Today is our 21st wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe I’ve been married two years longer than I was ever single (for those of you who are math-challenged, yes, I was 19, but don’t tell my daughters!). I can honestly say I’ve spent the “better half” of my life married to the greatest guy in the world.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Sure is a good thing we took pictures, and that I kept a journal, because left to its own devices, my brain would completely blank out certain eras, such as:
Chapter One - The First Eight Years
I know we must have been doing something. I mean we must have been working and going to school, and surely, we must have eaten something, but it is all so vague.
This is mostly because there are no babies in the pictures to help mark time in that first chapter of our marriage. In fact, the only way differentiate between any of those years is by measuring the varying altitude of my bangs, and the varying bulk of the shoulder pads I mistakenly believed enhanced all 105 pounds of me (what was I thinking?). Let’s not even begin to cry for those size 4 jeans.
But Dennis was there with me, bangs and all. Shoulder pads and all. To his credit, he has not once said he misses the jeans.
Chapter Two – The First Three Kids
Actually, the first half of this chapter, Chapter 2A, is subtitled “The Dark Years” in which we had two babies in fifteen months. I had no idea what I was doing with one baby, let alone two, and, well, I didn’t get out much.
Chapter 2B begins with baby #3 and the terrifying realization that we were now outnumbered by our offspring. There are many pictures of that harried time while we pretended to know what we were doing, but our hollow eyes told the truth. We were totally making it up.
But Dennis was there with me (not that he could ever figure me out) while I wrestled with questions of career and (or versus) motherhood. He just listened and took up the slack, working harder than ever at home when my lack of focus paralyzed me. He helped me hammer out my convictions about life and marriage and parenting, borne mostly out of sheer failure. He kept his sense of humor, and when I couldn’t see past the diapers, he hugged me, and somehow kept pointing me back to God.
Chapter Three – The Next Few Years
This chapter takes us through difficult decisions: choosing for me to stay home; choosing schooling options; and finally, getting confident enough in what in the world we were doing as parents to be open to welcoming baby #4 (after a 3 ½ year hiatus). This was also about the time we decided it was "now or never" for Dennis to go to graduate school. Thank goodness for all those pictures with kids in the background, because for the life of me, I sure couldn’t tell you what year it was.
But I know Dennis was there with me. His degree took him almost eight years because he refused to leave me a widow to his studies. He had no spare time, but still he stayed engaged, and he helped (This is about the time he took up grocery shopping for the family. No kidding.).
Chapter Four – Baby #5 to the Present
This chapter begins with our “bonus” baby, suddenly making our family almost laughably large by today’s standards. Dennis graduated the week before this baby was born, as if to further signify the beginning of a new era. And it has been that.
My days sometimes run together in a blur, stretched somewhere between diapers and driving car pool; between sippie cups and straightening irons; between working the church nursery and chaperoning youth group functions.
But I know Dennis will be there, and that makes it all come into focus.
I love him now more than ever.
And that’s the one part of our twenty-one years together I can’t ever forget.
I love you Dennis. I'm glad it's you.
(We'll go out tonight after volleyball, softball and baseball practices. You think I'm joking, don't you?)
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.