Has it ever struck you, suddenly, or even gradually for that matter, that this isn’t how you imagined it?

Maybe it’s so much better.  Maybe it’s not at all what you expected with negative elements.

Maybe it’s everything, the good and the bad, all wrapped up in one exquisite package.

I didn’t picture myself at 26 in graduate school, though I came to realize that’s what I would be doing and where I’d be at.

I didn’t expect to have two Labradors, one the result of a burning desire to have a beautiful dog, a faithful companion, the other an almost-hasty decision to give my first dog someone to be with during the day and out on hikes.  No one told me that I’d look upon the other dog with almost complete regret but with such tenderness and love.  But then no one told me that our struggle for training said second dog would result in a connection that reflects the first.

I didn’t expect to be in a relationship with a man with a child.  The way in which I am racked with guilt sometimes takes my breath away, that I fall victim to the real or imagined judgments of others – and that’s the thing that is true – whether real or imagined, the person’s perception makes it real, and that’s good enough to talk about.  But then the little one will put his arms around my neck, or grab my hand at a random moment, and my heart swells with joy and I know that I belong to something stronger than any perceived judgment:  I belong to a family.  And we love each other.  We have good days.  We have bad days.  And we each support the other in various ways.  And all I know is that even though I breathe a sigh of relief about having a moment of calm, of thinking space all to myself, when he leaves for his other parental unit there is an ache in my chest that reminds me that I didn’t expect it, but just because I didn’t expect it doesn’t mean I don’t want it.  I want it.  And I have it.

I didn’t expect that.

"You popped my heart seams
All of my bubble dreams, bubble dreams
And I know that it's complicated
But I'm a loser in love, so baby
Raise a glass to mend
All the broken hearts
Of all my wrecked up friends"

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