Do you remember that night nearly 9 years ago? The first date in a corner booth at a chain restaurant? The instant connection... the laughter, the wait staff sweeping floors and closing up shop around us because 3 hours apparently wasn't enough time to get to know each other?
The hug in the parking lot (you later admitted a kiss would have been too forward). The phone call the next day, roses delivered to my work 2 days later on Valentine's Day (a gutsy move). I never liked getting flowers before that. But you were different.
I remember the dates those first couple years... Lake Michigan sunsets, dinners at local restaurants, afternoons at Diamond Lake, homemade dinners, and the one time I tried to cook you dinner at my apartment.
It's not my fault no one had ever told me it would take approximately 5 years to boil potatoes whole before they would be soft enough to mash. Didn't I set off the smoke alarm that night too?
I remember how it felt to fall so hard and fast for someone who seemed so perfect. So thoughtful. So kind. And smart. It didn't take either one of us long to realize this was it. We were in love and perfect for each other.
I remember that fall morning you came over after your work shift ended. We'd been dating almost 2 years. You were in the other room and I answered your cell phone, thinking it was one of your friends needing something for the bachelor party you had that day.
I remember hearing the woman's voice on the other end, tears filling my eyes, my heart sinking, and then filling with rage when I asked her name and she responded, "Kelly."
I immediately confronted you.
Remember? Your face sank and the guilt was all over it. I knew right then we were done. You weren't who I thought. But then (because I was SO mad) you called the number back right in front of me and she answered, "J.R. Fox Jewelers, this is Kelly, how may I help you?"
I guess that's one way to find out your boyfriend picked out a ring and is about to propose.
I remember moving in together. The next big step. Then the puppy I had to have.
I remember that morning a little over a year after our wedding. The word "pregnant" on the stick. I was in shock. I told you right away. I remember feeling so lucky... PREGNANT ON THE FIRST TRY!
Then I remember the bleeding, the call to the doctor, the ultrasound with a very low heartbeat, the cramping and then the most heartache I'd ever felt. No more baby.
It was taken from us before we ever had a chance to meet. It felt so unfair.
But I remember you comforting me. Crying with me. Feeling the same pain as me and holding me.
I remember the cautious, optimistic joy a few months later. Another positive test. This one was going to stick. And it did. Our sweet Hudson arrived in 2011. Then Sawyer in 2013. Three more heartbreaking miscarriages in 2014 and then 4 months ago, our Lyla.
They are so perfect and our family is complete. We laugh so much with them, we learn so much from them and the life we’ve built together is so good.
But lately I’m constantly asking myself why it’s so hard.
We have friends who aren’t able to get pregnant, friends whose babies were born and then died, friends without jobs, friends who would give anything to have the life and love that we do.
Yet preschool, daycare, soccer, swimming lessons, bills, work, no time to think, no time to breathe make this life seem so overwhelming. Like it’s all too much.
Why am I so stressed all the time? I know I’m working too many hours, I don’t spend anywhere near enough time with you or the kids and I feel like I could have a breakdown at any moment.
I know you’re feeling the pressure too. We’re barely keeping our heads above water. Then it erupts into little digs or comments and sometimes an argument. Then there’s regret on top of the stress.
I never thought so much success and happiness could lead to so many tears and sleepless nights. I never expected raising kids, holding down a job and being married would be so much work.
I never envisioned my adult life as a 4:30 a.m. alarm clock and then not stopping until 9 or 10 p.m. It’s grueling. I’m exhausted and I know you are too.
There is no “me” time, no “us” time. No date nights. Barely any time to talk face-to-face. It feels like the life we worked so hard to build is consuming us.
But here’s what else I want you to know.
I see you. I see you being so strong while I’m so frazzled. I see you being so kind and patient with our kids when it would be easier to dismiss them or yell. I see you being the father and husband I always knew you would be.
I see you working harder than ever to make everything work. The kids’ toys. Your job. Family dinners. Whatever I broke this week (I’m not the most graceful person).
I see you sucking it up and forging ahead. I see you living in the moment and not sweating the small stuff. I see you loving me unconditionally even though I can be a raging psycho sometimes (I mean very, very rarely… but we both know it happens).
And I want you to know I love you for all of that and so much more. Thank you for being you and reminding me how beautiful this life is.
Just as the kind mother of teenagers told me on the playground this summer, The Days Are Long and the Years are Short.
And I’m so lucky I get to spend them with you.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...