On the man in our lives

It was another full weekend, with a celebration of our 13th anniversary (which is actually this coming Tuesday), and of course, Father’s Day today.

I’d love to be able to take credit for picking the man who has made such a remarkable husband for 13 years and a truly show-stopping dad for a little over five. But really, I’m not sure how much credit I deserve. I was a very young – and as a result, fairly ignorant – 18-year-old when we first started dating. I was a still very young – and still fairly ignorant – 23-year-old when we got married. A lot of those kinds of relationships don’t last, for good reason. Who really knows at 18 what they want from life or what kind of person they will become? When you start married life at 23, there is still a lot of growing and changing to do. How do you know you will continue to share the same values and want the same things from life?

The truth is, we didn’t. After five years of dating, we knew each other well, and we understood each other’s characters. But in the end, we took a gamble. To varying extents, marriage is always a gamble. We gamble that the person we’re marrying is who we think they are. We gamble that we are ourselves who we think we are. We gamble that the character and values we share with our spouse will remain constant enough to allow us to continue on the same life path together.

I was confident in my decision at 23, but Jon has surprised me. We have our daily frustrations, same as any couple. Sometimes, I mutter about murdering him in his sleep as I clip in the car seat he left sitting out. But as a husband and father, he has blown me away. In his steadiness and patience, in the depth of his love for me and our kids, in his wisdom and spiritual depth, in his incredibly hard work, he has far surpassed anything I imagined when we said our vows. Life has thrown us some surprises and will probably throw us a few more. But I believe deep down to the soles of my feet that God knew every twist and turn, and He brought us to each other, to lighten the load when it’s heavy and to multiply the many joys as they come. The gamble isn’t so scary that way.

Jon still makes me laugh. We still enjoy each other’s company above any other. And my kids are blessed beyond measure with a dad who is not only perfectly capable of caring for them, but who truly loves to do it. When I left them with daddy for five days last weekend, he looked forward to the time. I came home to kids who clearly thrived while I was away and a daddy who lit up when he told me about the fun they’d had together. He came away with a little better appreciation for what I juggle every day, but he loved that uninterrupted time with his kids, and they loved it, too.

That’s the man who has so surpassed my 23-year-old expectations. That’s the only guy who could live up to the very high bar my daddy set. That’s my husband, and the father of my children.

After all that, I’ll leave you with a few pics from our night on the town.

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Goofy mirror selfie on our way out the door to dinner

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Father’s Day at the zoo

The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee hosted a Summer Family Picnic at the Zoo for member families today. It was a great event, with about 400 people in attendance. I wish I’d taken the time to photograph the fantastic kids (and some adults) with Down syndrome who were there. I met several families with little ones Lina’s age. I love knowing Lina will grow up alongside other kids with Down syndrome. My hope is that she will be a fully-integrated part of her community, in church, in school and in our lovely city, but also strongly connected to a group of people who share this part of her experience. There were so, so many beautiful kids, as varied and full of life as any group of kids ever is. I think she will find many friends among them.

We brought along both sets of grandparents, two uncles and an aunt, and we took full advantage of our time at the zoo. Temps hit the low 90s, so we sweated it out and finally hauled our weary selves and our well-laden Radio Flyer out the exit a half-hour before closing. After a lovely Father’s Day dinner together at a little Persian restaurant, we ferried two exhausted kiddos home and talked about how awesome it is that our families enjoy being together. Also: this family has about the best collection of dads you’ll find anywhere.

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Corin adored the carousel. 

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Lina did not.

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An hour-and-a-half nap in the shade, and she was ready for the padded little-kid playground.

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