Summer is upon us and our kids are getting older, so they aren’t always home with us, especially during the summer. Three of them are spending time away from home at various camps, so we’re finding ourselves shuffling kids here, there and yonder, not only for ballgames as is typical for our family, but also for days or a week at a time. With three of them doing this, we’re finding ourselves coming and going, barely having more family time than passing in the hallway and shouting out a quick goodbye. It’s all good and they are loving their experiences and building memories they will surely treasure forever, but I’m finding myself missing our family time, particularly on Father’s Day as our oldest son just returned last night from a week away and our middle son left for a week at camp just after lunch on a day that we typically spend with my husband’s family celebrating the wonderful patriarchy with which our children are blessed.
Something happens to us as we become parents, something we could never expect. It’s difficult to even explain. It’s something you have to experience before you can understand. There is a love so deeply ingrained throughout the very core of your being, and so very instantaneous, it could only be God-given. And you look at your spouse differently, as well. Chris has been one of my best friends since the very day we met at a State FFA Officer Team Meeting in September of 1989. We’ve been through more ups and downs than I could have ever imagined, but through them all, my love and respect for him has grown daily as I watch how hard he works not only to provide for our family, but also to teach our children Godly principals, and how he models compassion for others, especially when I am on the brink of losing it, whatever bit of “it” I may still have at the moment.
We traveled hundreds of miles to weddings of friends in our courtship days, truly getting to know one another in the confines of the cab of a small pickup truck. Ten weddings, to be exact, that first summer we were dating, two of which were on the same day, on opposite ends of the state. We made it to the ceremony in Chicago and arrived in time for dinner at the other reception in Southern Illinois. We’ve lost friends and loved ones too young and ornery to lose so early in life. We’ve welcomed babies and already said goodbye to one too frail to survive. We’ve buried grandparents and a brother. We’ve watched our family grow and change through marriages, divorces, and more marriages, and we’ve been blessed to grow closer together through each situation; even in the midst of our son’s autism diagnosis.
Statistics show that parents of children on the autism spectrum have an 80% divorce rate – 80%! That’s HUGE! And yet, my husband is my hero. I’m a lucky, blessed wife and mom indeed. To watch him chat with and work with our son brings a peace to my heart I cannot explain. To hear him laughing with our children, I cannot keep from smiling. To see him wrestling with our kids, though I have to bite my tongue to keep from telling them to knock it off before they break something (I’m still a mom!), it lifts my spirits for these are the memories our kids will carry with them into adulthood. I pray these are the moments they will pull on for strength when they are having a rough day. I hope these are the moments they will someday recreate with their own children.
Thank you, Chris, for all you are to me and to our kids. Thank you for the memories you are building with our kids in those moments after dinner when you sit and chat or get down on the floor and wrestle. Thank you for the compassion you teach the others when you hold Ben through a meltdown and quietly talk him down. Thank you for the tender way you are teaching our sons to treat the women who will someday be their wives, and for setting a noble example of how our daughters should expect to be treated, simply in how you treat me. Thank you for loving me and our children just the way we are, for allowing us to be the people we were created to be, and encouraging us to follow our dreams. Thank you for who we are when we are with you.
Happy Father’s Day!