Love Like You Mean It

12783522_10153433132243061_7977592040323333292_o

Love Like You Mean It.  That was the name of the marriage conference at our church last Saturday.  I decided I was going to go to the conference even if Brett couldn’t go.  He never knows what time he’s going to get home from work so it was questionable if he would get home in time to go with me.  I’m not much of a morning person and we needed to leave by 7:00.  So I decided to save time and skip the whole wash my hair/dry my hair routine.  I just took a bath and quickly straightened my hair. Brett came in the door at 6:30, had a quick shower, and we left by 7:00.

As I was pulling out of the driveway I realized I forgot to put my makeup on.  Oh well.  At least Brett is with me and we’re actually going to be on time.  A couple of photographers were at the conference to take pictures of all the happy couples.  Oh no!  Pictures.  And I didn’t wash my hair!  And I forgot to put on my makeup!  And Brett hasn’t had any sleep.  One of the photographers asked us to pose in front of the backdrop.  I couldn’t tell this gal no because she’s our daughter. Yep. Taylor was one of the photographers for the conference.  And I forgot they would be taking pictures?  What’s wrong with my brain? or do I even have one anymore?  And before I forget……photo credit for the picture above goes to our Taylor.

I thought I would have to spend the morning lovingly placing my elbow in Brett’s rib cage to keep him awake.  But the speakers were interesting and they did a great job keeping Brett awake.  My elbow didn’t touch his rib cage even one time.  During intermission prizes were given away.  They were giving away gift cards for dinner and a movie.  I could go for dinner and a movie.  Draw our name!  Draw our name! Nope. We didn’t win.  And we didn’t win the box of chocolates or the grand prize either.   But I felt like I had won the grand prize because my husband gave up sleep just to be with me.

The conference ended with a vow renewal ceremony.  Brett and I held hands, looked into each others eyes, and said our vows.  The moment only happened because he chose me over sleep.  He loves like he means it.  We stopped for lunch on the way home.  I sat and looked into his beautiful, tired eyes as we ate lunch. We didn’t talk about the conference.  We didn’t talk much at all.  We just ate.  Sometimes love is just being silent when Brett hasn’t slept in the last 24 hours.

The day after the conference wasn’t a magical day filled with love.   Part of the problem was that one of our two turtles had a canker sore that was the size of the Grand Canyon.   She was angry, irritable, and out of control.  If I had been in her shoes I would’ve been angry, irritable, and out of control too.  That thing was huge. The medicine we put on it didn’t help.   By evening I was exhausted, irritable, and I snapped.  I snapped at my man who gave up sleep for me and said beautiful vows to me only a day ago.  I snapped at him while he was chopping up vegetables to put in the slow cooker so that supper would be ready the next night when we got home from Easter Seals.

Life felt good when we were at the marriage conference.  And then we went home.  Parenting has a way of becoming top priority.  But special needs parenting has a way of consuming your life. Everything feels like it’s urgent.  That canker sore the size of the Grand Canyon was urgent.  Trying to plan our girls futures is time-consuming. Should we do the parent-child interaction therapy that the speech therapists think would be good for our family? Should we look into that communication disorder classroom that we heard about?  or should we enroll the girls in the other school we’ve heard about?  We really need an advocate to help us figure this all out.  Where do we find one?  Teaching the girls to ask nicely instead of demanding is an all day every day task.  I need to schedule a hair cut for our gal who keeps twisting, pulling, and damaging her hair.  Our two older girls need us as much as our two turtles need us.  We need to go buy a new oven and the washer isn’t acting right.  I need to sit down and pay the bills.  And for some reason our family wants to eat every single day.  My list of things to do and things to think about never ends.  Sometimes I reach a point when I just snap.  And unfortunately I snapped a lot this week.

It’s been one of those weeks where we just thank God that we survived it and we survived it together.  Maybe this week I’ll handle life a little better than I handled it last week.  Maybe this week I won’t snap at my handsome man.  But even if I do snap I know that he will always be here for me.  And he knows that I will always be here for him. We’ll love when it’s easy to love and we’ll love when it’s hard to love.  Because that’s the promise we made to each other 25 years ago.

