You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone, they say.
But I’m an editor, and I’d like to reconstruct that sentiment a bit:
Really, you don’t.
You can spend your whole life looking for a thing, and tell yourself you know exactly what you’re searching for. But honestly, you have no idea — not until you find it.
You can tell yourself you’re looking to get in shape, for example, and you think you know exactly what that means. But until you get there, you don’t really understand what that looks like for you.
Other people can tell you all day long how amazing it feels to kick ass at the gym or to nail your meal prep for a whole week, but that doesn’t mean anything to you personally. Not really.
Until you’ve found it for yourself, you don’t really know what you’ve been missing, or if you’ve been missing anything at all.
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Or you can tell yourself you’re looking to write a book, and you think you know what that means. But until you do it, you don’t really understand it.
Other authors can tell you all day long, in podcasts or articles or speaking events, how much work it takes and how euphoric it feels to hit the New York Times best-seller list. And that’s great.
But until you reach that goal yourself, you don’t really know what you’ve been missing.
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One more example:
You can tell yourself you’re looking to find your soulmate and start a family, and you think you know what that means. But until you find it, you don’t really understand what that looks like for you.
Other friends, books, movies can tell you all day long how much it’ll change your life. But that doesn’t begin to prepare you for the real thing.
Once you’ve found your person for yourself, that’s when you’ll begin to understand what you’ve been missing.
… And if that person, say, comes with two kids tagging along, well, that’s a whole new level of unexpected. You definitely didn’t know you were missing that til you found it.
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Two years ago this weekend, I began to understand what I’d been missing. Yep, that’s when my husband and I got married, and I (officially) became a wife and stepmom for the first time.
(Happy Anniversary, my love!)
I thought I knew what to expect. I mean, I grew up like most girls, inundated with love stories and romances and happily-ever-afters since childhood. I knew the drill. This was what I’d been searching for, right?
- ✓ candlelit dinners
- ✓ long walks on the beach
- ✓ butterflies in my stomach
- ✓ being swept off my feet
That’s what I’d been looking for.
But until I found my person and his kiddos, I didn’t know how much more than that I’d been missing.
Someone who can make reheated leftovers seem no less awesome than some fancy dinner by candlelight.
Someone with whom a long walk around the grocery store is as much fun as on that beach.
Someone I don’t have to pretend around, where I can be myself (which is infinitely better than those annoying butterflies).
Someone who can sweep me off my feet, but who often lets me stand on my own, and encourages me that I’m enough as I am.
I wasn’t looking for that. But that’s what I found.
And then, there were the two little faces that came along with him. I definitely didn’t know my life was missing them til I found them.
Two little faces that look slightly less little with each passing year (until one of them is actually taller than me, so help me God).
Faces that bring me joy when they’re happy (and also infinite stress when they’re not).
Faces whose futures give me pause, and hope, and fear, and excitement all bundled into one.
Faces whose successes make me proud, and whose struggles offer me challenges.
Faces that make me question everything I thought I knew about myself, while also showing me that maybe I’m not entirely terrible at this being-an-adult thing after all.
Two years ago, I became stepmom to those Faces, and a wife to that Someone.
I didn’t know what I was missing, but I think now I’m at least starting to understand.
Originally published in The Herald News on May 19, 2019.