I am holding my infant son just before his bedtime while my three year old daughter lays nearby, awake but sleepy.

When I was ‘playing house’ with my dolls in a wooden play house that my dad built, all I wanted was to be here, to have this.

When I was in junior high making big plans with my best friend, dreaming of how old we would be when we got engaged, got married, and started families, as if it might be so easy, all I wanted was this.

When I was in high school, babysitting for a two-year-old and a four-year-old, playing with them in their backyard, feeding them dinner and finishing their leftover chicken nuggets, reading to them and tucking them in at night before their parents came home, all I wanted was this.

When I taught Pre-Kindergarten and put my students in their cars after dismissal and buckled them in because we had a car line and that’s just what we as teachers did at that school, all I wanted was to be like those parents at school pick-up one day.

When I was married the first time and many of my military spouse peers were moms or soon-to-be-moms, all I wanted was this.

When I was single again and nervous to “start all over,” all I wanted was this, but it seemed farther and farther away.

When I was pregnant the first time, making plans for the following school year as a Kindergarten teacher with a September due date, worrying about starting the year with a maternity leave and what that would feel like, all I wanted was this.

When I felt my son kick and saw him waving to us and blowing bubbles at my ultrasounds, all I wanted and thought I would have was this.

When I lost him at 24 weeks and held him in my arms after he was stillborn, it seemed as though all I had ever wanted was…to hold him, living instead. To hold my son who would grow and meet milestones and cry and laugh and learn to talk and hug and crawl and learn to walk and run and play and go to school and graduate and change me from who I had been into the mom I had seemingly always wanted to be.

But I didn’t have that yet.

It took four years, two pregnancies, and seemingly endless nights of worry and fear to get from that day to this place. But I’m here: a little beaten down, invisible battle scars and all, but here. With my three year old daughter and infant son in this brief and fleeting ‘mother to young children’ place. All I wanted was this, and it’s here.

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