This Is As Good As It Gets

I don’t have a very good memory. Things that go into my head get lost a lot.
I like to think that it’s because I’ve got so much knowledge from all my years of living that there just isn’t enough room, and so I have to filter out a lot of things.

But the reality is that it’s mainly just useless Disney trivia, a lot of facts about Abraham Lincoln, and the entire script to Forest Gump.

Either way, I don’t have a lot of moments that stick out in my mind, so the ones that do usually mean something.
I have this distinct memory of a field day in the fourth grade. Mom took off work for the day to volunteer at the parent booth, and the Italian ice truck came to the school just for us. I ran in the sack race and won a medal, and momma was there cheering, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a Friday night my senior year of high school. About eight of my closest friends were all crowded onto a single trampoline with a bunch of comforters. We were staring at the stars and waxing poetic about the fear of graduation and the future and how much we loved one another, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of sitting in the front room of the house on Chestnut Street my junior year of college. I was surrounded by the greatest women in the world and we were all singing along to ‘Forever Young’ and with one another, thinking it could be true. We really could be forever young. I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking through the Colonnade after a Saturday afternoon tailgate and football game, holding hands and laughing with a cute boy with dimples and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. We ran through the fountains and back to the Castle, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking down the aisle of a church with that same blue-eyed guy waiting at the end. I remember the part of the service that he leaned down and washed my feet to promise he’d always love me and serve me. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of walking on a park track, 9-months pregnant, holding the dog’s leash while the sun was setting, huffing and puffing attempting to encourage Rosebud to just be born already. We got in the car to drive home, and Doc said: “This might be the last day when it’s just the two of us.” And it was. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember having contractions and thinking: “This is absolutely as bad as life gets.”
Pause. Shudder.

I have a distinct memory of being in the hospital the night after Rosebud was born and looking over to see Doc holding her and staring at her for hours. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a summer afternoon that we all three spent together, working in the garden, swimming, and the smell of Doc’s grill. We spread out a blanket in the back yard and had a picnic, and ended the day on the patio swing. It felt like nothing in the world could touch the three of us. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

Now. Please don’t get me wrong. These perfect days–more like snapshots–were surrounded by moments and days where I just didn’t know if I would make it through. But memory often colors those bad days.

In every season of life, I keep thinking I’ve peaked. Nothing could be better. My heart it so nostalgic, and it  aches to see chapters close and these seasons end. I forget to look ahead toward what good could come, and instead I dread the unknown.
I fear the things I can’t see.

So if today you’re sitting on the cusp of the unknown–take heart in knowing that there are good days ahead. Even if you think that today is as good as life can get.
Rest in the peace of the One who knows exactly what tomorrow holds.
Rest in the peace of the One who is preparing you for your best day. When it really will be as good as life could get.

And take heart in the fact that somewhere out there, I’m just as scared sh*tless as you are.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

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Spring Break As a Mom: Heavy on the Spring, Light on the Break

Along with real housewife, mom, landscaper, maid, nurse, and official backyard pooper scooper I also wear the student hat. That’s one I just can’t seem to take off. 20 years and counting. And last week was Finals Week: where everything that can go wrong will.

We run on a full time block schedule. So we take courses for 8 weeks, have finals, then begin our next 8 week block. It took some adjusting to because my body was stuck in semester and you can’t teach an old sorority girl new tricks. It’s super fast-paced, and pretty intense and that’s the way I like life, so I get by. Also. If you have a really terrible professor, you’re only stuck with them for half the time. Heyyyyyyy.

I always have the best intentions to begin preparing for my finals far in advance. But after working 20 hours, cooking enchiladas, and trying to fit in some solid time with Doc and Rosebud, the time gets whittled away and I’m left scrambling.

Then, and here’s the kicker, I scheduled an interview, a conference call, and a dentist appointment all in one week. Guess which week. Go ahead, guess. Yup. Finals week. Because apparently I’m an unconfirmed sadist.

