Thursday, March 15, 2012

15 Years

Fifteen years ago today two kids dressed in their finest showed up to a stone house overlooking the Willamette River. It was raining that day so the photographer had them stand together under the covering along the front walkway setting up just the right shot, the one that would sit on their mantel for years to come. On the Ides of March, these two kids made promises to one another in front of their friends and families.

We had no idea what our pledges really meant, what our vows would require of us.

I was talking to my husband the other day about how much life has changed in these 15 years. When we were first married I was still finishing grad school before starting my teaching career. We were challenged in our early years of marriage by chronic fatigue, an all consuming job, and infertility. We moved and moved again. We got pregnant with Hockey Boy and then promptly moved overseas. We moved back again. Our first child was born and I became a mother which changed my whole life and my whole identity. I was now a stay at home mom. We moved back overseas and became pregnant with Middle Man. We moved home again.

I now had two kids 15 months apart. We settled down. We bought a family home two blocks from the high school. I don't remember a lot from those early years. Might be a side effect of the sleep deprivation. Slowly life felt manageable. We went to Disneyland with our little boys and had fun. And then we had Little One. Three kids less than four years apart top to bottom rocked our world.

And then we moved... again. And my husband's job became all consuming... again. It was hard on our marriage. We drifted apart because neither of us had anything left over at the end of our day to give to the other person. Eventually this became untenable.

My husband found a new job back "home" in Oregon and we moved back into our family home, putting the furniture where it had been before. Falling back into our life so easily. The kids grew and one fall day they all were in school, if only a few hours a week for Little One. I was deepening friendships and finding my own place in the world. A place not defined by my relationship to my kids or my husband. Life was good.

But God called... again. And we moved... again. Back to where we were in the Bay Area before. The place that had almost taken us down. And it was scary to consider. Would things be different this time?

I have had my moments of insecurity, of uncertainty. I have gotten lost a bit along the way. But that is me, not this place. This time though we are in it together. And that has made all the difference.

I look back at 15 years and am amazed at all that has changed in my life. I was talking to my husband about this the other day and he said something that really surprised me. While I have experienced a ton of change, for him, life really hasn't changed that much. For 15 years, he has gone to an office, done his work, and then come home to his family. Locations may change but his life really hasn't changed that much. Work then home. While my life, my identity, have changed so drastically in these 15 years. From being a first year teacher, to a first time mom, to a mom of three boys, to a mom of school age kids, my role, my world, has changed every couple of years. I have had to rediscover myself with each of these events.

So for me 15 years feels like a long time when you look back over the timeline of our marriage. And while it hasn't always been easy or pretty, I have taken this journey with the best man I know. And we have had a lot of fun and a lot of joy along the way.

If I had to do it all over again, I would choose him again and again and again.

God gave me the greatest gift of my life when my husband first knocked on the door of my apartment looking to borrow something from my roommate.

Thanks for all the escorts to the 7/11, for all the long conversations, the travels. Thanks for the hard work you do every day to take care of your family. Thanks for your encouragement to become whatever God has called me to do. Thanks for loving me as I am. Thanks for listening and caring about what I have to say.

I am looking forward to the next 65 years to come!


  1. So true, about life changing for the woman and not so much for the man. But you have done it with so much grace, Jen!

  2. Oh, Jen, my eyes are welled up with tears. This is beautiful -- and your eyes for all the change the Father has carried you through makes me want to look back, too.  And your words to your husband here -- "all the escorts to the 7/11"  -- just awesome.   You make me both cry and smile. I am so grateful to have your beautiful words with me throughout this day. Love to you, dear friend.  

  3. You are part of our story since we got engaged during our trip to the Bay Area for your wedding. We actually live down the street from the hotel where we stayed that weekend. 

  4. I never realized how similar our "stories"  were before.  Congrats on 15 years and cheers to the next 65!!