Garry and I attempted to celebrate our 12th anniversary last Saturday. Using a birthday gift card, we treated ourselves to a feast at Texas Roadhouse (thanks, Ang and My!). We enjoyed pleasant conversation even though such a boisterous restaurant didn't provide a very intimate atmosphere. After dinner I called the babysitter to confirm the showtime of the movie we planned to see. She didn't answer the phone.
I called again. And again. And again. About 20 minutes later, Zachary finally picked up. There was lots of screaming in the background. The babysitter was totally frazzled and asked us to come home. We were there in 10 minutes.
Garry and I calmed the kids and helped them get to bed. I cleaned up the kitchen. We met on the couch some time later and held hands across the back pillows. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and laughed. The evening had not been quite what we had planned, but it was OK. We are a happy family. We have four great kids and a wonderful life together.
Today, our actual wedding anniversary, was about as far from romantic as a day could be. It started off with a bang -- Zach was late for Cub Scout day camp and forgot his camp shirt. I pulled the shirt out of the dryer and ran it back to the church (in my pajamas) and found part of Zach's lunch on the counter when I got home. While I was in the shower, Gavin spilled a bowl of half-eaten cereal and milk on the couch, and in my haste to clean it up, I broke a glass dish in the sink.
Gavin and Tyler each had meltdowns in the van when we were preparing to meet Garry for a lunch date. I aborted the mission; we had leftover mac-n-cheese at the kitchen table and early naps all around. (Yes, even for the six-year-old.)
At 1:00, a retired friend came to fix a leaking water spigot in the back yard. Garry came home to consult. I tried to sleep (terrible insomnia last night left me dragging today) but the drone of lawnmowers in the green space behind our house kept me awake. I got up and started cleaning the house. I had a feeling that a showing was coming.
At 2:30, Garry and I got the kids out of bed and put them in the van. It was time to head to the "family fireside" at Cub Scout day camp. I picked up a friend's two kids and drove to the campsite on the Air Force base. There we settled in for a 90-minute outdoor program. Keeping the Littles entertained in the stroller was a challenge. The snacks only lasted so long.
Half-way through that event, Garry texted with news: we had a showing at 5:00. I was so grateful the house was mostly prepared! Garry finished the de-cluttering portion of the preparation while Dale finished the spigot. I still needed to mop and vacuum before 5:00. Zach's scout troop was second-to-last in the skit line-up, and then he had to participate in the closing flag ceremony before we could leave.
By the time the crowd said "amen," the kids and stroller and camp chairs were back in the van. Zach and I sprinted to the van and we began the trip home. We pulled into the driveway at 4:45. While I set a world record for vacuuming and mopping, Zach and Tyler changed into their baseball clothes in the garage. I gathered water bottles, cheese sticks, crackers, and popsicles, and then we pulled out of the driveway at 5:01.
We drove to the ball field for Tyler's practice, which didn't start until 5:30. Everyone got out and played on the playground. Garry showed up just as practice started. At 5:45, Zach and I took Garry's car and picked up one of his teammates for their practice (at a different park). I dropped those boys off, then went to Dale's house to pay him for the parts he purchased to fix our spigot. I got to his driveway before I realized I left my purse in the van at Tyler's practice. I stopped at another friend's house to pick up the moving boxes she promised to save for me, but since I arrived later in the day than planned, she had given them to someone else.
I met Garry at Tyler's practice field to pick up my purse. He delivered the payment check to Dale. I went back to Zach's practice. When he finished, I took his friend home, and then we went to our own house, where Garry had just finished bathing the other kids. I started dinner: scrambled eggs, sausage, hash brown cakes, and orange julius. The sink backed up -- three inches of murky water on each side -- but that would have to wait for later. Lexi nursed and Zach showered somewhere in there. We all ate dinner.
And then we had a really sweet moment.
I asked the kids if they realized that 12 years ago today, Garry and I were sealed for time and all eternity in a holy temple. (Of course this had never entered their consciousness.) That sparked a great discussion about preparing for marriage and life and parenthood. We talked about what to look for in an eternal companion, and what their eternal companions might be looking for...in them.
And then, over ice cream pie, I told them the story of how I knew I should marry their Dad.
I told them how lucky they are to have parents who live together, who love each other, and who are totally committed to making their marriage work. It isn't always easy for us, but our kids can always count on parents who will keep trying, even on the hard days. They are part of a forever family.
So tonight, even though Garry and I aren't dining at a fancy restaurant, making plans for an exotic vacation, or doing anything but falling into an exhausted heap on the couch, we are perfectly content.
This is the "happily ever after" we have always dreamed about.