Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Every Right Partner

 I was sitting in my office doing some calendaring for 2023 when I had to pause, look out the window, and whisper a prayer of gratitude for my husband.

He is my best support system and a wonderful partner in life.

Over the course of the past twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-something years we have been together in this journey of life, we have each navigated through challenging career and educational moments, have shared in the joys of parenting, and more moves than either of us can count.

When he and I started out in this life together, we were each in our thirties. I had been married and divorced with sons, while he had dated, he had never had kids.  We took our time in getting to know each other, in committing ourselves to each other, and in getting those next degrees before we planned a wedding, bought a house, and lived together for the first time.

Needless to say, we could write a book about our experiences. 

He had already been a mentor so deeply understood the pre-pubescent male development needed for my two older sons. He brought compassion and a bit of gentle toughness that continued to reap benefits in their lives. My middle son is a committed married father and I know that he gained (even if he doesn't recognize it) his family man ways of being from how my husband provided for and cared for our family.

Over the course of more-years-married than either of us have been single, we have raised five children to adulthood, gained a few more degrees, supported our children's dreams, and figured out some things about how to be in relationships.

We are imperfect people who try to live this thing called life with as much grace and love as we can.

He and I have our quirks. When we got married, it was almost decided that he would do all the cooking and I would supervise the boys in doing the dishes, managing the house, and just overall making sure we were not walking on piles of stuff everywhere. He does not like to tidy up, but after all these years together, I have found him standing over a sink of dishes or vacuuming and he has found me surprising him with a Sunday brunch or two. We navigated.

So it is in this unusually warm Wednesday in this first week of the first month of a new year that I had to pause and just appreciate him.

He has made an impact in the lives of so many people. He has made it possible for our adult children to know they have a safe place to share their dreams, to come home to if needed, and to always know they had our support.

As I am preparing for my continuing transition from being primarily a work-at-home mom raising the last of our children, I am appreciating all it took for him to be the pretty much sole provider of our household. He didn't place demands on income-contributing-employment of me that enabled me to focus on our children, to be an contributing member of the community, to run for office, to write and be published, to go back to school, to preach, to teach, and to do everything else I was able to do when I was not in that full-time, demanding, marketing career that I had when we started out.

We are empty-nesters now and as my youngest daughter is a freshman in college with a busy social schedule, I'm looking at my ways-of-being in the world differently. I don't need to just be hybrid/work-at-home in my writing/ministry/social justice career. I am facing possibilities.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently said that marriage is not 50/50, it can't be.She shared that there were times she was annoyed with Former President Barack Obama, like how many diapers did you change, kind of annoyed. As an Ivy-league trained attorney and the one who was making more money than he was when they met, she put aside some of her aspirations for the aspiration of what they wanted for their family. Now that their children are adults, she is navigating her new identity in intriguing ways, inspiring ways.  

My husband and I are in the same kind of life moment.  

He probably couldn't tell you where everything is in this house like I can and how I kept up with our daughters' doctor appointments and schedules. I didn't have to deal with people in the world the way he did with his career in academia. We balanced.

That balance is what I hope we shared with our children. Two of them are in relationships, one, as mentioned, is married with children.  We have modeled that it is alright to do this dance of time and positioning so that the hopes for your family are realized.

With the right partner and right understanding of each other's gifts, dreams, and aspirations, there is almost nothing that can't be achieved.

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