 

 

 

 

I Remember Your Eyes

vdayCollage

I remember your eyes.  I saw them for the first time on our blind date.   I’d never seen eyes like yours. Were they blue? or were they green? or were they gray? or did it even matter?  They were beautiful.  I went to bed that night thinking about you and your beautiful eyes.

You asked me to go out again.  I said no.  Sorry about that.  I thought you were too old for me.  5 years difference seemed like a big deal back then.  You’d just graduated from college and were starting your new job.  I’d just graduated from high school and was getting ready to start college.  But the real reason I said no was because I was afraid of getting hurt again.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about you.  It took me awhile to work up my nerve to call you.  Kinda wish cell phones and texting had been a thing in 1989. That would’ve been a lot easier.  So your phone finally rang and it was me on the other end.  Were you surprised?  Yeah.  Me too.

I remember your eyes when you leaned in to kiss me for the first time.  You were such a gentleman as you asked if it would be ok if you kissed me. I won’t say how long we dated before we kissed.  Because no one has ever believed that story anyway.  But it was worth the wait.

After 10 months of dating you got down on one knee at the Olive Garden and you asked me to marry you.  I looked into your eyes and without hesitation I said yes. Of course I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.  We were excited to get home and tell our families.  As we got close to home we realized something terrible had happened. You stopped and talked to a policeman.  He said a tornado had blown through and a woman had been killed.   I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

You drove down the road that my grandma lived on.  You quickly realized you should’ve went the other way.  The debris was horrible.  I started crying because I was afraid that grandma was the woman who’d been killed.  You asked me to lie down in the seat because if grandma’s house was gone you didn’t want me to see it.  When you saw that grandma’s house was ok you told me I could sit up.  I felt so loved and protected in that moment.  And I knew I wanted you to love and protect me for the rest of our lives.

I was relieved as we pulled into my driveway and my house was still standing.  My family was gathered in the living room watching the news reports about the tornado. You couldn’t believe it when your college roommate’s family was being interviewed because their house had been destroyed.  It was probably during a commercial break that we said “We’re engaged!”  I don’t really remember.

img291

The preacher told us at the wedding rehearsal to look at each other and not at him when we said our vows.  Why would I want to look at him when I could be looking into your eyes?  I remember your eyes as I said my vows to you.  My knees were shaking but not because I wasn’t sure you were the one.  I’d never been so sure of anything in my whole life.  Yes these are the eyes I want to look at for the rest of my life.  This is the man I want to spend my life with.

We agreed that we would wait 3 years before starting our family.  Those 3 years went by faster than we expected them to.  You suggested we wait 3 more.  Ok.  Why not?  I’m only 22.  Let’s wait 3 more years.  I remember your eyes on the day that you held Taylor in your arms for the first time.   Your name was now Daddy.  I remember your eyes the day you held Brynna for the first time.  And I remember how big your eyes were when you glanced at the ultrasound picture that showed 2 babies instead of 1.  I’ll never forget the relief in your eyes when you saw Mikayla for the first time.  She was a really good size for being born at 34 weeks.   And I’ll never forget the worry in your eyes when you saw Hopey for the first time.  She was so much smaller than Mikayla.

Now we’ve been married 25 years.  We’re so busy answering questions, refereeing quarrels, paying bills, cooking supper, washing dishes, and folding laundry, that I often forget to stop and look into your eyes.  We know there’s a higher risk of divorce among special needs parents.  And there are days when we understand why.  But there’s one thing I can count on every single night.  You will kiss me and hug me before you leave for work.  I guess there’s another thing I can count on.  After you leave Mikayla will ask “You kiss Daddy?  You hug Daddy?” And I always say yes.  It’s like she’s on a mission to make sure that we stay married.  And we will.

I know your eyes are going to look very tired this Valentine’s Day.  You’ll come home from work, sleep a couple of hours, and we’ll leave for church.  I know you’ll be too tired to take me out for dinner.  I honestly don’t care.  Maybe we can just sit, hold hands, and watch a movie together. And when you fall asleep I won’t be disappointed.  I’ll just be glad that we’re together.  So much has changed throughout our years together.  I love you even though you don’t have as much hair as you used to have.  And you love me even though I have more “fluff” than I used to have.  But one thing will never change.  I will always love you and your beautiful eyes.