I always dreamed we'd have a treehouse in the yard. When the babies were still babies, I had a whole collection of pictures and ideas dedicated to brainstorming its perfect form.
We never got farther than some pegs drilled into the trunk of the front tree to make for easier climbing and four swings hanging from its thick branches. But that tree in all its simpleness has become a cornerstone of my children's childhood.
Instead, growing a business and supporting our family has meant boots on the ground right where we are. But staying put has allowed us to build friendships that have become family with our neighbors.
I always envisioned an ever tidy house, ready for unexpected company at any moment.
Despite constantly striving, I've never gotten there. But when I look at pictures of times I remember being really hard on myself about it, I see warm happy faces and smiling kids.
I thought somehow I'd figure out this unicorn of balance between being present and home with the kids, while also crushing 'professional' goals.
Turns out that path is a bumpy one and I feel like I'm forever falling off the tightrope. But when I let myself really look, I can see how I'm always growing - even through times I just refused to give myself credit.
I used to think we'd raise our kids in the country. That there'd be woods and a creek and lots of quiet.
We have kids who thrive on community though, and love being part of sports teams that keep them active and connected. But we love whooping it up and cheering from sidelines with other families that make us feel like this town is home.
I pictured easy conversations around the dinner table, and kids who always got along.
We've had to put in a lot of work on sibling dynamics. It's taken far more time and effort than I could have imagined. But I think we're raising kids who will be well practiced and coached in navigating the complexities of relationships, and that means everything to my heart.
Life doesn't go as we planned, as we imagined, as we maybe thought it should. It's hard and the road is full of obstacles. Sometimes we swerve, sometimes we fall down and have to figure out getting back up, sometimes it takes longer than we expected to walk through the weeds.
But we're out here doing the best that we can each day. And the best that we can involves so.much.love. It's driven by love and it never gives up because of the love.
All that love adds up. And it means we're growing something so beautiful in the process, right in the middle of our messy imperfect journey.
Eventually we realize, we'd rather focus less on exactly what it all looks like, and more on what it feels like.
And this life, the one that might not be the perfect picture of what I naively imagined years ago,
it's a good one.