Some days it feels so hard, doesn't it? To get the important tasks checked off, to make sure our children are happy, to make sure we're communicating with one another. That we're planning and prepping and keeping this train chugging along.
And that we're not forgetting about ourselves along the way.
The beginning was easy, wasn't it? Falling in love with your person is, I guess. We were young and carefree and didn't yet have the weight of the responsibilities the size of three children, a mortgage, and being the ones to make sure ends meet. Those dreams, that once felt so surreal, are now our reality. The home full of messes, the days full of toddler giggles, the life full of love.
The future we imagined then was clear, pretty and perfect.
There was no stress, no hardship, no roadblocks or detours ahead. The road to marriage and babies and career success was smooth.
We were cruising right along to our happily ever after.
So why didn't anyone in the cars next to us stop us to say how hard it would be to build all those dreams we conjured up together? Or at least about how tricky it would be to keep our personal goals at the forefront of our heads and hearts while also keeping the goals we've envisioned for our family top of mind too?
(All while changing diapers, squeezing in important conversations in between tantrums and gnawing on our fingernails as we check our bank account.)
Why, exactly, did we think this would be easy?
Well, we didn't know about childcare challenges and how much laundry five people could go through in a week. We didn't quite get the feeling of true, relentless exhaustion or what worrying about humans who are totally dependent upon us could do to our hearts.
And somehow, the initial feeling of taking our student loans out wasn't quite as painful as it has been to physically make those payments back every single month (for what feels like will be the rest of our lives).
We also didn't yet realize that time is a thief—and that we'd have to learn how to prioritize it precisely in order to get the important things done. Like our individual dreams.
It's taken us some time to understand that we have to be the ones to make our individual dreams one of those important priorities because they're not really individual dreams at all, they're family dreams.
Because what you want to achieve, is what I want you to achieve.
And what I dream about creating, is what you want me to have the time and space to create.
Every day we're learning more about how we can make this happen for ourselves and for each other. Because we're noticing what happens when we don't forget about ourselves—we're happy, we're vibrant, we're alive. We bring that spirit into our partnership and our families and it makes a world of difference.
We're showing our children what hard work and determination look like, of course. But more importantly, we're showing them what working together can accomplish. And how beautiful support is. Teamwork makes the dream work, so they say. But there's no dream without the magic of believing that anything is possible within yourself and without giving your partner permission and encouragement to do the same.
Saying "no" to fun events and activities because it's not in our very specific, very calculated family budget is not easy. Having to carry the weight of our home and caring for our children while you studied was not easy. Sometimes it felt like it might break me. And leaving you guys on perfect Sunday mornings for weeks and weeks on end to work on my novel hurt my heart some days.
None of this stuff feels easy.
But it all has a purpose—to work toward building the life we've always wanted. A life where dreams become reality, and anything can happen.
These responsibilities, to our dreams and to each other, keep us grounded.
To me, this is what it means to be a family.
I often stop and think about our path. The one that was designed just for us. And I think about us sitting at our kitchen table in 20 years with our children who will be grown adults. I don't know where we'll be living exactly, or what we will have accomplished in our careers (although, I have certain hopes for both), but I do know I'll be proud.
I'll be proud of the humans we raised and the love that has carried us over the speedbumps and potholes of life.
We'll look back on this time in our lives in awe. I think we'll wonder, How did we do all that, exactly?
And I think we'll know the answer.
It's because we had each other.
Because I found you and you found me and we've been with each other—really with each other—every step of the way in this wild, winding road that is life.