“A harder life isn’t necessarily a better one,” my dad said, sitting in the diner one Sunday after church. We had been discussing my upcoming marriage. I was trying to explain to him that I knew what I was doing, that even though Chris had serious emotional baggage, that I was capable, up for the job of being his wife and mother to our as yet unborn daughter. I was eighteen at the time. Eighteen year olds are that blessed mix of being so sure and so unsure simultaneously.
What my parents were offering as an alternative was an easier life, no doubt. They were more than willing to have me live at home with them and the baby, finish college, and wait and see if Chris and I would work out as a couple, since we had only been dating for less than a year. All of their options made infinitely more sense than me signing up for the whole package, wife and mother all at once. I understood what Dad was saying, I knew he wanted what was best for me. And yet, there was always that side to me, the side who looked at the two sets of monkey bars on the playground, the lower placed rings which I already knew I could conquer and had during recess, and the higher rings that were more spaced out and therefore more difficult but, oh man, when you swung from one ring to another, you had to gather up your momentum and really stretch your arm out so far and so fast that it hurt all the muscles in there but it almost felt like flying, at least close enough, and wasn’t the only flying dream I ever had set in that very playground? Those rings were what I wanted to try. Even though, yes, I’d fallen more times than I could count, gotten gravel and dirt stuck in my knees and sometimes my hands burned so much but I loved those rings in a way that was almost wrong.