But I wasn’t panicked. No. I can get this all done. Where’s my cape? Hand me my cape! Watch me work(fail) mere humans!!! I was feeling cocky. And pride always goeth before the fall. And before the emotional breakdown.

Rosebud turned on me. The Benedict Arnold spiked a fever Sunday night and the days dedicated to studying started to look less hopeful. I should’ve known. It’s the curse of finals’ week. So everyday that week I spent at home with my snotty, grumpy, feverish 2-year-old, all the while making calls and doing policy reports for work and attempting to study and complete final exams and 15 page reviews over education finance laws. Gag me with a peanut butter covered spoon.

But there was a light at the end of this tunnel: Spring. Break. I knew that if I could only make it to Friday at midnight, the week from H.E.double L would end, and I would immediately slip into the cuddly comfort of sleeping late and relaxing on my very last Spring Break.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah. Right.

The weekend leading up to Spring Break was spent in bed alright, sick as a dog. Rosebud breathed on me just one too many times. Started off with a real bang.

Monday: I spent an hour on the phone with Best Buy trying to figure out where my Grandmother’s t.v. that I ordered her was. For the record, nobody knew. And then the next six hours catching up on the mending/hemming I’d been putting off for 6-months. I hemmed 10 pairs of John’s dress pants, 2 of Rosebud’s dresses, and fixed a few loose buttons. Then I went……….grocery shopping. DUH DUH DUNnnnnnnnn. We needed to hit up the whole shebang-Sam’s Club, Kroger, even Wal-Mart (where Rosebud found a pack of clearance big girl panties for $4.50 and wouldn’t put them down because apparently every 2 year old needs panties with birds on them, and “Mommy, I not has any bird panties at home.”) Home. Dinner. Got Rosebud ready for bed. Worked on policy reports for work. Went. to. bed.

Tuesday: I went to work. Got home and saw that Grandma’s new chair had been delivered, so I put the chair together. Made some homemade salsa, so the cilantro wouldn’t wilt like Rick Pitino’s career, then started dinner. Doc and Rosebud got home, we loaded up the glider and ottoman into the car and headed to Richmond to see Grandma. Got her laundry to wash and a list of things she needed. On the way home she calls to tell me that this chair just “doesn’t suit” and I’ll have to come back and pick it up. Tonight. I said no, because I’m trying to stay out of jail and I didn’t want to be the focus of an episode of Snapped. Got home. Ate the dinner I’d cooked at 4:30 (reheated chicken is yum) gave Rosebud a bath, helped her fill out her bracket for our family tournament, and put the babe to bed. Time change is a real friend to mom’s everywhere, and so Rosebud was up every 10 minutes for the next hour and a half. “I need to pee-pee.” “I need to go poo.” “I need some water. I sirstee.” Finally, bed. Also, Marco Rubio dropped out of the primary race so I spent a good hour mourning the loss of the Republican Party to Donald Trump. RIP.

Wednesday: I went to get a hair cut. Which every busy woman knows is basically a vacation. I spent 2 1/2 hours getting pampered, and walked out feeling like a new woman. Sigh. I wish everyday was haircut day. But then reality put its foot back up my butt and I started working a thesis assignment, and doing work for my real, out of the house job. The day hit a  high note with a trip to McAlister’s for dinner with a best friend. Then we went to Best Buy, picked up Grandma’s t.v. and headed home. Rosebud went down fairly easily, and I helped Doc edit a personal statement for a rotation application and took his picture so he’d have one to attach. (Note to self: Add Professional Photographer with focus on portraiture and headshots to resume.)

Thursday: Doc insisted that I sleep in today and relax. It’s so cute when he’s oblivious. I slept in until 8:00. When my phone started ringing off the hook. It’s currently 12:15 and I’ve had 5…wait. now 6. calls from Grandma/the nursing home. In between answering the phone, I cleaned out and organized the storage building, started my billion loads of laundry for Grandma and us, and got our spring/summer clothes out of storage and put our winter things away. Took a break to blog and eat a turkey sam. I will follow that up with an exciting afternoon of preparing our tax documents because we will be going to get our taxes filed this evening at 6. After that we’ll drive to Richmond, and I’ll hang up/put up Grandma’s laundry, pick up that chair and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine return it to Target, and get home just in time to put Rosebud to bed and watch Doc chew off his fingernails during the Cats’ first game.

