I see you looking at me, wondering if she is still in there. I can feel you staring at me when you don't think I am paying attention. I always wonder if you are looking at my aging skin and dark circles under my eyes. Or if you notice the gray hairs starting to pop through. Maybe you're curious as to where my sense of adventure went or you're pondering why there are more days that I am tired than energized. I know you're wondering if she's still in there. Is the young vibrant girl who always made you laugh and gave you butterflies gone for good or is she tucked away in there somewhere, hiding so well that you fear she's gone forever?
I have to be honest: I sometimes wonder that, too. I feel her absence more now than ever. I feel stretched too thin and in many moments it feels like it may only take one more thing before I officially have a nervous breakdown. I look at myself in the mirror and hardly recognize the woman looking back at me. Where did my nice smooth skin go? How did my hair get so frizzy and how did these dark circles around my eyes appear (that no amount of concealer can fix)? I remember when I could roll out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face, throw on some old jeans, and feel okay going out in public. Long gone are those days. Now when I do that people ask me if I am sick or didn't sleep well. Either option would probably suffice.
So as you sit there looking my way, I ask you to remember this: those dark circles under my eyes, those are from being up at night with whichever child needed me most, and if they happen to have slept well, then chances are I was still up tossing and turning, while praying for God's protection over you and our children. When you fear that my adventurous spirit is gone forever, remember that for this season in life, adventures now look more like scavenger hunts and trying out a new playground, but that, too, will change in time. I know that date night may have gone from fancy dinners and movie theater viewings, to homemade dinner and Redbox movies. But I hope those dates are just as special to you, as they have become for me.
When you see me cry and break down out of feeling so overwhelmed, I ask that you still hug me and know that these tears and fears are only because I want what's best for us in life. Every single worry I have is because I love our family so much that sometimes it's hard not to worry about that being broken or suddenly stripped away.
I pray that if a younger, more beautiful woman looks your way, you remember that there's a wife at home who loves you more than you love yourself. Deep inside that wife is still a young girl who made life-long plans with you and that she's trusting you to hold up your side of the deal. I know some days it may feel as though that wife is lost among dirty dishes, cranky kids and piles of laundry, but I pray that you never forget that each dish she washes and each tear she wipes away, she does to make your little family as happy as possible. Remember that no matter how how many disagreements you may face, there is a woman there waiting for you to forgive her, or willing to forgive you. Because, the truth is, that young girl you fell in love with all those years ago, is standing right in front of you. She is still willing to live out life plans with you even if those plans may change continually along the way. She might be a little bossier, a little more irritable than she once was, and she may look different than she used to, but she loves you just the same.
So tonight as you look my way, I will wink back at you, letting you know not to worry, I promise, I am still here.