I turned 23 the summer we met, and he was 25. Those ages seem so young to me now, 11 years later. Back then, we had our whole lives ahead of us and were starry eyed with dreams of our glorious future together. Before the gray hair and the stretch marks. When we were still in that "eat, sleep and breathe" one another phase.
I used to be the girl who just walked over to him and wrapped myself up in his arms for no reason. I was the girl who, when we were apart, would miss him so much it felt like the breath got knocked out of me. I was also the girl who went out of her way to make him his favorite meal or dress a certain way that would capture his attention.
Now I'm the woman who yells, "No jumping on the bed!", "Stop bothering your sister/brother!", or "Put that back!" I'm the woman who is frantically trying to contain the plethora of toys to one room. I'm the woman who is too emotionally spent at the end of the day to enter into any kind of meaningful conversation with another adult. I'm the mother wiping, consoling, disciplining and wrangling two kids under the age of five wishing she could turn back the sands of time to have one uninterrupted night alone with her husband. And not just to have it, to treasure it.
But somehow I spend more time planning birthday parties and play dates than I do date nights. I'm too busy hugging and kissing my kids to share some of that affection with their father. I'm so focused on the needs, wants and desires of our children that before I know it, I'm neglecting those of their dad. I get so bogged down with the daily, mundane tasks of child rearing and household managing that I sometimes forget to cultivate the relationship that started this family in the first place.
If I want to teach my kids anything, they must first know that they can rest securely in the fact that their mother and father's marriage is healthy. I don't want them to reach their twenties, ready to go off on their own and start their own families, without having had a good example of what marriage is. Not just having been taught that you stay together for the long haul, but that you also keep finding ways to love, communicate with and serve one another. That you shouldn't lose sight of each other somewhere between the very first cry of your firstborn and the "I do" of your last. I don't want to arrive at the empty nest phase and discover that we were merely roommates all those years.
I need to start being intentional about the most important earthly relationship I have. Marriages between one man and one woman that actually last are going the way of the dodo bird these days. I don't want to be swept up with the extinction. My children certainly deserve better than that. So I will mother less and play the role of wife more. I will carve out that time for the one who I couldn't wait to spend all my days with. I will extend the same unconditional love to him that I pour out in abundance on our children. And I will put myself into his arms for "no reason" again.
|Our wedding day, January 11, 2003.|