Tomorrow marks 16 years since the day I married James. To say these 16 years have been easy would be to lie. They haven't been easy. But they've been worth it. Everything. Worth it.
Avery told me today that she realized it was 5 years of marriage before we had kids. "Why was that, mom?" she wanted to know. Good question. When James asked my dad if he could marry me, my dad said I wasn't ready. And honestly, he was right. I wasn't. We did a heck of a lot of growing up in those 5 years. We made some mistakes that should have ended our marriage, but we fought for it and came out on top. Those years were terribly difficult, but those years were very necessary. Looking back, those were the years that taught us how to be a couple. They taught us that just because you never fight doesn't mean that you have a great relationship. They taught us that communication was key. The rest is just details, but you must must MUST communicate. Those years taught us to fight for what's worth it, to let go of what isn't, and to love with all your heart. We learned that our marriage was not 50/50 but 100/100. And we gave it 100% each. Those years broke our hearts, but not our spirits.
And then came children. The first one, bursting into the world with rapid speed for a first delivery, but yet, something was so not right. Those days and weeks were agonizing. There was something so.not.right yet our hearts swelled with pride. We loved him. He needed us. And that was all that mattered. The months and first year were filled with doctors appointments, therapists, diagnoses and a constant longing for "typical". Typical was not to be for our first born. Once that desire began to wane...no, once we decided that we didn't necessarily even WANT it anymore, we began to relax. We loved, no matter what. We accepted, unconditionally. We saw that slow was fast enough, and we embraced it.
Of course, it wasn't perfect, and we didn't do it perfectly. We grieve sometimes, and that's ok.
The second born, just 22 months after the first, was sugar and spice and everything nice. We marveled in her easiness. We marveled at how easily she figured things out. She was, by our standards, a prodigy! She was so easy to love, and continues to be so.
The third we waited a bit for, but he was worth the wait. He was so SO sweet. You've never met a sweeter baby. He was amiable and quiet and slept through the night lickety-split. His older siblings adored him and so did we all. He was SO easy, in fact, that I talked James into "just one more" when he was only 10 months old...
Halfway through that "just one more" 4th pregnancy came the news that just one more was going to be TWO MORE. Twins. And oh, was I overwhelmed at the thoughts. On July 8, 2009 those identical twin girls came into our family, moving us from a family of 6 for 3 minutes' worth of time to a family of 7 forever. Their first year was a blur. I survived. I made it. Oh it was hard, and I had 4 in diapers for quite some time. But I was thankful. Grateful for the ability to carry these precious ones to term and care for them while James worked hard to provide for our family.
When the twins were not quite 2 they became sick. It wasn't your usual sick, it was the inability for them to move their bodies. They were locked inside there, for weeks on end. We were terrified, but they slowly came around. They were back to high chairs for feeding and eating from a spoon instead of from their own hands. But they were coming around. And then. The unthinkable happened. On their 3rd birthday we came home to decorate the cupcakes we'd baked that morning and found our beautiful home, the home James had spent years remodeling, fully engulfed with flames. The horror of standing in your yard, watching everything, everything you loved and had painstakingly chosen as your identity disappear with you being helpless to stop it...indescribable. But we had each other. We were all together. We were heartbroken, but we were together. We had our camper to sleep in. We had loads of love from our friends and family.
And we've rebuilt. We live in a home that we've rebuilt that is fully handicap accessible for those twins, now diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. I am decorating it and making it mine again. There are holes in the walls and scratches in the floors already, but it is ours. There's landscaping to be done. There's a playset to be put together. And there's loads of love inside.
Tomorrow marks 16 years of marriage. We've experienced more than most. We've loved harder and cared deeper and feared more than most. But through it all we have each other. And we have the 5 beautiful, imperfect children we've created. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
I love you James. Happy Anniversary.