25 years ago on January 1st, I woke up a married woman. On New Years Eve 1988, Jim and I stood at the altar at Prince of Peace Lutheran church and promised we would take care of each other, love each other and keep our promises to each other.
At the time, it seemed like it was gonna be easy. I loved him, he loved me, we both had jobs, we loved animals and we loved to do fun things outside. Isn't that all you need to make a marriage work?
Our first year was hard and intense. There were boundaries to be established and personalities to figure out, goals to set and agree on and a puppy to train. Let's just say that because you don't fight when you are dating, doesn't mean you don't when you are married.
We learned this the hard way...
In the years to follow, we settled into being parents and trying to be the best ones we could be. I appreciated that in him and I am sure he appreciated that in me. We made tons of mistakes but we never wavered on our priorities...our kids and this family.
Then they started to leave and go to college. My Queen left in 2010 and hasn't looked back. She will graduate next year from CU with an engineering degree. We are so proud of her. She is her father's daughter, quiet and smart, brave and kind. Then in 2012, my middle son left for college. He too, is doing well and we are so proud of him. He is more like me, quick to open his mouth, to get a laugh out of you but no less gifted than his sister. We have one left and he is a junior in high school. This guy is quiet, smart and determined to get away from his two old parents and make something of himself. Finishing strong is our goal as parents, remembering that even though the others did well, it doesn't mean we need to pay attention to him because he's got it.
It's interesting though how things work out. After 25 years, of course things change and soon it will be back to Jim and I. It was him and I for 2 years and then we became Mom and Dad...
He and I were never very good at taking time for ourselves. I would hear my friends talk about "date night" and getting a sitter every week and envy their devotion to their marriage. Or when they went on vacation and left the kids with grandma and just devoted time to each other. I'm not sure we ever did that or wanted to...
I guess we thought pulling the band trailer and feeding the band was devoting time to each other or changing the oil in the car and taking out the garbage without being asked...now that was a sign of deep and abiding love. Or, coaching the boys baseball teams, watching every soccer game, or even when the kids and I would come home with another animal, (even though he begged me not to) would hurry up and figure out the cage it was to live in. That's what I figured love and devotion to a spouse was and is.
But...soon, it is going to have to look like something else, I guess. There is another couple of high school baseball seasons, helping with kid things and then as fast as it began, it is done. Jim and I will be home at night...just him and me. Wow...
Last night, the phone rang from Acuna, Mexico and on the other end was the team he and my boys were building with. He and the boys headed out Friday after Christmas to lead a group and give a family without a home, a place to be. They yelled "Happy Anniversary, Honey" all at once and then Jim got on and said it again. I started to cry a little but I didn't know why. Maybe because I wished he was home with me, or because I am so proud of the father and example he is. Probably a little of both.
When he got asked to lead this build over our anniversary, part of me wanted him to stay home...to want to stay home with me. The dreamy part of me wanted him to sit on the couch and have him tell me all the things he loved about me, us and our life together over 25 years and then we would look romantically into each others eyes and share a kiss. One of those kisses like in the beginning when it was all you could think about.
Then I remembered who he is and who we are together and told him he should go and take his boys. Leading builds in Mexico is the action that brings him closer to his God and makes his heart sing...anyone who has seen him on a build knows that.
I guess it's the part of the deal when we promised to take care of each other and love each other. Over the last 25 years, we have done that part again and again. Not in the romantic, flashy way but in the head down, plow through way that attracted me to him 26 years ago. He was quiet and kind and thoughtful, smart and capable...all the things I wanted in the father of my children. He has been that and more...
So the question begs...do we change what we've done for the last 25 years or do we just keep going? If he was here and I asked him, he would say, "Well, what do you think honey?" and I would launch into some romantic notions about trips and new hobbies and more animals to which he would respond...."We could do that if you really want to." A little later after I thought about it, I would go find him in the garage and ask him if he wanted to sit on the couch and have a beer while I have a glass of wine and he would say yes. After sitting for a few minutes, he would methodically fold up the newspaper to the Soduko, find a pencil and start figuring out the numbers. I would open my computer and we would sit in quiet comfort, every so often bringing up something to talk about but mostly just being quiet and peaceful...being comfortable.
I guess that's not so bad for the next 25 years...is it?
So, Jim, I know you are finishing the house today and are probably smiling from ear to ear as you do it...Happy 25th Anniversary and happy new year. Here's to those promises we made a very long time ago and to trying to keep them again for another 25!
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,