Saturday, October 13, 2012
Meant to Be
I peek out the window and note my tired reflection.
My hair, loosely ponytailed.
My eyes, darkly circled.
My face, washed bare.
Stark tree branches scrape against the house. My flickering screen mirrors the feeling.
I tuck my knees beneath me. The chair is hard, my back is sore. I lean in close- watching, waiting, ready.
Finally, I maneuver the fickle cursor to a chat room where strangers hide behind avatars that aren't their own. Realities in their backgrounds, escape at their fingertips.
I was twenty-two years old, a first year teacher by day, a graduate student by night, and a thesis writer by even later at night.
I had tasted the sweetness of education and roommates and freedom and independence. And then, I moved back home.
So in the darkest of hours, by the light of the moon and my lamp and my teeny tiny screen, I’d settle into the room at the back of my parents’ house.
Its lines and edges and wooden beams were decorated from floor to ceiling with my books and my paintings and my photographs. But nonetheless- it was my parents’ house.
I sat at my childhood desk -etched and stickered and stained of my youth- curving my words around my future.
excite.com is where I went.
23SweetGirl was my screen name and Jazz2Nite was his.
My avatar landed on his, he didn't mind, and we've been together ever since.
We connected online somewhere around Halloween 1999.
I flew from
California to Wisconsin
to meet him in person in January 2000.
We stayed long distance for the rest of that school year, draining both of our wallets with monthly visits.
And then, I moved to
Minnesota into a horrid
apartment that July.
Without a job.
Without a car.
Without knowing a soul in the
How’s that for a less-than-well-thought-out plan? I’m not sure what I would say to my own children if they announced anything like…that. Put my foot down? Yell? Forbid?
Bless my parents for not saying much of anything. I think they knew that I would have gone ahead with everything as planned no matter what was said (or yelled) because Jason and I were meant to be.
Not the sleep deprived-sometimes grumpy-stretched to the max version of us. But the happy-committed-still in love-together version that we are today.
When we met we had “tests” for prospective dates. Jason’s were spicy foods, chopstick skills and Star Wars. Mine were Thai food and Tuesdays with Morrie. Little did we know, life naturally tests marriage.
Shortly after our one year anniversary, we got pregnant with Kayli. And while we were thrilled beyond belief, I was worried. Not about what I should have been worried about, mind you, like the tremendous responsibility we were taking on- another life, another soul, in our care.
No, there were other, more pressing matters on my mind such as What if she wants to sit between us at dinner? In reality she (plus two) would end up sleeping between us at night!
Our learning curve was HUGE. I was baby bluesy, Kayli was colicky, nursing was difficult, we were both exhausted, and in a very short time we went down to a quarter of the salary that we were accustomed to. Kayli was the first real test that life gave us and we felt confident enough with the results to have two more children. We take that as a good sign.
Today, it’s hard to remember what our life was like before children. I might miss a few little things- like the spontaneity of going to a Sunday night movie, or sleeping in (like the real 10:00 or later kind of sleeping in), or dividing our money to meet two people’s needs rather than five. But in reality our life, our relationship, our love has grown exponentially stronger by having children.
We have moments that we’re not proud of. Who doesn’t? We could each be a bit more thoughtful here. A tad more helpful there. More understanding. More giving. There’s always the potential for more. But we are truly blessed to be together. And realizing that and continually working on it is at the heart of our family.
Even though our life has changed since our younger, thinner days we still (try to) follow some of the advice that we got at our wedding and honeymoon.
Always be kind.
Say yes more often than no.
Keep the conversation going even if you’re too tired to keep your eyes open.
Take interest in each others passions.
And remember that you’re on the same team.
Actually, remember that you are the team.
Jason and I were “discussing” something recently and after a particularly emotional reaction from me he paused, then said, “You’re difficult. But at least consistently difficult so I know what to expect.”
That’s exactly the kind of team I’d like to be a part of– one that knows me, understands me, and is committed to us anyway.
Somewhere amidst the wonderful mess that is a family is you as a couple. Keep each other at the heart of your family to model a good relationship for your children and to be that good relationship for you. You all deserve it.