In just over a month I will celebrate 12 years married to the most amazing woman this world has ever known. I think back to the days when we met in college. As so many of us were working our way to maturity she was, well, already there. I can think back to the first time I saw her.
School had not started yet. I flew in from Florida two weeks early to get settled in the dorm. One day I was asked to go over to the main school building for a reason that I simply don't remember. What I do remember is opening the front door and there sitting in one of the armchairs in the foyer was this beautiful young lady. She had hair that fell just below her shoulders and framed a face with beautifully toned smooth skin. I do not remember what she was wearing, I simply remember thinking she was beautiful. By the time I made it to college I had become very adept at determining which girls were out of my league, and clearly this young lady would have no interest in a shy, pale geek. I picture myself saying hello that day, but thinking back on my old self, I’m pretty sure I flushed to red, nodded, and went my way. Yet that moment and the image of her sitting there are etched in my minds eye.
It would take in excess of a year before any real interaction would take place between us, and then all that transpired in the final months of our sophomore year could really fill another post of its own. Let’s just say that by the time we reached the end of our second year my status among the ‘leagues’ had risen and I had gained the eye of her that was to become my best friend. We started dating, got engaged, and then married, all within 13 months.
Two and a half years later she would give me my first child, a boy. It was from then on I would watch as my best friend and wife would become a mother, and a fine one at that. She would teach one more year and then step away to come home and devote her life to our children.
At first it was hard. We would become homeowners and then parents of two children. About the time we thought we could manage two, a third announced his presence before we were ready for him. Then again when are you ‘ready’ for any child. We can think so, but then we are proved wrong.
I don’t want this post to be about us, but about her. Now we have five, yes, five. It gets us looks and comments, but then again most are good. Many will tell my wife, “You are a better woman than I.” To which I would respond, “Yes. Yes she is, but we knew that before you saw the children.” You see my precious wife spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year caring for our children. Does she complain? Sure, it’s not very often and anyway, don’t you complain about the two you have? The thing is, you usually don’t hear the complaints, because there is nothing you can do about it. That is left between us because we raise our children, not our community. She gives all of herself to make sure they are fed, bathed, educated, and cared for. She cleans up after them when they are young and teaches them to clean up after themselves as they get older. She cooks and bakes for them and then teaches them to bake and cook. She teaches them, not only how to make a mess, but how to learn from the mess or the process that lead to the mess. She allows them to combine stuff in a jar and keep it for weeks as a ‘science experiment’ knowing full well nothing is going to happen. She allows them to make mistakes so they can learn from them, yet keeps them from injury. (No broken bones yet…) She listens to whining and complaining and skillfully redirects the energy to something productive. (This, I must say, has always amazed me.)
I could keep going and going, for quite a while, but I bet most of you would stop reading, if you haven’t already. Most of all though she loves them. Like any ‘good’ mother she not only cares for her young, she loves them beyond all things. No matter how they behave. No matter how large of a mess they leave for her to clean up. No matter how many times they ask the same question in ten seconds. She loves them the same. All five of them. I struggle with treating them fairly and not having different standards for each, but she seems to have already perfected it.
I asked her what she wanted for Mother’s day this year and she told me nothing. (Like, I bought her flowers and she reiterated what she said.) So instead of jewelry or kitchen gadgets, I wrote a post to tell the whole world, or well anyone who will listen, just how much I appreciate the woman that has given me children.
Erika Leaf, I want to thank you for all that you sacrifice to take care of all