“If you take care of things, they’ll take care of you.”
My dad said this phrase a lot growing up. He, of course, wanted to teach his children responsibility. Dad wanted us to do simple things. Untie our shoes to avoid wearing them down when we put them on. Change the oil on the cars to keep them running strong. Handle the dishes carefully. He wanted us to understand when you treat things well in small ways, they’ll last. They’ll take care of you in bigger ways.
As we wrap up 2023, I realize this phrase has been the theme of my year. Joshua and I started this year fully intending to wait to conceive our next child, renew our rental lease. March 5th changed all of that. I was feeling unusually tired and nauseous that day. I still remember, around 6PM, telling him I wanted to take a pregnancy test to “rule it out.” The two lines shocked me. I stood over the test for a minute or two before I could move. When I brought it to Joshua, unable to speak, laughing nervously, he gave me the biggest hug he’s ever given. We called our parents that night, so surprised we needed to share the news to hear their “congratulations!” and help us believe it was happening.
Because I was still nursing our then 9-month-old son, we didn’t know exactly when I got pregnant. Thanks to fertility charting, we had a couple guesses. We did not confirm how far along we were until 3 weeks later, when we had our first ultrasound. I remember when the technician turned it on, I just said, “that baby is huge!” I already knew I was farther than 8 weeks, like we had predicted. The tech confirmed I was at 13 weeks and 3 days, and due on October 1st. Shortly after, we share the news with our siblings and close friends.
Our plans for a house had to change. We couldn’t fit two kiddos in our townhouse comfortably. By the grace of God, we were able to buy a house, repaint and re-carpet it, and move in just after our Peter’s first birthday. Our friends in Lubbock helped us paint it ourselves and move everything in, all while juggling a one-year-old at 5 months pregnant.
Take care of people, and they can take care of you.
As my pregnancy progressed and Peter became more active, I started to wonder how I would survive. There were so many days I woke up and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” Complications began around 30 weeks, and I worried my baby girl would not be delivered safely. The crushing blow came at 38 weeks. I went into early labor, only to have it abruptly stop at 2AM after laboring 5 hours at a birth center.
I had friends who volunteered to care for Peter so I could nap. They watched him while I went to my midwife appointments. My best friends were with us when I went into labor, made sure Josh and I both ate and took Peter off our hands. They made us meals for two weeks after I gave birth. Our friends took care of me when I truly did not know how I would survive. They kept taking care of us so we could enjoy our new baby.
Because they took care of me, I’ve been able to take care of them. My two closest friends went through some hard time after Cecilia was born. One of them struggled with a horrible season of anxiety and personal difficulty. The other was so buried in grad school work she was barely eating or sleeping. They took care of me, and I was able to take care of them. I could comfort and counsel them through their struggles and make them meals right back.
This year has been… unbelievable. I cannot believe the challenges and blessings God has given my family. But I am not ending this 2023 exhausted or broken from the struggles, even as I continue recovering from labor and postpartum. I am ending the year able to care for others because they took care of me. I am able to pour out because others filled me up.
When we take care of others, they can take care of us. We can pour out and receive it right back. Friendships of virtue are fountains that recycle the water, out and in, over and over again. So, as we end 2023, I am grateful for the care my friends have given me. I am grateful I can keep giving it back.