Saturday evening the girls and I packed up and headed to Nags Head. Four Days and Three Nights we stayed gone. We went to the aquarium, played in the sand at the beach, swam at the pool, ran around massive candy shops, and ate the most bangin’ nachos that have ever graced my mouth hole. Let. Me. Tell. You. Every night I felt defeated. Every night I said, “It is time to go home now” and every night I remembered why I really went down there in the first place.
Eric and I were both struggling before I left. I needed to be out more (the obvious extrovert.) I was staying at home way too much and really falling into the abyss that was my own mind. (It never ceases to amaze me how isolating life can feel when you are constantly surrounded by little people.) He needed to be in more (the obvious introvert.) So, I started praying for new eyes on our marriage. What does he need? What do I need? And I acted. Even if I did not want to. I acted.
A two hour trip with two vocal little people is not what I call a vacation, but it is what I needed to change my perspective and give my husband a chance to breathe too.
We did all the things we would not usually do at home. We ate out every night, I did zero laundry (even if it was needed,) and we let the salty, ocean, air refresh us daily. We sat on the back deck and talked over the waves and spent late nights talking to my uncle. It was everything we needed despite Emily’s multiple poop fiascoes and no one getting any sleep.
After two hours riding home with a bored eight year old and a hardcore two year old with anarchy coursing through her veins. I was done. I was over our little vacation and ready to be home again. I was anxious and frustrated and ready to be a family of four because I was done with having these kids by myself. (Sidenote: If you are a single parent or a military spouse y’all are the real MVPs and I hope you know that because I lasted 4 days.)
I was in a mood. I was all up in my own head. He is going to get home and everything will be the same. I just took the kids for 4 days and we are going to be in the same place we were before our trip. Something needed to change before he got home or this time apart was useless. I had three hours to get it together and either emit joy into my home or straight up fury. I prayed and I prayed hard and I did everything I did not want to do. I did the laundry. I picked up the house that so desperately needed to be picked up for the past month. I cleaned up his mess and my own and I prayed over our home.
And when he got home everything was different. I was different. We were different.
I stood in the middle of our kitchen last night looking at the name brand trash bags he brought home from the store earlier that night and I was hit really hard with the realization that this is what making it really is. “Making it” happens in the little steps and not all at once. Making it happens in those little moments when you see that your family is safe, secure, and covered in love.
There was a time when we did not have to buy trash bags because our families graciously and loving took us in and provided when we could not. Then there was a time not too long ago when we could not even think about buying name brand trash bags because we were living off peanut butter. Last night, it took me looking at some stupid Glad trash bags to realize not everything is affordable in every season. Not every season is going to be easy, or enjoyable, but every season will be necessary when you get a chance to look back.
The first few years of our relationship I was stuck inside the mentality that “If he doesn’t change neither will I.” And I can tell you now that the only good that came out of that was the rock bottom we hit about 3 years in.
That name brand, sturdy, never tearing, clinging to the sides no matter what kind of love does not happen overnight.
Marriage is a learning process and the process can only happen if we have eyes and ears for the other person while having the guts to say what we actually need too. Marriage is not always 50/50. Sometimes it is not even 5/100, but on the days when it is “unequal” it is important to still see the person you fell in love with. Eric and I found out we were going to be parents in December of our senior year, as dumb as we both were, I have gotten the privilege of seeing him grow into the wonderful man that he is today. I could have never imagined at 16 that the stud with a heart shaved into his chest hair would be the love of my life and best father to our children 11 years later, but it is something I will hold inside of my heart for the rest of my life and forever after that.