But I won’t deny it. I believed the lie. And let me tell you, in a kind way of course, why it’s in fact a lie.

As you can read from my biography and as you can see from all my social media platforms–I’m a career woman too, just like you. It’s always been in my blood. Like you, I get a thrill from traveling. I live off of the adrenaline that pumps through my blood under deadlines. I’m a busy bee–a workaholic at times, even. And I enjoy tackling challenges, probably like you do. And just like you, I’m a writer.

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And much like you express in your letter (though I wasn’t exactly as heated about the topic) I tended to wonder why not EVERY woman wanted opportunity to step out into the world and take it in her hands and mold it into the shape she wanted. Why didn’t every woman want to get a degree and climb corporate ropes and BE something valuable and highly-esteemed? I didn’t want to disappear. It wasn’t that I looked down on women in the home, I just didn’t want to be that woman.

You said in your post, “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids”. And within a young mind, I believed that because that’s what the world whispered to me. Rise above your gender roles, it said to me.

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But then, I started my career. I bought my own groceries and I paid my own bills. I had viral blog posts *like you* and I had plenty of bylines to stack up my resume.

But you want to know something? I noticed that at the end of the day, when the stories are written and the projects are done–all I want is to come home and talk to my husband. The “ball and chain” people speak of makes life exceptional. At the end of the day, before I go to any CEO or big-wig director with a concern, I’ll go to my mom. Because she created an exceptional life for me. She is exceptional.

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During visits to see my nephews and nieces and holiday functions (that I actually get off from work), I watch my sisters-in-law with awe as they carry a baby on one hip and wipe sticky goop from a toddler’s hair with another, all while carrying on an intelligent conversation with the rest of us. They are exceptional to me.

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My greatest teachers in my life never stood at the front of a boardroom. They waited at the bus stop for me. They gave me cough medicine at 3 in the morning. They married me at an altar and promised to put up with my not-so-nice days. They held me when no one understood and they worked odd jobs and sacrificed it all to stay home and make sure I had after-school snacks and help with my math. They raised my nephews and nieces with tenderness that taught me patience and compassion. They showed me what it means to live an exceptional life–what it means to be exceptional.

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You say that “doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business”. I know how it may look like that, Amy. But I also know that when I threw up all over my sheets in the middle of the night when I was just 7-years-old and my mother woke up to wash, dry, and fold them right back over my bed, humming a song as she scratched my back and put me to sleep again, she was doing a work far greater than building any business. She was building me.

That is exceptional.

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From the ones raising CEO’s to the CEO’s themselves–every moving part is vital to humanity’s progression. From the mother who wakes up nine times in the night to soothe a crying baby to the lawyer who falls asleep on a desk of work–the dedication and resilience is astounding to me. And exceptional.

As women we need to stand together, Amy. We need to remind the world of why mothers and wives and husbands and those within the walls of our homes help build nations. We need to stick together and cheer each other on for building families, building businesses, building futures, building homes and most importantly–building people.

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We need to remind the world of the courageousness and importance of womanhood. That, my friend, is what’s truly and undeniably exceptional.

All my best,

A fellow blogger

Living with endometriosis: The lessons in waiting- Part I

Today I got the bad news.

The diagnosis was Endometriosis. And it sucked to hear.

I wish there was a prettier way of putting it–a more eloquent way of describing to you how it felt to hear the doctor say it. But there isn’t. It just plain sucked.

I’m not keeping a blog to just document the squeaky-clean pretty parts of our life together as a young family. I’m keeping a blog called ALL our Lemmony things. And this is part of it. The big, painful, why-is-life-so hard trials. *Big surprise, huh?*

I had a feeling something was wrong way back when we started trying for a baby. I don’t know why, but if you’re reading this (and you’re a woman) you probably know what I mean by somehow just knowing when something is off. For me, the red flags were everywhere, including excruciating cramps that even landed me in the hospital at one point. I seriously thought I was going to die. Or give birth. But I wasn’t pregnant, so I had all bets on that first one.

That, and so many other red flags (irregular cycles, abdominal pain, headaches) were things I pushed to the back burner because I was focused on having a baby. And by golly, nothing was going to stop me.

Until today.

My legs hung over the high examination table, hands wringing together nervously while the doctor took off his glasses and looked me straight in the eye. He didn’t dance around the subject, but the soft tone of his voice–the kind of voice that people use at funerals or during break ups– scared me more than anything. He told me that it’s clear to him that I have a severe case of Endometriosis. He said a few times he isn’t saying I can’t have kids. It’ll just be much harder and it might take weeks…months…or years…of fertility treatments and visits to specialists. There’s no saying what kind of timeframe it’ll be.

I instantly felt like a broken woman.

This isn’t meant to insult or hurt those who were diagnosed with this same thing. Actually, this is just my way of connecting to those women who might know exactly how it feels to stare into a doctor’s eyes and try not to cry. Maybe someone out there (I just know it) knows how it feels to get angry with life, upset at her own body, and grief-stricken for a faceless, unborn child all at the same time. Maybe that woman has made it through. Maybe she’s still waiting. Maybe she has it MUCH worse than me and knows for a fact that she can’t bear children at all. Maybe she’s exactly where I’m at. I don’t know.

But in that moment, on the table, swallowing down tears, all I know is I felt alone.

All my life I’ve been able to do anything I set my mind to. But this one thing. This thing that a woman should be able to do. That one thing is going to be hard for me to do at best. I asked the doctor several times if it’s my fault or if I’ve done something to cause this. But he said women who have Endometriosis have had it since inside the womb. That was another dagger. All my life I’ve had this condition, this hindrance to bringing spirit children into the world, and I had no idea? Why me? Such a selfish question loaded with a million unanswerable components, but it still came to mind over and over.

But in the back of my mind, I kept reminding myself of the truthfulness of the gospel. The promises of the Lord. The loving ways of God.

I know I’m going to have children someday. I feel them and I already know their names (luckily Matt helped me with most and agreed on the ones I pre-planned 😉 )  I know that this is a trial that I was given to face and that there can be lessons in waiting. And that someday when I hold my baby–no matter if it’s a year from now or seven years from now–it’ll feel worth it.

But right now, my perspective doesn’t reach that far. I see the exam table. My pink toes dangling off it. My blurred vision because of tears. And my empty, unable-to-work-correctly stomach. But I’m trying to look beyond. There is a lesson in all things–an eternal principle I’m going to have to learn. Who knows? Maybe that lesson will be something I need to pass down to my children someday when they’re waiting for something they yearn for just as much as I yearned for them.

Questions, so many questions.

But for now, I find solace in my sweet husband who makes me laugh so the tears can dry, who genuinely knows that he’ll be a dad, and who reminds me that some blessings come soon and some come late, but they’ll always come (That statement was originally from this talk by Elder Holland by the way–he’s awesome) For now I find solace in my big family on both mine and Matt’s side, and my friends who comfort me from hundreds of miles away through texts and phone calls. I find solace in our blog, where I can connect with other sisters in waiting–or sisters who live lives filled with trials of their own, but they simply don’t give up.

I hope to be one of those.