Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Years of Yeses

This is going to be short and sweet because, well, everything is these days.

These days we are chasing a non-stop 18-month-old, sometimes with a 3 week old bouncing along in our arms, praying we aren't doing him irrevocable damage by subjecting him to all the chaos of our lives.

These days a lot of people look at us in public and say "How old are they? Woah, you've got your hands full, don't you?"

These days, as is necessary in this particular phase, our life revolves around making sure our oldest gets to school and soccer practice and gets that daily snuggle he still needs even while we balance keeping the toddler from drinking from oily street puddles and making sure the newborn stays fed and dry and has no one poking him in the eye.

But twelve years ago, these types of days were a distant dream. Something we could pretend to imagine but really have no idea of how all-encompassing, how overwhelming, how fulfilling and exhausting they would would feel all at the same time.

June 7, 2003, Leaving our wedding reception
But twelve years ago we knew one thing: We were saying yes to each other forever and yes to whatever would happen for us and to us in the meantime.

That meant we said yes to becoming parents and then crashing our way through the "two working parents" childhood of Josh and all of the "ships passing in the night" that that meant for us at the time.

November 3, 2006, Josh is born
That meant we said yes to a hard year of struggling to communicate and having to remember why we said yes in the first place when he had a tough spell around the five year mark.

That meant we said yes to struggling through the loss of our second child, through the ensuing fertility treatments and years of infertility and eventual death of that dream.

June 14, 2013, Leaving NC for WI
That meant we said yes to years of training and home studies and invasive questions about our sex lives and parenting and family relationships to pursue adoption.

That meant we said yes to my husband starting a new career and moving from friends and family and starting over twice with new schools and churches and relationships and rhythms to our lives.

That meant we said yes to putting my own career on hold when we brought our second son home from foster care last year and to continuing to stay home for a bit longer now that his younger brother is here, too.
January 9, 2014, Nate joins the family

It means we will say yes again to whatever comes when this post-doc is finished in Wisconsin, we will say it together, we will move again (most likely) and we will start up life again somewhere new, hopefully for the long haul.

May 13, 2015, Jayce joins the family
It has meant saying yes over and over again to each other. To remembering the "I wills" of our wedding day. To remembering that before the dog and the boys and the guinea pigs and all the moves and changes, we said yes, first and foremost, to each other. To a covenant of life together no matter what. To putting our marriage before our children so that our children will be parented by parents who unashamedly love and honor each other and are, therefore, better at loving them.

So today, as we celebrate 12 years, we do it with puffy eyes and exhausted bodies. We do it with full hearts as we watch our sons run around the backyard, playing soccer, laughing and crying after worshiping with our church family this morning. We do it as we look at each other knowing that there will not be a big fancy dinner out this year. There might just be a quiet, miraculous hour tonight when all 3 are asleep at the same time.

I suspect that we will just sit together and soak it in. Maybe with a glass of wine or a margarita. Maybe we'll hold hands and just sit and remember the yeses. And maybe we'll just fall asleep on each other's shoulders.

I hope we do.

Because as much as marriage is the hardest work in the world, it is worth every second. And the thing I want my three boys to know most of all as they grow up, besides the fact that God loves them more deeply and truly than we ever could, is that their parents made a promise to love each other and to love them, even on the days where love doesn't feel good. That our yeses as husband and wife put each other first in a way that will hopefully trickle down to their own understanding of what it means to have a true partner some day.

So, I'm just going to say it at the end here because it needs to be said outright and boldly.

I love my kids. And I will give them everything I have.

But they are not the center of my universe.

God is.

And it was before Him and many witnesses that I promised all the yeses to my husband, including giving him all of me. Before, during and after our kids are long gone from our home.

May God always grant us the energy to remember that and not let the chaos of the daily or the tyranny of the urgent (read, toddler) distract us from that fundamental promise that formed our family in the first place.

Happy 12 years to us. I look forward to the next yes, the next adventure with the most generous, patient husband a woman could ever hope for.

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