I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in our small bathroom in our one bedroom apartment in the early hours of July 4th. We had been married for three months, living blissfully with all of our secondhand furniture and hardly any money. I remember the conversations we had in the weeks before that morning, discussing how we wanted to be open to a plan we hadn’t really planned for. It was the morning I took my first positive pregnancy test.
Nearly four years later, and my husband and I are the parents to three boys at the age of 24. Don’t you know how this happens? Was this your plan? Yes, of course I know how this happens. And no, this was never my plan, but that surely doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. It may be hard to see through the craziness as an outsider: the tantrums, the never-ending interruptions, the crying. But the joys of getting to love and teach my little boys hold much more weight than the difficulties.
1. Having babies at an early age means I’ll be 42 when my youngest is 18. Maybe that means I’ll be a hot mom? The least of my worries. But it will mean that all the traveling I’m not doing right now can happen once my boys are out of the house. It means we’ll still be “young” and hopefully agile. It means that while our peers have 10 year olds and are dealing with never-ending after-school activities, my husband and I will be able to spend a lot of uninterrupted time together. And when you have three kids aged three and under, you pray on your knees that you can conquer the next 18 years gracefully (or just the next 18 hours).
2. My toddlers teach me about the gospel everyday. The gospel isn’t out of reach for anyone my age, and having kids doesn’t make it more applicable. But on days when I am tangled in the thick of my worries, my oldest son will bring me back to Jesus. He’ll forgive me quickly and easily when I’m angry. He loves fiercely and without reservations. He learns about Jesus and says to me, “Mom, Jesus is number one!” and I am reeled back into the grace of my Savior with those words, praying I can find the zeal he has. Some days I pray so I can keep my sanity, while other days I pray because these little boys remind me of how gracious God is.
3. Kids connect people. Everybody loves a funny story about your kid. They’re great conversation starters. They’re also great excuses for getting out of lame parties or weddings. But when it comes to connecting with others, especially young, newly married couples, it can be awkward and uncomfortable. So sometimes it’s easier to fill in that weird silence with a funny story about that one time my 20 month old decided to wield a bread knife (which is a true story). Granted, I don’t only talk about my boys. But they sure do serve as a gateway to connecting with others when the task feels daunting.
Being young and having three boys is insane, tiring, surprising, messy…it is a lot. It is good. It is a glorious work that I am grateful I was chosen to do. And if I had the choice? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Parenthood in my early 20s has been everything I wasn’t expecting. And frankly, I think that’s the best part.