Friday: Tomorrow I’ll be spending what I’m sure will be a lovely day at the office of community based services where I will spend hours fills out Grandma’s long-term stay Medicaid application. Whenever that is complete, I’ll finish my spring cleaning.

Saturday: We’ll be taking Rosebud to an Easter egg hunt and to meet the great bunny himself at Grandma’s nursing home, so that Grandma will be able to argue with all of the other old women there about whose grandkid/great-grand-kid is the cutest and the smartest.

Sunday: Church. And then I will be spending my day of rest on the couch, watching House of Cards. (If this actually happens, it will be a miracle.)

So here’s to all you women out there experiencing the joys of spring “break”. Shoot. I’ve worked harder this week than the rest of the year combined. Head up–summer is just around the corner. Oh wait. No summer break? I’ll graduate and have a real job instead?

Well. Dang.
C’est la vie, my friends. C’est la vie.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

 

 

Are You There God, It’s Me Hunter

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with life that I could scream. The vein popping out in the middle of my forehead, really red-faced and sweaty type of scream.
Not that it would do any good. Like, at all.
It’s not exactly a healthy way of dealing with emotions, and it would scare the bejeebies out of Doc and Rosebud.

Lately, I’ve been tried. And I fear that I’ve been found wanting.
I keep waiting to find my footing, only to slip again as soon as I’ve found it.

The setting up of our first home and all the mishaps and curves that go with that, all of the everyday up and downs of raising a kid and all of the fear and uncertainty that accompanies it, AND trying to keep up with Grey’s Anatomy. That seems like enough, but then throw in medical school and crazy hours, me going back to grad school, trying to complete my internship placement to graduate, the job search, a locked up jaw, and an 88-year-old woman completely dependent on me and well, let me just tell you, there are days I want to hide under the covers and never emerge.

Because I’m 25 years old and I never thought I’d be responsible for so many things so soon. Life is in fast-forward at 8x speed, and I’m almost positive that I hit pause the spring semester of my senior year in college.

If this blog reads like one really long list of complaints to you, well, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.
A self-pitying, stomp my foot, temper tantrum of words.
This is me, standing outside, screaming to the Heavens: “CAN THIS GET ANY WORSE?!?” And then rain, a tornado, and a house fall on my head.

This is my “why me?” post.
Are you there, God, it’s me, Hunter, and I could really use a break. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, also could you do something about those student loans? Med school, though.

ANYWHO.

On top of it all, I have this tendency to internalize everything. Why is it my business to have constant anxiety about the public deficit? Or about the drought in sub-saharan Africa? Or how does the Internet really even work?
The pressure keeps building and it feels like it’s coming from everywhere at once. I have nursing homes calling me, Medicare representatives coming out my ears, life insurance policies to switch around, a toddler that I have to feed, a husband that would wear plaid with stripes if I didn’t keep an eye on him, and my dog constantly has a really weird smell wafting off of him.

I feel like I’ll collapse under the weight. Maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I was and so I second-guess myself. Then I look around and everybody’s hurting and I don’t know why and there’s nothing I can do, and…..See. See what happens when I pick up steam.

Do you do that? Do you ever feel so lost in all the mayhem that you just want a remote control to push STOP so you can finally catch your breath?
Don’t. Don’t do that, Hunter.
Don’t ever press STOP. Don’t ever wish your struggles away.
The truth is, no. We can’t control our circumstances or the things life throws our way. We never will be able to, and the sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be.
But it is always, ALWAYS our choice on how we cope, on how we rise.

