Where All Points Meet

When I was in college, there was this phenomena that sometimes occurred when the lessons from one class aligned so closely with what I was studying in another that the big picture of life and history nearly knocked me over in its grandeur. It was often during those moments when I felt encompassed by authentic learning and growth. Things were clicking.

One fall I was taking both a medieval history course and an early church history course. The general history course offered a skeleton of my understanding of European culture during that time, and the religion course – taught by a Christian Brother whose enthusiasm and love for his field was happily married to his depth of knowledge of it – filled in those gaps, providing muscles and organs and human longing to that frame. Masses of people were given faces, and theologians and apostles weren’t just the figures pictured in stained glass windows. They were the bodies who left behind families and believers when they were burned at the stake. They were ashes and marble at the same time.

At that time of my study, I felt like all was coming together, that my understanding of the pulsating rhythms of the world was given real depth and meaning simply because I inadvertently took those two classes at the same time. Offhand choices I had made the semester before to take two seemingly unconnected courses suddenly had weight because of that auspicious overlap.

It was like the world was reminding me that everything counted, that the connections were held together with invisible gossamer.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been subconsciously hunting for answers to questions I didn’t even know I was asking, but for the past couple weeks I’ve been feeling like the worlds I inhabit are suddenly shining light on each other, making things clearer and more manageable for me. There is a lot going on in my life right now that I could be overwhelmed with: taking my writing to the next level, moving this year, being a parent who not only knows myself but also knows my child well enough that I can provide for her emotionally and spiritually.

And marriage. Oh Lord, my marriage. Nearly two years into being a parent, it’s become suddenly very clear how very granted I’ve been taking my relationship with my husband. I see him everyday, but I still miss him. I miss who we were. I want to revisit the relationship we had before a kid, but I know that that isn’t possible.

Life is comprised of so many moving parts, and if you were to draw lines tracing the paths that all those elements took, you’d see a chaotic scribble, a knot that can’t be untied. It would look like those diagrams in the back of airline magazines where all the airline’s routes are traced in different colors.

How do those planes avoid crashing?

There’s a graceful art to all this chaos. So much is moving around me, and I am someone different to all who know me.

Mother.

Wife.

Daughter.

Friend.

Writer.

Life aligns occasionally and all those roles are suddenly in sync. I’m always just me, the place where all things meet.

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52 comments

  1. What a wonderful analogy. We do indeed play many roles. Sometimes they come together, sometimes they’re at odds. But they certainly make life more interesting. (Even if they do stress us out from time to time…)

    1. They really do! I keep trying to convince myself that what won’t kill me will surely make me stronger. Or at least less-susceptible to the common cold ;)

  2. One thing about relationships is that you have the chance to grow together. You never lose the person you were ‘before’, but use it as a basis for the person you are now, and who you are now becomes the foundation of who you will become. If you have someone by your side to share this, life can be wonderful.

    1. That’s really true. I’ve known my husband for 1/3 of my entire life, and while we have certainly grown together, I often feel nostalgic for the couple we were when we were still basically kids ourselves and didn’t have nearly the responsibilities we have now. We were different versions of the people we are now. Sometimes I miss that. But that said, I know that years from now, I will look back on now and yearn for it.

      1. Very true. This year, Hubby and I have been together 25 years (married 23), and he can still surprise me.

  3. And you are definitely more than just the sum of your different parts.

    1. I didn’t even mention that I’m really good at cooking tofu.

      1. …annnnd then you lost points. ;)

        1. I will make a believer out of you.

          1. *scrunches up face, clenches mouth, shakes head vigorously*

  4. Uh-oh, if we were better friends and we were exploring these words together, I’d be asking about marriage and why the word “lover” doesn’t appear as one of your components.

    As one who has ‘been through it all’ in marriage, I would argue that you are incorrect about not being able to get back to the euphoric state BC (before children). Food for thought kiddo – my marriage is possibly more exciting today than it’s ever been….don’t ever lose sight of trying to be boyfriend and girlfriend for if you do, it can turn into a cyclone.

    Loved the post – wish I could write this eloquently. I’m more like the nerd on Ghostbusters – Who does your taxes?

    1. If you’re Rick Moranis, can I be Bill Murray? Or Slimer. I call Slimer.

      Thanks for your encouragement, Rob. As you know, life with small kids requires a recalibration of every relationship you hold dear. It’s something we’re navigating and definitely learning from. ;)

      1. I am more like Rick “Moron”is

  5. I wonder if there are ways you might be able to honor your relationship before being parents, while maybe mourning it at the same time?
    This makes me think about me trying to be in the present as much as possible before this baby is born. So hard to do that while planning for the future at the same time. How did you do it?

