It began in June, when I left summer for winter, and my last flight for awhile descended into Sydney.
I walked out and breathed in the cold, crisp air, and finally felt I was home.
That night we drove to Lithgow. The town I was born. Back to the street where most of my childhood memories were made. The place I so longed to escape with all my impassioned teenage will, but now, having seen some of the world, drew me back with its peaceful streets and familiar faces.
It had been just more than a year since I lived in this country. A year characterised by a brand new marriage forging it’s way in a culture so foreign to me, full with brilliant victories and dismal failures, written over seven wild months of battling fear with growing love, and weaving myself into a community of individuals so unlike myself, yet so familiarly human.
A year that carried us from the island of Hispaniola to the island of Hawai’i – outwardly tropically stunning and alike, but inwardly a shift so striking and so desperately needed. We planted ourselves into a new community for some time, then flowed into a constant readjusting to new values and languages, as we trickled through Southeast Asia with a growing baby in my belly.
And finally we were here. The little country town where I was born. The world I first knew. The place we promised each other, before God, that through it all, we’d love each other.
Most of my life I’d craved adventure, and my feet felt insatiably wanderlust. ‘To live in Australia forever,’ was my greatest fear, and I envied those whose habitat was foreign and frequently changing.
Yet suddenly, this little country town was everything I needed.
The home-brewed coffee on icy mornings, the quotidian movements on the slow-paced streets, the simple conversations with familiar souls – I suddenly loved these routine moments, as they breathed calm over my restless mind.
Josiah came to us at 2.20am one winter morning, a little earlier than expected, yet so perfectly on time. As his little, beating body was planted on my chest and he stared up into my eyes, I wondered how such a miracle had been living and growing inside me.
I recounted my birth experience a thousand times in my mind that week. I was desperate not to forget any details of how in a matter of moments my life was indelibly changed. Hours of unbearable pain overcome in mere seconds by uncontainable joy – in every sense it was a rollercoaster of spontaneous emotion.
Motherhood surprised me – I tend to be underprepared for most events, but had tried to be more ready for this one, spending my sleepless pregnant nights flicking down my phone screen and googling all possible scenarios I could think of. What most surprised me about motherhood wasn’t the fatigue, or the thousand ways my body has changed, or sudden kindness from all female passers-by… but rather the way this child has overwhelmed my heart with love beyond what I ever expected. He is imperfect yet the most perfection I have ever known. He is far more than all I wanted in life, like a dream hidden in my heart that I never knew was mine.
And every day I stare at him in complete wonder. Sometimes thinking, I can’t believe you were there.
You were there, the smallest you have ever been, in our last days in Haiti, riding on motorcycles and feasting on rice under the burning sun, surrounded by so many loving souls.
You were there as I walked the streets of New York City for the first time, strolling from Starbucks to Starbucks. I wouldn’t have drunk so much coffee if I’d known.
Back in Australia, as I stood in tears when my sister walked down the aisle to the love of her life, little did I know your tiny heart was just below, beating even faster than mine.
And the first time your papa saw snow in California, we built a little snow family- a mum, a dad and a baby snowman, unaware that we’d be that little new family too.
You were there during those Hawaiian months, the place we first discovered you, amongst that community of many from different places and different stories, all now intertwined with yours.
When I saw you swimming around my womb on the ultrasound in Thailand, I saw you had your papa’s feet, and thought for a second your face looked my brother. I thought I might be imagining things, but in actuality you do.
When we drove over the river into the quiet village in Burma, and when we flew into the chaotic capital of Cambodia, you were there, furiously growing as we constantly moved.
And at the end of it all, at the beginning of it all, when we landed here, you were there. Home. One of them. I think you might have breathed a sigh of relief with me too.
Then, I knew you in twists and turns. Now, I know you in so much more. I know you in your furrowed eyebrows, your excited breaths, your sharp looks, your calm persona, and your sweet, sweet cuddles. I know you so much more than yesterday, and tomorrow I’ll know you more.
Though we fuss over your tiny feet and chubby hands like we’ve only just met – you’ve been with us for quite some time. From the very first moment you started growing in my womb, you were you, and that amazes me.