When you find yourself wondering where all the good in the world has gone, remember this: Goodness still exists even though life is hard and cruel, and even though people suffer.
Cling to this truth: God’s goodness was never meant to take away the world’s suffering, but to provide a refuge in the midst of it.
The ONLY thing that God’s goodness erases, then, is hopelessness.
Because if God is good, then there will always be Hope: even in the presence of so much struggle and injustice that we want to scream.

My tiny, human brain looks around and says “Ew. This isn’t fair. I don’t like this anymore, God. No thanks.”
We see the hurting and say God must not exist. Not in a world this bad. Or even if He does exist, He must not care. Or maybe He’s just cruel.
We can’t perceive the ways in which the suffering we’re railing against contributes to the eternal benefit of the only real Kingdom that matters.
It matters. The struggle matters.

Hope.
Hope is the basis of our faith. Not a happy life. Not everything going right. Not the absence of struggle.

And remember. A diamond is a hunk of coal that did well under pressure.
So shine on, dear people. Shine on.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

If You Don’t Have Anything Mean to Say to Me–Don’t Say Anything At All

I have never mastered the art of graciously accepting compliments. Whenever someone tells me something positive about my appearance/work/anything, my brain trips over itself and I turn into a lipsticked version of a caveman and garble: “Asdfghj.  Me no cute. No. Blind. You. Akjflkgjlkd. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS.”

Why is that we immediately brush off any praise or flattery that we receive? Instead of a gracious ‘thank-you’, or the acknowledgement that yeah, you spent $80 bucks and 2 hours to look this good, we deflect it with a nonchalant “oh this old thing”, or we reverse the compliment to the other person. “ME?! Oh my gosh no. You. You are perfect. I am but a humble peasant in your presence.”

What is so wrong with saying “thanks for noticing that my hair is on fleek today.” (Side note: had to Google the correct usage of ‘fleek’….so. old.)

Example: When someone tells me how perfect/cute/precious/awesome Rose is I usually answer with some version of “Ohhh. She’s a mess.” or something equally blasé when what I really want to do is grab them by their shoulders and yell: “OMGIKNOWRIGHT!?! I can’t believe I made her and she’s awesome and perfect and the coolest/best/smartest kid on the FACE OF THE ENTIRE PLANET.” (catches breath) So there’s that.

Maybe that reaction is a bit over the top–and not really at all gracious, but neither is it gracious to take one’s compliment and unceremoniously brush it aside.

I find that I do it most with Doc.

“Wow. You look pretty.”
“I like your hair like that.”
“You’re awesome and perfect and always right and know everything.”
(Tossed that last one for posterity.)

I all but scoff at him.
And how wrong is that?
Answer: really, really wrong.

If you find yourself unable to accept a compliment, perhaps it’s for a deeper reason than just general awkwardness. Maybe it’s because you (I) find it impossible to believe these awesome, really wonderful things about yourself (myself). Maybe we should all take a step back and try to see ourselves how others see us.

Like when Rosebud walks in the room to see me getting dressed in yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and fuzzy socks and says “Aw-ww-ww. You look soo cutee, Mommy.” I don’t see anything special in the old, college sweatshirt and the fading pants with stretched fabric, and honestly she doesn’t either. She sees something special in the mommy wearing them.

And when Doc tells me I “look beautiful with my hair like that”–the right answer is not: “I always fix my hair like this.” Again. He couldn’t care less about my hair. It’s me. He sees me.

Don’t be afraid to accept just how incredible other people know you to be. Even if at that moment, you feel like you wouldn’t know beautiful and powerful if it bit you in the butt. Don’t brush aside their words, cherish them.

You are only as powerful as you believe yourself to be, so become your compliments.
It might be awkward at first but just. say. thanks.

And well…”if you can’t say anything nice about anybody, come sit by me” -Steel Magnolias

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

Expect the Unexpected: Parenting a Toddler

Parenting a toddler is a funny place to be. Not funny like ha-ha, but funny like sometimes you find yourself weeping in dark places and saying things like “QUIT HIDING THINGS DOWN YOUR PANTIES.”