    1. In a way, I don’t really know if you *can* do it. Preparing mentally and spiritually for a baby reminds me of when you’re sitting with you friend listening to music that they really love and being told, “Oh, wait, just LISTEN to this part! Wasn’t that great? Didn’t it hit you on the gut level that it just hit me?!” It’s frustrating because you don’t really have the background with the music; you didn’t have your first kiss to it, you didn’t get drunk to it and then dance around in your underwear, its lyrics didn’t speak deeply to you when you were going through an emotional time. When I look back on when I was preparing for C, I remember knowing in my brain that it was an important time for me to savor because everything was about to change. But I didn’t know what the music sounded like yet. I had nothing else to compare it to. Does that even make sense? I’m getting a little rambly ;)

      1. That makes total sense. I think I am finding the same thing so far.

  6. After the post and the comments, I don’t think that getting back to what the marriage was BC is what I’d ever want. Becoming parents together changed our relationship, yes, but it also changed us as people, and I like who I see. There are great aspects to our relationship now that simply would never have existed without kids. Granted, I don’t think I saw any of that while muddling my way through toddler-hood, but when you are beyond some of the chaos you will begin to see things that deepen the relationship. Enjoy it for what it is – be present in that relationship – with all the changes (morphs?) and it’s all good.

    I once heard a very gifted speaker say, “You marry six people – because everyone changes over time.” I started telling young couples that awhile ago. It’s proven true in my marriage (27 years this March) and I’ve seen it prove true in many others. Embrace the changes (growth) in yourself and your husband, that’s the ticket.

    1. That is absolutely WONDERFUL advice. My husband and I will have been together ten years (and married for eight) this summer, and sometimes I wish I could go back in time and be a fly on the wall during our first encounters when we were in school together. I’d recognize those two people as being essentially *us*, but they would certainly be different versions of us. And definitely a lot skinnier ;)

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. You’ve given me a lot to mull over in my brain ;D

  7. If you’re here then where am I??

    1. Maybe in the atrium of Target? I’ll meet you by the snack bar.

      1. Sweet! Nachos…

  8. So what you’re saying is it’s okay to have split personalities… sweet! Can’t wait to tell the other girls, and Bob.

    1. Yes it is! Tell Bob to mind his manners.

  9. I loved everything about this. I could feel myself getting excited when you talked about your education intersecting, because I remember getting jazzed when that happened. I think it was those moments that really drove me to be a teacher. And when I was teaching, I was always collaborating with my colleagues in other subject areas to make my class as interdisciplinary as possible. Because life makes more sense when you can see the harmony in things…not just in your studies, but as you say, in life in general. It feels good when all those things come together.

    GREAT post!

    1. THIS is why you are such an awesome teacher, Kels. That and the fact that you probably kept monkeys in your desk.

      Tell me that you kept monkeys in your desk. Please. This is a very important part of my made-up image of you.

      1. Well, no monkeys in my desk BUT I did have a picture of THE Monkees as my desktop background on my school laptop, and every time I hooked it up to the smartboard projector, my students got treated to a little 60′s style sexiness. Aw yeah. I also would hide AND I also had a bust of Elvis’ head sculpted in the fashion of ancient Roman art, since I taught Mythology. And I always had candy in my desk. Usually Tootsie Rolls

  10. I’m glad your multiple personalities are converging. It’s a wonderful feeling when everything comes together, and you don’t feel like all your responsibilities are pulling you apart. I’m on the more divergent end of the spectrum lately, but I’m hoping to come back to the happy place soon.

    1. Is is SUCH a good feeling. It’s these short windows of clarity that keep me going when everything seems to be crashing around beside me. You’ll hit that stride again too, Katie.

  11. Beautiful. Recently my husband and I were sitting on the couch together, eating ice cream, drinking a beer and watching an old episode of Six Feet Under. We were joking around about how lovely it was to be married before 8 pm again now that our children know how to go to bed peacefully at 7:15 pm and stay there until 7 am. That moment, lacing my fingers in his while enjoying guilty pleasures and laughing, was unimaginable even 7 months ago. Life and balance gets better, I promise

    1. You nailed why it is just so wonderful being a parent: even when things are hard and you feel like you’re falling into the doldrums once again, everyone grows up. Even you, as the adult ;)

  12. Mary Cargill · · Reply

    Emily, this is the most interesting, insightful entry I’ve read so far from your blog. I sent it to my daughter-in-law and my son who are awaiting the birth of their second child who was due the 6th. I believe that the convergence of the two courses was no accident. Less and less do I believe in coincidence.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Wow, thank you so much! I agree about coincidences. Everything’s connected, and it’s our duty to look for the circuits that link us. Praying for a speedy and safe delivery!

  13. I am laughing now because I *just* (and I mean just – if it was hand written, it would still smell from the White Out) finished writing a personal essay for a treatment center newsletter on marriage and recovery, having been in both. Still am. And there are many parallels to what you write here and what I wrote there.

