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The gift of ordinary time

November 21, 2017

Today marks 8 years since I walked down the aisle to find him at the end of it. Never mind that my parents’ elderly friend confusedly tried to wander in through the front doors of the church 10 seconds before my father and I made our grand entrance (RIP, Mr. Fisher) or that our caterers showed up late and failed to set the tables for the reception (thank God for our ludicrous wedding party: 18 attendants in all), or that the liquor store neglected to deliver half our order until 3 hours into the reception (mom and dad had a solid supply of Fat Tire for months. Months, I tell you.) or even that Carey Pearsall got locked in the men’s room for close to an hour or that the thermostat was broken in the reception hall.

Really, I’m over it. All but the catering piece.

And what we have now, looking back over an entire octave of married love, was well worth the logistical difficulties the day of: 4 lovely children. 5 if you count the one stubbornly stuck under my ribs, pleading for club soda and MSG. A beautiful, imperfect home that was so worth the wait. A busy, crammed to the brim life of noise and color and not a ton of sleep… but more than we’ll be getting 6 weeks from now, this I know for sure.

A year ago I have to admit, I was feeling pretty defeated by this whole marriage business.

Not our specific marriage, per se, but just the general day to day grind of the thing. We were living in a house that seemed like it was personally out to get us, parenting a bunch of kids who were too little to be particularly helpful, and battling a seemingly endless string of childhood illnesses and costly home repairs that stretched long past winter well into spring. There was nothing very wrong, but we seemed mired in domestic drudgery. And I forgot to be grateful.

I forgot that for years before I met him, I used to sometimes cry at friends’ weddings, and not for altruistic reasons.

I forgot that I begged God for years to reveal His path for me, and that once I was pretty sure of it I switched over to begging Him to reveal the person I’d walk it with.

I’d forgotten every bad first date, every heart break, every lonely night spent at the gym or Target or some terrible party I didn’t really want to be at in the first place. I’d forgotten that I fell asleep most nights with a large, essentially feral cat curled up at the end of my bed, wondering whether he’d be ushering me into my 30’s, harbinger of an inevitable lifestyle to come.

In short, I’d forgotten to fall on my knees and thank God for the remarkable way that He had answered my prayers to a T (taller than me, smarter than me, stronger than me, holier than me). Instead, I’d quickly moved on to the “next, please” phase because that’s what humans do: we long for the next item on the checklist, hoping that when the baby at last arrives, when the newborn at last sleeps through the night, when the ring is at last on the finger, when the big promotion finally comes through…all will be well.

It’s a moving target though, isn’t it? Even now I’m struggling to tamp down the longing for “the next thing,” willing the 5-6 weeks separating me from delivering this latest addition to pass in an instant, and with them, the sciatica, the hip pain, the heartburn, the tears.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful because this life is spectacularly blessed, and I know it. But isn’t it so easy to lose sight of the gift of so-called “ordinary time?”

And the 8 years we’ve been wed? Most of it has been ordinary time. Moments of breathtaking joy and beauty, but lots and lots and lots of moments of long car rides and feverish toddlers and dishes and laundry and bills and catching one another’s eyes too infrequently at the end of a long, hard day.

Most of the days have been long, and many have been good.

When I think that less than a decade has passed and that our marriage is still very much in its infancy, it boggles the mind to imagine what may transpire over the next 40 years. (Probably not 5 more kids, but at the rate we’re going, ?????)

The phenomenon of the seven year itch seems, to me, to be a miring down in the ordinary; a sort of loss of vision for the extraordinary.

A kind of loosening of the expectations and sliding of the standards. And while some of this is normal and inevitable and even good (because honeymoon shape this body ain’t), other aspects are less than ideal.

I need to remind myself in the least romantic way – like maybe even a post it note – not to take it for granted. Not to take him for granted. Not to allow myself to become so consumed by the daily grind that I forget to pause and give thanks for the bread which that labor provides, the very real sustenance by which God is sustaining us and our love, building our family and establishing a household.

So here’s to cherishing the ordinary. Here’s to the reality that the babysitter already cancelled, the gift card we were planning to use probably wouldn’t have covered both entrees, anyway, and that the little boy who is moaning about an aching neck in the next room over is probably going to be in our room at some point tonight with a temperature and a story to tell.

