We are nearing an anniversary, and today has been sweet husband’s birthday. I’ve learned some things along the way. Most of all, that life is not perfect. Most certainly, we are not perfect. For the small amount that it is worth, I hope you might find some bit of wisdom here…
I have come to realize that I have celebrated birthdays with you for nearly half our lives. I don’t think I ever quite envisioned that bailing on that St. Jude’s telethon in the early 2000s would have been such a pivotal moment to my future. To our future.
And so today, as life seemed somewhat mundane, driven by responsibility rather than celebration, I spent much time pondering how time has brought us here.
I remember forcing encouraging you to change your major in one of our first deep conversations. You’re welcome. Five minutes in, Babe, and I knew for certain you weren’t a nurse.
I remember the first time I convinced you to skip class. And the domino effect it had on our future course attendance. My apologies, but breakfast dates at McDonald’s were the early moments when I began to feel our love grow.
It grew even deeper as we religiously ate and dreamed about life at Wing Stop. A decade and a half later, I don’t know if the ranch really tastes that good or if the memories help it go down a little bit smoother.
Countless Sunday afternoons watching football, taking naps, and cooking breakfast for supper before the week began again. All these kids later… boy, did we take those lazy days for granted.
Smiles, tears, laughs, fears… and a moment on a knee where everything I had ever hoped for presented itself when I least expected it.
On that day, seeing you get down on a knee, I think I had bought in to the fairy tale that somehow we had arrived. In that moment, we had achieved the fantasy. We had acquired the prize. But I saw a quote recently that really could not have said it better…
Marriage is not a destination, it is a process.
Many lessons I have learned in the time we have spent together. But having seen this quote, I believe that if I had to articulately communicate the sum total of marriage for some young, bright-eyed, romance addict as I was, it would be this.
You don’t work hard for your ultimate job, and then quit.
You don’t chase after your dream hobby, and then quit performing.
You don’t work to acquire the car you’ve always wanted, and then bang it up.
You don’t build a forever home, and then fill it with junk and not keep it clean.
So why does society teach us to treat our marriages this way? We somehow believe that once we’ve “got the guy” or “got the girl” that we have sealed the deal and can just coast on through. But don’t you think that’s the biggest lie we’ve ever been told? That somehow finding someone to love is the easy part? And loving them just comes natural?
What about when tragedy strikes? Trust is broken? Money is tight? Kids are crazy? Everyone is tired? You feel like quitting? What then?
No, I’ve learned that marriage is a fight. It takes work and effort. It is certainly not a place we’ve arrived but a process we work through. A career we commit to. A hobby worth harboring. A vehicle worth caring for. And a forever home that we will not allow to be filled with junk and not kept clean.
This is us. This is our journey. And this morning as I looked across the truck more in love with you than I’ve ever been, I saw your tired eyes as we kissed the kids and dropped them to school and shared coffee and visited over breakfast and kissed goodbye as you headed out the door again. And then the scales tipped.
The balance was won over by the realization that my young, bright-eyed, romance addict heart got it all wrong. The good stuff didn’t end that time you filled my car with roses and left me a letter. It didn’t end when you got down on one knee, and we called all our family and friends to finally announce that we were engaged. It didn’t end when we enjoyed a worry-free week in Jamaica with endless naps and conversation. That wasn’t our destination.
The process has proven that the true romance has been the way you continue to love me even after my body has changed after carrying our children. It has been fighting for our dreams when it would be much easier to throw in the towel. It has been holding my hand when tears stream down my cheeks. It has been not just allowing me but pushing me to chase after my own dreams, reminding me that I am made for more. It has been choosing me day after day even on the days I might not have been worth the choice. It has been watching you grow into the most amazing daddy and leader of our home. It has been seeing the gray creep in and the wrinkles form and knowing that those things are evidence of the life we’ve built and the storms we have weathered together.
And so today, I promise you, that I will keep on fighting for you until the years we have been together far surpass the years we have not. I will love you and cherish you and commit to this journey with you and vow to keep walking instead of having simply arrived at a destination.
You are my perfectly imperfect process. You are the dream to which I am fully committed. This is us. This is our journey. And I’m so glad mine is with you…
Happy birthday my love. Here’s to you and to many more along the way, hand in hand…