    If I may, can I share what I wrote here concering your wonderful post? (you didn’t answer, so gonna go ahead…lol)

    “Our marriage is based on full honesty, devotion, patience, understanding and respect – things that I wasn’t able to give way back when. We have learned to walk hand-in-hand through the rough patches and to celebrate the fun times. We’ve been able to come to a maturity in our marriage that we only dreamed of before everything came crumbling down. I have come to learn that it’s not just about coming back to an old marriage, but it’s about creating a new one. Coming back meant doing work, and continuing to work at it. It’s a brand new marriage. And if that’s the case, we’re still newlyweds.”

    and

    “That wedding picture now sits in our living room. A bit faded, a bit ragged at the edges, but there is still that bright light that shines from our eyes. Those eyes still shine bright today. But with the knowledge that we come from authentic places, and all pretence and pain dropped and washed away. ”

    We are where we are now for a reason. We age, grow, and interlace like vines on the side of the house. I can never be the sapling again, nor would I want to be. Where I am at now, hell, I’ll take that any day. The crazy days my wife and I had were there for a reason. We lived in those moments and we live today in our moments today. I see those old couples holding hands on the street and just can’t wait to be one of those. But I have today…son, father, brother, uncle, etc…and I work with it and love it. Even when I don’t love it…ha ha.

    All these things converge and dance about, don’t they? That’s the beauty of it all, my friend. You’re still dancing…so might as well make it the funky chicken. Have fun with it here and now.

    wonderful post

    Paul

    1. That was absolutely beautiful, Paul, and so true. Relationships are living, breathing things and must be nurtured in order for them to continue to be healthy and real. You and your wife are very lucky to have one another (but I bet you know that ;D)

  14. Love this. And, I also love when I feel like things just come together how they were meant to. I hope they continue that way!!

    1. Me too! I’m sure there will be some hiccups along the way, but I always like to believe that the moments when I feel most lost are also the moments when I am learning the most.

  15. What I took away form this is that you seem to have some exciting new things on the horizon, which is so cool! I can’t wait to see what you do next with writing, your talent deserves to be seen and recognized on an even larger scale!

    1. We do have some interesting things on the horizon! I may not know exactly what they are yet, but I can sense them coming ;D Thanks, Gretchen!

  16. I love those moments of clarity! I wish they happened more often!

    Even when it’s just a flash of understanding, the clarity gives us purpose and energy to move on during the tough times. It makes us grateful for what we had in the past and makes us gracious in the present.

    So glad you had that moment and I look forward to my next one! : )

    Thanks for the post.

    Melissa

    1. And boy howdy, I have a LOT of tough times. Or maybe I just *perceive* them to be tough. I’m so grateful that these moments of clarity exist because they help me take myself less seriously and recognize that life isn’t as scary as I often make it out to be.

      Thanks, Melissa!

  17. What a wonderful post, Emily! I’ve been longing for that feeling you describe. I’ve been thinking back to my studies and these feelings you so aptly describe here of things just interlacing and clicking and I’ve been totally overwhelmed with life wishing for the same without seeing the parallels.

    1. Sometimes it is so incredibly hard to see those parallels. I can personally go a long time feeling like I’m just wandering down an unlit hallway looking for a door that may or may not be there. But then, occasionally and when I most need it, someone turns on the lights.

  18. Beautiful post – I love it when life does that ~

    1. I do too! I needed the world to remind me that it is keeping it’s eye on me (in a nice, non-NSAish way.)

  19. Sounds like we are in similar mindset lately. I think that in various stages of our lives as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, women– we assess and reassess. The roles are hard to juggle, as they require such different parts of ourselves. Mother and wife are VERY different. Sister and mother, daughter and wife, they cross and mix, but they all require different aspects of who you are. I find that at 50, I am looking back on and reassessing so many of these roles, over time. It is very humbling and at times distressing. Beautiful post, Emily.

    1. I was just reading the other day that your life when you are a parent to a young child is actually very similar to your life when your children are teens and young adults, and I couldn’t help but think of you, Dawn. There’s so much uncertainty and a lot of chaos (not to mention the fact that they can go from loving you one moment to hating you the next!) I’ve got a lot to learn, and you are a wonderful example.

      1. You flatter me, darlin’… it is challenging at every single stage. The challenges might change, but they remain hard regardless. I never would argue that one is phase is harder or easier. It’s all relative! :-p

  20. Sometimes when I’m running back and forth between all the plates I have spinning in the air, like that guy on the old Ed Sullivan shows, it seems like everything is separate. They all require their own turn at a spin, independent of one another, or else they’ll crash. But you’re right – the common denominator is ME. It’s all my stuff and my job to figure out how to mesh it together.

    Without me, Ed’s got no show.

    1. I think The Beatles were likely just your opening act, Peg ;)

  21. Deanna Herrmann · · Reply

    I loved your analogies in this and how you tied it all together in the end. It was beautifully written and definitely spoke to me on many levels. You know that I’ve suddenly been spreading my wings and because of that, I’ve seen both parallels and new dreams in my mind. I also could really relate because our children are so close in age and so many times I miss my husband too. Somedays I miss the people we were, but the bond between us only grows stronger. I’m sure you know what I mean. :-)

  22. There has never been a time when my husband wasn’t my best friend. When our daughter came along, the circle simply expanded, like a rubber band, to make her a part of it and it grew a bit more with the arrival of our son. The band holds you all together; when the kids are grown and gone it springs back to snug just you and your best friend again. (Believe it, from someone who just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary)

  23. Emily what a lovely post, and what lovely responses you have had! I love that you are so aware of all the many places where you are right now, and that you are loved in all of them. That’s what we all have to strive for.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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