Friday, February 12, 2010
A Little Love Story
(I know that today I am supposed to be continuing the story of our family moving to Brazil, but in honor of the 22nd anniversary of my engagement, and Valentine's Day coming up, I decided to tell another story involving me and my sweetheart. I'll continue with the other story next week.)
If you have been reading "Our Story" each Friday, you know that my husband, Kevin, went back to school in 1995 to become a physical therapist. At that time we had two daughters, ages 4 and 2, and I was teaching school in Bartlett, Tennessee. Up until Kevin started school in January of 95, he had worked several different jobs that would allow him to go to school (taking pre-requisites for PT school) and help out with the girls. But when he started PT school, that all changed. PT school was a full-time thing. There was no time for working or babysitting kids. He went to class all day and studied at night and on the weekends. That meant that I was basically a single mom.
I would teach school, then leave as soon afterward as possible to go pick up the girls at their pre-school and take care of them at home. I did all the grocery shopping, cooking and pretty much all the cleaning by myself, as well as paying the bills and trying to stretch my paycheck to cover the necessities. Writing all of that now seems like a lot and I should have been stressed out, but I don't remember being stressed out that much. I guess as a 31 year old I had a lot more energy than I do now!
Anyway, on top of all that, we found out in January of 96 that "surprise!" I was pregnant. So, even though I had really easy pregnancies, that year had the pregnancy and birth of Garrett added in the mix. I worked for Shelby County Schools, and their policy for maternity leave was: use your sick days, then you are on your own. We were given 2 weeks of paid sick days at the beginning of each year and if we took anymore than that, we worked without pay. You could roll over your sick days from one year to the next. Well, with two little girls, a pregnancy, and a husband who was a full-time student, I didn't have too many sick days left when Garrett was born in October. So that meant no income - at all. We moved into Kevin's parents' house in November to be able to make it until after graduation when Kevin would be working.
(You are probably wondering where the love story is in all of this?? Sorry, but had to set the stage.)
Kevin graduated in December, and everyone was so excited. People were congratulating him, giving him pats on the back, presents, money, praises galore. I don't know if it was my post-childbirth hormones or just my selfishness, but I felt kind of left out. Every time someone congratulated him and said how proud they were of him, I thought, "What about me? He couldn't have done any of that without me. I took care of everything alone this whole time......etc." Very gracious, I know. I never let anyone know how I was feeling, because I knew it was wrong, but I felt it nonetheless. Kind of pouty on the inside, but covering it up on the outside. It seemed like no one recognized my part in his accomplishment.
Christmas was near. I'm sure that we charged any Christmas gifts that we got for the kids or other family members, because we, of course, had no income. I didn't want to let the holidays go by without giving Kevin something for Christmas. But I didn't want to spend a lot of money that we didn't have. I ran across a funny book that I thought he might like. It was called "Trailer Trash from Tennessee". It had little funny stories about someone's childhood in Tennessee. Looking back now, I can't believe that I chose this book for him, but I did.
Kevin and I have this tradition that we exchange our gifts with each other on Christmas Eve, just the two of us, after the kids are in bed. So that night I gave him my measly gift. I didn't think he had gotten anything for me - how could he?
After he opened the book and thanked me for it. He gave me a little box. In the box was my engagement ring and wedding ring which I had accidentally left at a friend's house when we were doing crafts. Along with them was a brand new ring guard with baguette diamonds that fit perfectly on the sides of my engagement ring. It was something that I had always secretly wanted, but of course, never felt we had the money to buy. I was totally, completely shocked. How in the world had he paid for that??
He then told me that he knew that there was no way he could have made it through PT school without me. And that he appreciated so much all the single parenting and sacrificing that I had done while he was in school. When I recovered from my shock enough to talk, I asked him how in the world he had paid for it. Turns out he had taken all of the money that he had received for graduation gifts, and used all of it to buy me this ring. It continues to be the best gift that I have ever received.
And it dawned on me how much this guy loved me, how much he valued me as his wife. It was a wonderful feeling, and I feel it all the time now. He continually sacrifices to make me happy and make me feel special and loved. Whoever marries my daughters will have a lot to live up to in the "spoil your wife" department. And whoever marries my sons will be blessed to have a husband who has had my husband as an example.
If you ever read the blog The Pioneer Woman, you will soon recognize that she adores her husband. She talks about him all the time. I'm not like her in her ability to be so open with her adoration, but I hope that, Kevin, when you read this, you will know how much I love you and I am so, so glad that you chose me and I chose you. I would do it all over again in a second. I look forward to whatever the future brings for us, because I know that we will be together. I love you.