Looking back now, 11 years later, falling in love was so easy. We were attracted to each other, we were both single, we didn't have many serious responsibilities yet, and we had plenty of time. Time to get to know one another and how to care for each other. Time to adventure together and learn who we were both as a couple and as individuals, too.
We now have seven years of marriage under our belts and six years of parenthood. Every day we're learning how to be a stronger team throughout the curveballs life (and our kids) throw at us.
(And believe me, there are plenty.)
Like a toddler who could most likely climb to the top of the Empire State Building without ropes, Free Solo style. Or the bed wetting. Or the crib escaping. Or all the childcare puzzle pieces. Or the beauty and pain of watching our kids need us less as they become more independent. Or the daily doses of attitudes, whining fits, and meltdowns—all from three children who we created ourselves.
These curveballs can feel like a lot. Some days are so exhausting, I could fall asleep the second you walk through the door.
And some days are so trying, I could drive off into the sunset the second you walk through the door. (I would come back, I promise.)
These years that we've been raising young children together have felt heavy because they're full. Full of twists and turns, of guilt and exhaustion, of happiness and growth.
They've felt heavy because of the weight. The weight of the worries on our minds, the anxiety in our hearts, the stress on our bodies.
And through it all, I see you, and all the many ways you care for me.
The little things are so huge to me, especially after a long day.
Like making a cup of my favorite tea and delivering it to me on the couch. Bringing home Ben & Jerry's when you can tell my texts are short and so, my fuse might be, too.
Giving me a back rub when I complain about my aches. Watching the movies I pick out over and over again without complaining.
Listening to me vent without looking at your phone or brushing my worries off to move onto something else. Sitting with me when I need to cry. Reassuring me when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.
The mornings that start with you delivering me a cup of coffee in bed before you head to work are the BEST. It may seem like a small act of love, but it feels like a big, giant hug from you. (And I love getting those from you, too.)
You're the sole weekend diaper changer because you're at work during most of the weekday changes. You're the laundry master, the middle-of-the-night potty helper, the toy assembler, the hair washer and consequently, the soap-getter-out-of-the-eyer.
You're my partner, my equal. My spouse and my best friend.
All the little things that you do for me, for us, add up to a huge pile of gratefulness, respect, validation and appreciation.
They show me—like I aim to show you by the way I care for you—that you see me as a human. Not just the mother of your children. Not just the family chef. Not just the breastfeeder. Not just the chauffeur. Not just the magic maker, boo-boo healer, or errand-runner.
You see that woman you fell in love with 11 years ago. The woman I've grown into. The woman I'm aspiring to be; always aiming to better myself. You notice the effort I'm putting in and you look me in the eyes to let me know you're proud.
That's the big stuff. And I'm grateful for that too.
You see me trying to dig out from under all this motherhood and find myself again. Did I get lost? I'm not sure exactly. I mostly think I've just evolved. Am evolving. But I do think I've lost touch with myself a little along the way, and you're always encouraging me to find my way back.
Thank you for the little stuff, the big stuff. The invisible stuff, the grandeur stuff. The simple stuff, the complicated stuff. The stuff that comes easy to you, the stuff that you'd probably rather not do but you do anyway because you love me.
Thank you for being in this with me.
Thank you for staying steady when I'm standing on shaky ground.
And thank you for catching those curveballs when I can't.