Yesterday I packed the girls up and headed the 20ish miles from our home to Brent's parents' home. Brent stayed at our house to finish preparing a sermon he was to preach Sunday as a fill in for a little country church near us. I was giving the girls time with their wonderful grandparents, and giving Brent a little peace and quiet.
Our little girls' trip included supper, with green beans fresh from the garden, book reading, pretend swimming on the living room floor, and some splash baths before heading home.
As I walked out to the van, girls and a bag of leftovers and garden veggies in tow, I breathed in deeply. I wanted to smell the familiarity of this family-- a family that was once not mine but now felt like flesh and blood, my mother-in-law's kisses fresh on my cheek. I wanted to experience the sticky, sweet humidity in the summer air as the sun faded over the pasture where I'd had bonfires, laughing with friends into the twilit evenings of fall. As I drove home, answering my two-year old's questions about the corn fields and cows and moon and cars and songs and her toes, I glanced in my review mirror.
There they were, my babies and my memories.
For the past ten years I've been driving that pot-holed, two lane road. Ten years ago I sat in the small front seat of a red Ford escort, the touch of his lips still warm on my own, my heart beating wildly in my 18 year old chest. I raced the darkness home, trying to squeeze in the driveway right at curfew, rarely making the cut but always worth the extra ten minutes I'd spent in his embrace.
I drove away from a boy who made me giggle and feel beautiful; a boy who I ached for in his absence. I drove away from a family I was growing to know and love, back to a family who was watching me fall in love, hoping they'd taught me all I needed to know before the inevitability of our marriage happened.
In those days, as I cut through the country roads, lit by summer's stars and tractors' headlights, I was exhilarated with a fresh and exciting kind of new love, exhausted from the late nights of dating and staying up late dreaming and reliving each moment.
And last night, as I travelled those same curves and bends, saw the same fields that had been harvested nearly a dozen times since that little girl I used to be sped past them, I looked in my review mirror and realized I was still exhilarated with a fresh and exciting kind of new love. But I also carried with me the quieter, trusted love of that boy who became a man with me over the years. And I realized I was still exhausted from late nights of rocking babies and waking early to feed them breakfast.
Last night I drove away from in-laws that have become grandparents to my girls; from a family that has become my family. Last night I drove away from a small town to another small town that has become my home all over again in new ways as I raise my own family within its borders.
Last night I realized I've traded my cute little escort for a mini-van. I've traded fresh, young love for a deeper, quieter love. I've gained family. I've made family.
Last night I took a moment, and that moment filled with years of moments.
And that moment reminded me that this life ebbs and flows in and out of little and big things, messy and beautiful things, difficult and easy things. But most of all it gives us people to love through it all.
And when you aren't looking your review mirror gets kind of filled up with lots of love if you let it.