Parenting a toddler isn’t an easy job for anyone, but for a Type-A, planner, it’s particularly daunting. Because they never do what you want or expect them to. Even when you beg. Especially if you beg. No matter how much time/thought/effort you put into planning days/events/outfits they will step in and step up and shoot those plans to H. E. double hockey sticks.

A few examples:

Your plan: beginning your week by hitting the ground running. There’s a lot of work and studying that needs to be done and not a minute to lose.
Toddler’s plan: waking up and finger painting on the wall using the poop in their pull up.

Your plan: dress your toddler like an angel for church, and they’ll smile sweetly, fold their hands to pray, and sit silently listening to the sermon.
Toddler’s plan: play in the pile of dirt beside the car and ruin their dress, drag their feet to scuff their shoes, give every sweet old lady who calls her precious the stank eye, yell “I NEED TO GO POOP” at the top of their lungs during silent confession, and every 35 seconds say: “Look, my Barbie is naked,” while being shushed.

Your plan: an uneventful drive to drop Rosebud off at school and then head to work.
Toddler’s plan: nonchalantly drop her first curse word, momentarily stopping your heart and causing you to jerk the wheel and swerve the car off the side of the road.

Your plan: arrive everywhere 15-30 minutes early.
Toddler’s plan: arrive everywhere unfashionably late so that everyone in the room turns and looks when mom and dad stumble in with everything but the kitchen sink packed in a baby bag.

On Saturday, Doc got a lesson in toddler plan destruction. As I mentioned in a previous post, our anniversary was this past week. To celebrate, Rosebud is going to spend this coming weekend with her grandparents and Doc and I are going to dress up in something besides scrubs and jeans and go to dinner.

Unbeknownst to me, Doc and Rosebud snuck away to the mall and purchased a beautiful Pandora bracelet and charms. He planned to surprise me with the bracelet at dinner.
In doing so, he made one vital mistake: letting Rosebud in on the plan.

Saturday afternoon, one week before the big reveal, Rosebud walked into the living room and said: “Daddy. Where’s mommy’s surprise?”
Doc panicked, and stammering and stuttering, attempted to throw Rosebud off the trail.
“You mean the candy bar we were going to get Mommy? We ended up not getting one. REMEMBER, ROSEBUD??”

“No, Daddy. We got it at the mall. We got Mommy bracelet at the mall. I think it still in the car, Mommy. Want me to get it for you?”

I’ve never seen Doc’s face turn so red so fast, and he and I both burst out laughing.
And even though she had no idea what was going on, Rosebud laughed, too.

He brought the bracelet in and I unwrapped it in a dirty kitchen with a sink full of dishes instead of in a romantic restaurant, and wearing sweats instead of a dress and heels.

Doc apologized. “I’d planned on a little more pomp and circumstance, but I hope you love it just the same.”
Planned.
But the plans fell through. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

In ten years, Rosebud is going to be entering her teenage years, and she probably won’t even want to go to the mall with her kooky dad, let alone to pick out a bracelet for the mom that may or may not be ruining her life. And when I look down at my wrist, I’m going to remember the eagerness and excitement shining in her eyes when she ripped out the tissue paper to show me what Daddy got for me. And the pride that was in her smile when I told her how much I loved it. And that memory will sustain me on the lonely days when she’s gone off to college and I’m dreaming of the days when I’d wake up in the middle of the night to her jumping in bed with us, covered in marker, and screaming “LOOK AT MY TATTOOS.”

I love plans and lists and step-by-step instructions. I don’t really get much of that during this season of life.
And the funny thing is, I’m finding out how beautiful the unexpected can be. And that sometimes the best laid plans really suck compared to what God and your 2-year-old have planned for you.
So when things don’t go the way you expected, chin up–closed doors and opened windows and all that jazz.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

The Day I Stomped Out My Daughter’s Fire

The past few weeks Doc has been on surgery rotation. That means early mornings, long days and late nights. It’s left a lot of time for Rosebud and I to be alone. Which is a little a lot exhausting and a lot of awesome. That includes Sunday mornings.

