On Tuesday, Steve and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary!! Wahoo!! In many ways the day was filled with ordinary activity - work, chores, errands, feeding hungry tummies, running boys to weight lifting and swimming lessons, and me trying not to dwell on reasons why my uterine tenant will not heed his/her eviction notice.
Despite our flying through the day in different directions, we did live those ordinary hours with an extra-ordinary awareness of and a deeper gratitude for our love and our life together, and especially for the beautiful family that God has graciously blessed our marriage with.
The night before Steve dug out our wedding video, VHS style. I'm pretty sure it's the first time we had actually watched it together, and with the kiddos encamped around us, it was more hilarious than sentimental! They all quickly commented on how the TV must not be working because the picture was dull and distorted. Welcome to the pre-high-def decades, sons. The only one who took the trip down memory lane seriously was Benedict, who kept trying to shush his brothers' hilarious narrations of the event.
Roll the clock back 14 years and everyone looks just a skosh different, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles included. George wanted to know why he wasn't in the video, so we had to clear that one up for him. He also needed to know exactly how long it took me to look that fancy, after which Steve lovingly remarked, "You were so beautiful that day, honey." He was promptly scolded by Andrew for using the past tense in his complement, "Were, Dad, were???"
Andrew's analysis of the wedding was that getting married is a lot like the Progressive Auto insurance slogan - "It's Better When You Bundle." When you get married you bundle your love and it's just better that way.
The new hashtag for wedded bliss this summer? #bundle
After enjoying a lovely Italian supper together that evening we came home to a quiet house, everyone tucked in and snoozing songfully, and found the most amazing "Happy Anniversary" message taped to our door...
Elena, a friend of ours who is staying with us this summer to help me with boys and baby, taped their collective message to our door so we would be sure to see it when we got home. We immediately fell on our knees, together scanning every square inch of their artwork, savoring every single silly little drawing and thoughtful notes of sweet cheer and thanksgiving over and over.
Their gift was by far the sweetest highlight of our day.
My personal favorites were all the stick drawings they created of Steve and his big biceps working out at Cross Fit. Scream!
Sometimes you wonder if the little things you do every single day for your children, the example you try to set, lessons you sincerely teach, sacrifices you offer really do make a difference. You wonder, in the midst of their fighting or in moments of ingratitude and selfishness, if any of your love is really reaching your kids' core - the place deep down where you know the goodness is anchored and will remain there for life.
You wonder as well, if all that love and sacrifice you give is strong enough to uproot the countless shortcomings and all too many mistakes you've made over the years as a parent.
Then, you see this:
Exhale. There is love here. A real love that they see and know and feel. They are living it, and they are thankful for it.
And there's this:
I have not forgotten the words of a wise friend who once told me, "We parent on our knees." This is truth beyond telling for any parent who desires more than anything for their children to one day know Heaven as home. But, it's also true that every once in a while, it's supremely comforting to be able to rise up from our knees and see the fruits of sacrifice, if only in a note posted to a door, and to celebrate them all.