Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Calling

When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. 

 I met John when I interviewed him for a job, and he told me that very day that we would get married. I thought he was crazy, loco, and did my best to avoid him, but he was tenacious. He didn't care that my high school boyfriend had given me a train load of baggage... in his head, it didn't really matter that I was reticent. We were going to be together. 

It took a month before I caved. We went on our first date to Red Lobster, and that, as they say, was that. Not that we didn't have our ups and downs, but we've basically been together ever since. When I called my mom to tell her about him, I told her he was the kindest guy I'd met, and that was true. He would (and still does!) bend over backward for anyone, anywhere. About two weeks after we'd started dating, I had to move out of my apartment and into another, and he did it all, singlehandedly, while I was at work one day. Not long after that, my mom flew into the airport to visit me and I couldn't get out of the store, so he drove 2 1/2 hours to pick her up, even though he'd never met her, and he made conversation with his girlfriends mom the whole ride home. He went out in the middle of the night to wait in line for the newest Harry Potter book. He was attentive, sweet, and a great guitar it any wonder that before I knew it, we were eloping while on vacation in Florida?

When I got pregnant, it scared us both to death. We were 21. What the crap was I supposed to do with a baby? John and I were both retail workers AND college students...we worked insane hours, and liked it that way. What if I didn't like the baby? What if the baby didn't like me? What if I read the wrong books, not enough books, too many books, and screwed the baby up? My mom lived across the country from me.  I was pregnant, and I was a mess. No one I knew was having babies...while John and I knew we wanted babies theoretically, in practice it freaked us right out. We had only known each other a couple years, and been married an even shorter time. We were just beginning to get used to living together, after having spent over a year at colleges hours away from one another. Something had to give.

We moved to Florida 5 years ago, in the spring of 2004. I went from being a student in college and the store manager of an extremely popular and busy store in the mall with 80+ employees to being on my own, all day every day, pregnant and terrified of what exactly would be coming out of my stomach on September 11, my due date. Would it be a girl as fickle as me? A boy as absentminded as John? A hermaphrodite (I tend to focus on ridiculous fears)? What would the baby look like? I wasn't even sure I wanted kids. I was pretty certain I didn't want kids this shuttled down to Florida on modified bedrest, living with my mom so she could take care of me while John finished working at his job packed up our apartment in Indiana to join me.

It was a long summer. I was on my own, thinking and eating, eating and thinking, then, without fail, throwing up what I ate. I gained a total of 15 pounds. I missed my friends, I missed my life, and no matter how much I talked, John could not grasp the concept of growing a life inside your body...I couldn't really, and it was happening to me. 

I was drifting, feeling completely without ties in the world. I had friends, I had John, I had my mom, but I was lost. I had always been okay at things...never great. I was never coordinated enough to be the most athletic, never witty enough to be the funniest, never well studied enough to be the most informed or deepest. I coasted through high school and college, bored out of my mind and unwilling to work hard, happy to get the minimum grade necessary to pass. I was lazy. I wasn't positive what the point of life was. What was I even here for? I knew it wasn't to work 18 hour days for a clothing store, or go to school for the rest of my life.

The day I was due to be induced, we stopped at McDonalds on our way into the hospital, for our last pre baby meal. When we arrived at the hospital, they hooked me up to the monitors and found that I was already contracting, unbeknownst to me. The nurse said it to me like it was an accomplishment...I was doing something right, I could tell. 

Eight hours later, Avelyn Monet was born. As I was pushing, John almost passed out, even though he was standing as far away from the danger zone as possible. He perched gingerly on the bedside table, studiously looking anywhere but where the baby was heading on out. She was born after only ten minutes of pushing, and when the nurse offered her to me, caked in vernix, I asked them to please clean her up first. While they were doing that, they all exclaimed about how efficiently I'd pushed her out, how quickly, especially considering I was a first timer. I had done something right, again. Even before they handed her to me, I began to feel a warm feeling welling up inside me. Even though I didn't know what I was doing, I was doing it right. 

As they handed her to me and John stood, whispering in my ear, telling me how well I'd done, it hit me. 

This was it. She was it. My reason, my calling, the point of it all. I felt grounded and connected in a way I'd never felt before. I had a calling, to raise this little girl up to be a good person, to hug her when she was sad and kiss her boos and teach her to go the right way. There was a point to it all!

