Frustrated by the layer of chaos accumulating on our dining room table turned collect-all-life’s-odds-and-ends holder, I began to make piles of the kids’ school work. I got to Grace’s pile and a lump formed in my throat. My boys’ papers are more refined, black and white, and resemble what you think of when you see “school work.” Grace’s papers are smudged with finger prints, paint, crayon doodles, and her name scrawled on the back of everything in big capital letters. I scooped up the mementos of her last year of preschool and took them to the basement to put them into a special box that I have for each of the kids’ most precious school work. And as I closed the lid, the tears started pouring down my face. My last baby is almost done with preschool.
As if this weren’t sad enough, we will also be saying so long to two of the best human beings I have ever had the honor of calling my children’s teachers since we have no more kids going through the school after Grace. Mrs. Leslie and Mrs. Shannon have been a shining light in our kids’ education. I know it’s just “preschool,” to some, but they have set a foundation for our kids teaching them so many of the basics like writing their names, counting, sorting and pre-reading but more importantly, what it means to follow directions, how to be “bucket-fillers”–how to be a friend to all.
I cannot believe after this month we will be parting ways and never again will I see Ms. Shannon’s beaming smile from the drop-off door or hear Mrs. Leslie singing the line-up song to our kids. We won’t have another Muffins for Moms day or field trip to Turtle Creek. I know we have so many other wonderful memories ahead of us, but these years with our kids’ in Mrs. Leslie and Mrs. Shannon’s class were magical (Oh! And Mrs. Candice when you subbed too!).
I just wanted to take a moment to say a special thank you to you on Teacher Appreciation day and to tell you, there should really be Exemplary Human Appreciation Day where you are the standard. We will always hold a special place in our hearts for you. So if you see me burst into tears on May 23, I hope you know,
it’s not just about my baby growing up. You will be missed greatly! But I know your future students will love you just as much as we do.
As wedding season is upon us, and I happen to personally know a few couples whose marriages are ending, I’ve been feeling very introspective about all of this marriage business.
When Scott and I went through our marriage prep classes, I thought I understood what “weathering difficult times“ meant. I anticipated arguments about who did the dishes last, why the house is so messy, or where did all the all the money go? What I did not understand yet were the arguments about feeling unappreciated. The arguments about feeling invalidated. I didn’t understand how being married to the person that you love, that you could ever feel alone even when you’re in the same room or how you could feel invisible for weeks at a time.
There are arguments we’ve had when I felt like I didn’t even know the person standing opposite of me. His face wasn’t the Scott I knew, but a stranger’s. How could that be the man I promised my life to? And I’m sure he has thought, “Who is this psychopath that I sleep next to?”
So why do it? Why even get mixed up in such messy business as holy matrimony? It’s definitely a lot of trouble and requires compromise to the point that you’re not even sure of what you wanted in the first place. Staying single, or becoming single again, you can live your life on your own terms, guilt free.
Now here is the truth, many days I don’t know why we stay married. I’d like to say it’s love more than an obligation or commitment, but I don’t know that it’s that simple. So I can understand why some people decide to call it quits. If you don’t have it in you to give your all and then a little more, then you’re done.
I think it’s actually that thing I’m always coming back to: Grace. I pray for my best efforts to be enough every day and somehow they are but it’s actually because of grace. It’s because what I bring to our marriage will actually never be enough, but grace makes it enough. The score will never be tied with any couple. One will always do something more or less than the other. I will always tell Scott I love him more than he tells me, but he will always be more financially responsible for us. I will always care less about how clean the floors are but he will always worry less about all the what ifs of life.
It’s our grace that we give to each other that keeps us waking up ready to make the same commitment. It’s never going to look perfect. In fact it’s usually ugly. We’ve both done so much to break this thing. But here we are, bruised and broken, but full of grace for one another.
I’ve often heard people say that raising kids is the hardest job there is. I would argue that it’s actually staying married because you will always be willing to forgive your kids. You will love them unconditionally. It takes a lot more effort to love your spouse that way. You never loved them as an innocent baby. They are not your flesh and blood. It is more work to dig deep and find that motivation to keep going when every fiber of your being is asking “Why? What’s in this for me?”
So if you’re thinking of taking that leap into the unknown, to buy the rings and register for some fancy dishes, those things are your consolation prize for the most difficult journey you’ve ever embarked on. You should know that it’s going to be messy. Bru
tally messy. That island of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean will actually look more appealing some days. But out of it comes the most beautiful imperfect kind of love you will ever know. It’s full of holes and cracks. But it can be solid and true if you give it grace.