If you’re a church-attending mom, you know that Sunday mornings are the Super Bowl of motherhood. If you can get yourself, your husband, and your child(ren) out the door wearing clothing that covers all the important parts, hair free of breakfast crumbs, nose free of boogers, and walk into the sanctuary by the time the choir finishes singing their first song then yes, you deserve a ring, a trophy, two Reese’s cups, and a glass of wine. (Panty hose runs and wrinkles are acceptable under these conditions.)

With Doc gone, I’ve been taking on the sole responsibility for getting Rosebud and I to the Lord’s house with as few tears and as little swearing as possible. This past Sunday I was attempting to wrestle her into a pair of light pink stockings, and she was attempting to escape the torture. The conversation escalated.

“Honey, I need you to stand still for mommy.”
*Continued wrestling

“Rose, sweetie, let me get you dressed so we aren’t late for church.”
*She starts throwing elbows

“1….2…”
*Grins maniacally

(Angry voice) “ROSE. STAND STILL RIGHT NOW.”
She jumped, all the fight drained out of her body, tears the size of the hope diamond ran down her cheeks, and with a shaking voice she cut straight to my heart. “Mommy. That scare me to death. Mommy. You scare me to death. That too loud.”

If you could only know the guilt that swept over my at that very moment. I looked up, half-expecting “World’s Worst Mother” to appear tattooed across my forehead. I hugged her close to me and rocked us both. “I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry I did that. I love you so much. I shouldn’t have done that. I love you.”

She was deflated.
With five little words, I had stomped out my Rosebud’s fire. One of the things I love most about her.

Sure, she got over it. She’d forgotten about it before we even got to the car, singing ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ all the way to the church house.

But it stayed with me.

And I started to wonder at all the other ways I’d stomped out her fire.
When I brushed away the chubby hands attempting to tie her own shoes because we were in a hurry, maybe.
Or when I rushed through our bedtime routine trying to get to my chores so I could finally relax.
When I pulled her along when she tried to stop along the sidewalk to examine a leaf blowing in the wind because I had 15 minutes until I had to be at the office.

Doc and I constantly struggle with finding the balance between ensuring Rosebud is well-disciplined (see: not a spoiled, little brat) and trying not to break the wild spirit that we love about her. And it’s not easy (see: the hardest thing I’ve ever done). How do I mold her into a positive, contributing member of society while keeping her true (and crazy) personality in tact? How do I teach her to stand up for herself, but remind her that we’re in charge?

It’s particularly interesting for me because I see so many of my own character traits mirroring their reflection in her. How am I supposed to discipline Rosebud for losing her temper and getting frustrated when she can’t immediately grasp a new technique or task when I DO THE EXACT SAME THING. Or when she looks at us in the middle of the prayer at church and says: “I can’t be quiet, I need TO TALK.”–when well, that’s my fault, too. And I especially can’t get after the kid for sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to read books. It’s like God said “Oh hey, Hunter, did you need further insight into all the weirdness that is you? Here ya go. Here’s you in toddler form. Good luck.”

My whole pregnancy I spent praying that my child would be as patient, laid back, and easy going as Doc. Instead, in a cruel twist of fate, she’s as wild, high maintenance, short-tempered, and as fiery and passionate (about EVERYTHING) as I am. But goodness, do we love her for it.

One thing is for sure, I will never have to worry about Rosebud standing up for her beliefs or voicing her opinions and speaking her mind. God help us all and look out world.

Here’s to all you people with a strong willed child–may you have the wisdom and the strength to temper their spirit without breaking it. And good luck on Sunday mornings. Yeesh.

