I remember my mom encouraging us to wait. “Maybe after he finishes college?” She didn’t waste too much time on the topic, knowing we weren’t going to listen.
I remember a server at my wedding reception sneaking me a glass of champagne, and then getting carded for an R rated movie on my honeymoon.
I remember moving into our first (pretty crappy) apartment together in Colorado Springs and how thrilled I was that it had a fireplace. I remember our (also crappy) metal futon couch and our (the crappiest) falling-apart vehicles. I also remember how happy we were that day.
I remember struggling so much that first year. Trying to make ends meet (unsuccessfully) & living across the country from all our friends & family. Fighting. A lot. Crying in my car wondering what kind of horrible mistake I had made. Maybe mom was right.
I remember moving back to the Cincinnati area, tail between our legs, after what felt like a failed first year as a married couple. Broke and frustrated.
I remember settling into good jobs & a new apartment. Then we moved to another apartment because our neighbors were too loud. We did that a lot.
I remember calling 911 in the middle of the night when you were working the late shift because I thought we had a gas leak & my death was imminent. I remember calling you, freaking out, telling you to come home – and the firemen bringing out to me a plastic spatula that I had let fall to the bottom of the dishwasher that was burnt up, smelly, and the culprit of my fear. Oops.
I remember walking to our car to go to work together, navigating the fresh snow and packed ice on the ground. I (sort of) remember falling – and remember waking up again to you shaking me and yelling my name. So afraid for me.
I remember the dogs. We really tried on that dog thing. I remember giving up after the 4th adopted dog and deciding kids had to be easier.
I remember figuring out I was wrong.
I remember all the nights of you studying. My God, I thought college would never end. I remember feeling like we’d go weeks without seeing each other, but knowing you were doing it for the good of our family.
I remember moving to Oklahoma to try something new and live near your family. I remember the first temp job I had there & how no one talked to me for 2 months. I remember how lonely I felt, and then realized how lonely you must have felt living away from your family all the years prior in Cincinnati.
I remember deciding to try out “that photography thing” and falling in love with it. I remember you telling me to pull the trigger on buying a website & new equipment, and also saying “I really hope you stick with this & it’s not like the dog thing.”
I remember walking into a hospital room together, not fully understanding how much our lives would change when we walked back out.
I remember watching you hold our first baby. I remember your tears. I remember your big hands fumbling that tiny baby bottle to feed him. I remember feeling like my heart was going to actually explode with love while watching you two bond.
I remember the sleepless night. Oh, the sleepless nights. I remember trying to figure out parenting together. I remember the confusion. I remember you changing middle of the night diapers & watching NYPD Blue reruns on the couch with our baby at 2am when he decided to be (wide) awake.
I remember not showering for… well, a long time. I don’t quite remember too much from this period of life – but I do remember that I constantly looked like a train wreck (see aforementioned sleepless nights). I remember you never mentioning how rough I looked.
I remember that time my friend & I convinced you how great you’d look with a shaved head, and then taking a razor to your scalp. Sorry about that.
I remember deciding to move back to Cincinnati after your company tried to move us to St. Louis. I remember that you were kind of keen on St. Louis but I hated the idea. You let me pick.
I remember buying our first house. After years of living in apartments or rental homes, we had a place with our name on it. I remember the (exhaustive) search and finally agreeing on a place together.
I remember babies two and three. The (miserable) pregnancy and the (miserable-r) birth. I remember you holding my hand through all million-hours of labor. I remember you telling me how strong I was. I remember thinking you were a liar.
I remember watching you with two babies at once. Watching big brother with the little brothers. I remember my heart actually hurting with love to see all my boys together.
I remember realizing that all the books that say that women are better at multi-tasking were totally right.
I remember learning to love late nights of movie or tv-show binge watching with you. I remember having to change my mindset on what “date night” consisted of, while I hit pause every 20 minutes to check on a fussy baby.
I remember the final pregnancy and how scary it was. I remember you being the calm one while I panicked. I remember the days in the hospital leading up to her birth and your voice soothing me during surgery. I remember you telling me how tiny she was while they whisked her off to the NICU.
I remember you staying at the hospital all night long with her. Rocking and reading. Reading and rocking.
I remember bringing her home & the moment that I (finally) had my family of 6 all under one roof.
I remember buying a new house & moving again. And swearing we weren’t doing that again. (So far, so good.) I remember being so excited for the new place & you letting me do whatever I wanted in terms of decorating without having to pass anything by you.
I remember watching you with our little girl as she grows. Teaching her to not be afraid and to like dirt and sticks. I remember the look of terror on your face the first time she cried just because she didn’t like the way you glanced at her. Get used to that.
I remember you taking all our kids for hike upon hike. Teaching all of them to tie their shoes, dry themselves off after a shower, load the dishwasher, take the trash out, read a book, and skip a rock. You teach them independence in a way that I’m horrible at.
I remember the first time I watched you shoot a wedding with me. Watching you help my brides, bringing them water & holding their bouquets. Letting me bite your head off when I was stressing and needed you to do something. I think that’s still the only time I can get away with being so bossy to you.
I remember the countless number of times I’ve needed a hug and you’ve given one. How you’ve said “I’m sorry” more easily than I have. The times that something really wonderful or really awful has happened & you’re the first person I want to talk to. The times that we’ve walked through (actual) hell together and managed to just grasp each others hands tighter. The times I needed to travel & explore something just for me & you letting me go. The times you’ve fought for me. The times you’ve fought for our family. The times you’ve been a complete moron all for the sake of a laugh when you can tell I need one.
I remember walking down the aisle to you 15 years ago today. Knowing we were young, but knowing that just meant we would grow up together. And we have.