When John held her for the first time, I could tell he felt it too. She was our reason, pulling us together, pushing us toward God and our Faith in a way nothing else ever had. A reason to believe. 

Ava turned 4 1/2 yesterday (I'm a dork...I love half birthdays), and in those years she has never stopped being that light, that reason to us. As a baby, she just drew us to her, strengthened our union in our love for her. As a toddler, she made us laugh each and every day. And now, as she finishes her last year of preschool before she heads off to big bad kindergarten, she challenges us in ways I never expected. She is extremely sensitive...she mirrors the mood of the room effortlessly, doing her best to keep everyone on an even keel,  and she has a stronger faith in God than many adults I've seen. There is not a day that goes by that she doesn't astound me with her innate knowledge of right and wrong, of God's love for all of us. 

I wasn't ready for her, but she was the best thing that has ever happened to me. She has challenged me to grow and think in ways I never though possible. She has inspired John and I to transform ourselves from a couple who loves each other and God to a couple who loves God and each other. She changed me from a person who had no real calling to a person who has the most important calling there is...that of being a mother, and, finally, of finding what I am really good at. 

I love you, Baby Girl. 

What about you? What's your calling?


ShadowKazuni said...

What a beautiful's amazing to see how God can take us, and all our ordinary pieces, and turn us into something really special. We are all blessed with gifts; so glad Ava helped you find yours. I'm sure you are a wonderful mother!

Nati @ I will praise Him said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful story!!!! God knew you'd be ready for her. And I bet you are a wonderful Mom!

Happy 4 1/2 Birthday, Ava!

Taking Heart said...

Well said. That was a very inspiring entry. what it pulled out of me was to remeber my three little darling callings. I exist for Chist alone... and they exist for calling is to love them like He loves me.

Anonymous said...

Also, when I was reading the beginning, about John, I was instantly reminded of my first trip down there after Ava was born - when I went to the hospital. When he was sweeter to me and to my mom (who he'd never met, and truly had no reason to "impress") than anyone else could have been. His compassion for others and his kindness always astound me.

~Melissa~ said...

I just found your blog through MckMama's link. I've only read a few posts (I really need to get off this computer and get kids ready this morning), but I just had to say that I know exactly how you feel when you had your firstborn. I always say that I never knew that I wanted children until I had them. I had a similar experience after my firstborn--suddenly, everything made sense...motherhood is what God wanted for me and my job is to raise these little ones to be servants in His kingdom. Blessings to you!

Mommy3 said...

Your story could have been mine! I had my little girl, Isabel, when I was 20 years old (3 months before my 21st birthday). My husband and I had only been married 3 months when we found out! He was in the Marines training and I was in college! But everything happens for a reason and God knew what he was doing when he gave us our amazing little girl! Since then we've had our little boy too as you know as I just HAD to give her a sibling! :) Motherhood is definitely my calling too!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it.

Angela said...

Wow I just loved your story! I love her name esp Monet!

Mandy Hornbuckle said...

I really loved this story. Gives me hope about maybe actually being a good mom someday.

Ace said...

Great story. So touching.

4 Lettre Words said...

Such a beautiful story, Ellyn. And, I always say that a baby (no matter the circumstance) should compliment the union.

You and I are so different, and yet so much alike! That means there is opportunity for loving and learning!!

E @ Scottsville said...

Awwww, El you need to print that out and put it in her baby book so she'll have it forever. Beautifully written. =0)

I too was called to be a MOMMY! I just knew it already at age 5. I have a drawing that I did of me and "What I want to be when I grow up" back in Kindergarten. It is a pretty good drawing of a PREGNANT woman pushing a baby in a stroller through the park. I knew way back then. =0)

Just His Best said...

Beautiful and well written. Thank you for sharing. Motherhood is such a journey isn't it? I've grown more in the past 5 1/2 years of my life than ever before.

I would say personally my calling this year has been to take the next step as my husband and I decided to home educate our children. I began in the fall and as nervous as I was in the beginning, I am so glad and blessed to know that I have this awesome option. It's just getting good and the thought of someone else enjoying 40 hours of the week with them just seems criminal! :)

It's the daily walk, struggle, frustration, joy, and plain 'ol real life with my family that I just don't want to miss.

Sonya said...

beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the day my daughter was born. :)

Madison Sanders said...

That was a touching story. Thanks for sharing.

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