Oh, and here’s to all you people with a strong will…may all your children take after their fathers.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

IMG_6512

I mean, come on….this is the sass I live with.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Marriage, I Learned from a Snow Shovel, a Sidewalk, and a Blister on my Pinky

This past weekend Kentucky got slammed by “Winter Storm Jonas”. And I mean if you really think about it, what a terrible name for a snowstorm. Bertha. I prefer Bertha. We got slammed by Winter Storm Bertha.

After being trapped, snowed in for three days, stuffing our faces with baked goods and hot chocolate, and alternating between Frozen and Tangled on repeat, Doc decided it was time to dig us out.

He, Rosebud, and I bundled up in 75 layers a piece and headed into the tundra. She and I proceeded to make snow angels, and frolic as well as a 2-year-old in a padded suit can frolic while Doc cleaned off the cars and shoveled the driveway and the walkway clear. I watched him sweat and work and my heart got that mushy feeling it gets when he goes out of his way to take care of us. And also, kind of hot and bothered, because he’s a good looking guy and his butt still looks pretty cute underneath three pairs of pants. No judgement, we’re married, it’s legal. ANYWAY.

I’m watching him work and I notice that it’s 3:30 and the UK game comes on at 4:00. Now Doc doesn’t ask for a lot (well, anything), but the man loves his UK basketball. So before he got started on the sidewalk, I told him “Go on, warm up, drink some hot chocolate, turn on the game, and for once, just relax.” He argued, because that’s what he does, but finally gave in. And even though I have never shoveled a sidewalk in my entire life, I did my best to clear the snow away.

My arms hurt worse than that one time that I thought it would be a good idea to skip the “Beginner’s” section on Insanity, because hey, I’m no beginner–but yeah, I’m totally a beginner. And when I got done, I had a blister the size of Texas on my right pinky finger that may turn to gangrene and make my hand fall off, but I did it.

I did it for two reasons:

1.) Doc and I are one. When he shovels, I shovel. And I don’t want to take his willingness to work for us for granted. Because when the going gets tough, I want him to look over and see me working alongside him in the trenches, not depending on him to fix the things that are broken. TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK<<—Whitaker Family Motto as of just now.

2. And also, Rosebud has been a little too observant lately. When something breaks, she sets it aside for “Daddy can fix it when he get home,” and when I told her I was going to help dad shovel, her reply was “No, Mommy. Not big girls do that, just big boys do that.” Wait wut. Hold on a minute, honey.

Growing up with the Fran was an experience. If something needed done, she did it. If something needed fixed, she fixed it, and if something needed shoveling she shoveled it. And so I grew up thinking KNOWING that I could do anything, or in this case, shovel anything. I want Rosebud to grow up with that same hardheaded assurance, and I absolutely refuse to raise a damsel in distress. I don’t want her to wait for someone else to fix her problems or shovel her snow. I want Rosebud ‘to plant her own garden and decorate her own soul, instead of waiting for someone else to bring her flowers.’ I don’t want her to be afraid to get her hands dirty. And most importantly, I don’t want Rosebud growing up with some twisted notion that marriage exists to coddle or serve one person.

Doc and I strive to live out our marriage the way it was intended, and to love one another the way Christ loved the Church. And we fail. Every. Single. Day. Oh boy do we fail. Like the one day we stood in the kitchen screaming at each other because “I always need to be right” and “He doesn’t appreciate anything I do.” I’m almost positive that Christ never called the Church selfish and bullheaded–my bad. But the most important lesson that marriage has taught me is this: do the dirty work. Do it because it prevents the person you love most in the world from having to do it. Do it because they do it for you. Because my least favorite chore in the world is folding clothes, and sometimes, it “magically” gets done for me. The people we love are blessings, but if we rely on them solely, we lose out on using our own talents and gifts and we miss opportunities to serve–the biggest blessing of all. And sure, we might come away with a few scars or blisters, but the hard work is worth it.

So if the sidewalk needs shoveled, well…shovel it. Even if your pinky falls off, your snot freezes on your face, and your arms go numb.  Bonus points for smiling through the sweat/blisters/burn.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.