I love you, honey. I hope we get to do this till we’re 80. I hope you know how grateful I am that you like reading aloud and wrestling stinky little boys, and that you’re never too tired to do the dishes. Thanks for having me in sickness and in health, at 140 pounds and at, uh, more than that, and in the harrowing moments between hospital admittance and the anesthesiologist’s arrival.

Cheers, to ordinary time.

13 Comments

  • Reply BridgetAnn November 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    This is really sweet. And insightful.

  • Reply Shannon Hurban November 21, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    My hubby and I share the same anniversary and are also celebrating 8 years today. Substitute a dog for the feral cat and 3 kids for your 5 and our story is very much like yours. This is a reminder to me to be grateful for my blessed life in the midst of all the dirty diapers and many piles of laundry 😉

  • Reply Kristy Regester November 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

  • Reply Tara November 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Perfect!

  • Reply Emma November 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Dude, just be grateful that someone married you and didn’t lie to you about his family.

    Seriously.

  • Reply Lisa November 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    We just entered year seven and this mirrors SO many of my thoughts- especially about the single years with pleas to God to send me someone…so easy to forget how He answers prayers!
    Thanks for this, and Happy Anniversary!

  • Reply Sarah November 22, 2017 at 4:16 am

    I loved the photos from the beginning and to the now. My Sweetie and had had our 41st anniversary in October. Don’t hope your marriage only lasts until you are in your 80’s. Rich and I are 65. It’s not gonna be long enough to have his hand to hold if we only go another 15 years.

  • Reply Brigitte November 22, 2017 at 5:07 am

    My husband and I just celebrated 35 year’s together on November 20. It is good to hear your relatively young observations. They still apply! Though seeing 80 as a goal when your husband is 72 sounds wrong! Congratulations! Keep on keeping on, as we baby boomers used to say.

  • Reply Christina- catholicmomri November 22, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Congratulations!! What a beautiful, sweet and real testimony to following God’s plan. God bless you and your family!

  • Reply Laura @ Life is Beautiful November 22, 2017 at 11:44 am

    So, so good!!! I waited eight years after college to find my husband and I remember all those nights of struggle and prayer!! Yet here I am, pregnant with baby #2, and finding reasons to complain about the mundane….also forgetting the surgery and Napro appointments to help me with my infertility issues. Shame on me. And praise you, God. And thank you, Jenny, for knocking some Thanksgiving sense into me. 😉

  • Reply Cami November 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Happy anniversary! Great observations! So true!

  • Reply Rachel Mosley November 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    To ordinary time! We have five, too. I feel this way often. We had such trouble getting the first baby and still I complain now – too few blessings and now too many blessings. Poor sweet Jesus.
    We put out our first album this year. It’s indie folk music, and we titled it Ordinary Time in line with your same sentiment. (If you want to listen to it it’s free on Noise Trade or on ITunes.)

  • Reply Kaylene December 2, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Jenny!! Obviously I’m late to catching up on your blog, given that I deleted Facebook an Instagram…how I’ve missed it! As I always say we are so similar and you write what I wish I could, seeing as how it seems our brains are like.the same.
    Anyways …. we also have the November wedding thing in common too! Except ours was a year before on 11/22
    Such a beautiful time to get married in my opinion.
    Also commenting here for other posts. I too love me a dining room table. It’s the one material thing I dream after often. Currently though we still have the 30+ year old hand me down from my parents that my husband keeps wood gluing the legs back onto. So ya know, thankful for such a handy guy 🙄
    Yours is exactly what I want. So glad you got one!
    And I love your word choice in the fertility/marriage post. So on point. Just yes to it all.
    The advent post had me cracking up. As I only have 3 kids, I am still in the fun annoying phase of liturgical alignment but I am in solidarity with you sister on the pregnant advent. My second was due on Christmas Eve, but luckily that’s when he came home from the hospital so we did enjoy Christmas morning at home. I did zero advent living that year with a 22 month old as my only kiddo and just having moved into a new house…
    Anyways all of this to say,
    It was so lovely catching up on your blog and God bless your family and end of pregnancy!

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