I may not be the most traditional woman out there, but I know that being happy is a true and powerful form of art, and in a traditional family, one that ultimately flows from the matriarch on down.
I was dreading the return to our home in San Diego after having been gone for 5 months. Anyone who has ever lived here knows why. It's the dust. Before I left, Brother #3 and Long-Time Girlfriend (LTG) helped me move all of our furniture to the center of the rooms and sheet everything. I knew after having been gone last year to Newport for 5 months, that such efforts would be futile, but I had to try. Aside from the normal levels of dust accumulation in this part of the country, our place underwent MAJOR construction in our absence. Not only did my sweet neighbors oversee all construction efforts, upon our return, they deep-cleaned our entire place, including scrubbing our sinks, bathtub, and toilet, washing all of our linens, and putting all of our furniture back. In addition to their amazing show of kindness, Brother #1 and The Curly Blonde put groceries in our fridge and left us sweet treats and a delicious black cherry candle (to create the happy home environment).
I cannot begin to articulate how touched I was by all of this. But that's not all...As only a true BFF would, The Curly Blonde gave me a good talkin' to right after we got home. She told me that I needed to go on a date with my Husband and let them babysit for an evening. She said that it would be important for the core of my family, my marriage. Now, as both my Sister-in-law and my best friend, The Curly Blonde wears 2 hats in my life. She is a classy and caring woman, and she put it to me this way: "Your marriage during the first months of a new baby is like an ultra-marathon through the Sahara in the summertime." She and my Brother are a very happily married couple, just as BAH and I are. We are all disgustingly in love :) So, I heeded her advice and not only went on a date with my very happy Husband but started giving some more thought to how I can both have this new little boy in my life (who completely has my whole heart in his little teeny hands) and also still be a friend to my Husband. It's weird to think that I suddenly have to put so much effort into a relationship that has always come so unbelievably easy with a man who is undoubtedly the sweetest (and most badass) man I have ever known.
This, my friends, is where your training comes in handy: All of our time spent in premarital counseling (even the ones where we rolled our eyes because we said there is no way we will ever go through THAT), all of our awesomely romantic dates, our intimate and awkward conversations, and our vulnerable moments. But aside from the "training" God has also put angels among us, mentors and friends and complete strangers placed perfectly and deliberately in our lives to help us along the way, people like our neighbors, my Sister-in-Law, and our parents, who have supplied meaningful and vivid anecdotes of what it really means to be in a marriage.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of my favorite blog-angels dedicated to the topic of marriage and family. May you find inspiration in their words, as I have. BAH and I both LOVE Making It Last Forever! Kim and Fred are hilarious, and their words are very real. We like how they provide the same story from both the perspective of a husband and of a wife. Warren Baldwin over at the Family Fountain has also provided many encouraging words. He is a pastor, author, husband, and father, not to mention a gifted writer. Sugarpie Farmhouse is a blog that I have enjoyed for quite a while now. I actually stumbled upon it a couple of years ago when I was looking for a recipe for old-fashioned buttermilk pie. I remember when I first read Aunt Ruthie's blog, I thought she was a bit on the eccentric side :) She is a wife and mom of a big, sweet family and a total girly-girl. But I love her zest for life and her ability to see and create joy in her life. We underestimate the power of joy, of sunshine, and of the senses.
May you all be vigilant enough to recognize your own life's angels when they appear, in whatever form that may be.