Remember the Me I Am Today



In October 2012, my hubby and I decided to take a quick get-away to Captiva Island, Florida. We’d never done anything of the sort, and a three-day jaunt down and back was all we could manage with little ones aged four and two at home. Still, we were excited to get a bit of time together.

One evening, we sat watching the stunning sunset compliments of Hurricane Sandy and her chaos on the Atlantic side just days before. Not caring that crazy after-winds pelted us with shell fragments and churned up massive waves in the usually smooth-as-glass waters of the Gulf side, we soaked it in. I turned to Chris and said, “When we get home, remember the me I am today.” He smiled and squeezed my hand. Relaxed, calm, and with my “Mom” hat nowhere to be seen, I was once again the woman he married and still liked to have fun with when time allowed. I was the me I desperately missed in the chaos of raising a young family.

When I was little, my parents did pre-Cana counseling with couples through our church. I used to eavesdrop as they talked about marriage with the soon-to-be-hitched. They never made any bones about the fact that love is a decision—lust, attraction, infatuation: all feelings. But not love. Love goes way beyond that.

When Chris and I were engaged, mom said to me, “There will be days when you wake up, look over and think, ‘What have I done?’ And there will be days you won’t like your spouse. Hang on through those days for the better ones.” She was right. Not because I married a jerk (I didn’t), but because life gets in the way.

Social media, ads, and the general consumerism of our society would have us believe that every dollar spent on an engagement and wedding equals one tick-mark of love. After all, isn’t financial effusion the most genuine expression of how we feel about someone? Huge diamond? S/he must really love them! Massive public proposal? Their life will be so extraordinary! Hardly. Like social media, a wedding belongs in the highlight reel. It’s the prettied-up cousin to the down-and-out hard work of marriage. And that’s where the decision comes in.

A few years after our own quite modest big day, we began our struggle with infertility, and it tested us like you wouldn’t believe. We lost twins along the way and had to figure out how to grieve together into the bargain—easier said than done. It was pretty tough on a young marriage.

Over the past twenty-two years of accumulating joint baggage, we’ve had ups, downs, good times, struggles, celebrations, births, and fantastic wins and losses together. But four years ago, through the actions of a seriously messed-up individual, our life got flipped upside down, and the result has been all-encompassing, threatening to sink our beautiful ship. It robbed us of precious time we needed to communicate with each other. Chris and I were exhausted most of the time. Patience materialized out of thin air and evaporated just as quickly. As we played Hot Potato and tag-team, frequently passing silently like ships in the night, we didn’t have time for data dumps and downloads. And we often didn’t have the energy to be polite.

As things around the house remained undone—a messy kitchen, unfolded laundry, overflowing trash cans—it was easy to blame, wallow, and lash out. We were confident our little family would get through this, though we weren’t exactly sure just how yet. Flying by the seat of one’s pants, even with professionals helping, doesn’t secure the map in one’s back pocket.

Which brings me to a night last year. My parents drove over from Minnesota and took the kids out to dinner and then swimming at their hotel and instructed Chris and me to go out. We did. The kids were excited and looking forward to some Oma and Opa time. Chris and I were nearly asleep on our feet. We ate here in town, enjoying the quiet, uninterrupted conversation, and then stopped by the grocery store on our way home. I asked if he wanted to pick up a dessert. He said his dessert would be his snugglies, the couch, and the TV in our quiet house and invited me to join him. It sounded delicious. When we were nearly home, he said, “This was nice.” I agreed, adding, “If for no other reason than to remind us that we aren’t always assholes to each other. Remember this me when the chaos reigns.” He smiled, understanding completely.

It’s been hard. REALLY hard. But here we are, together, surviving and heading toward thriving again. THIS is love and we choose it every day.

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