I choose you..... and all the comfort food.
It feels good to be back.
I got a day out to enjoy a swanky coffee shop complete with hot tea, crusty outlet covers, chips with names like, "Funky Fusion," and a piece of quiche that weighed almost as much as my left leg.
Then, in the thick of it, my computer hiccuped and the whole shebang went the way of the interspace.
So here we go again!
In my sarcasm I want to chock this up to 2020 just like every hangnail these days, but I will refrain.
Because blaming frustrations on masks alone is enough.
I have, as many of us have, gone from worrying about the cute matching one to a dirty hospital grade one most likely put on backwards just to run into the store for Pete's sake and grab milk and bread.
I have sucked-in so many masks while talking that I now have a shady idea what I would look like as a Muppet.
This season of new normal has seen this family from a garage kitchen to a kitchen reno to taking yet another family member to college, with a side of one emergency appendectomy.
We packed up the cute daughter to join the cute son and she was all over here finding post-its and nylons and I was just thinking about how incredibly cute she is.
She is all my husband which greatly increases her cute-factor, but seriously this girl is so stinking cute.
And less stinking and more cute for any prospective suitors who catch this read.
You're welcome Abi.
Yes, we are going by "Abi," now.
And we were more prepared for the lack of real food at the "Parent's reception," which allowed us more Chicago pizza at lunch.
I sweat-off three solid pounds trying to unpack this girl who officially sits as one of four sardines in a dorm room.
After several glasses of water and twenty deep breaths I was ready to go and prepare for the reception and actually look like something other than sweaty and pizza-ish while mingling with all the other normal parents.
With a whopping fifteen minutes to change into my "cool Mom" clothes, a blob of makeup fell right on my lap, calling attention to all the pizza I had consumed a few hours earlier. It was one of those "OF COURSE" moments. I grabbed a cardigan and decided to button the middle.
And pretended that it made me look slimmer anyhow.
Son #1 met me at the door and saw all over my face that the introvert in me was not ready for Sam's club cheesecake bites and one trillion "SO HOW WILL YOU MAKE IT WITHOUT YOUR DAUGHTER's."
He grabbed me a cup of water and ushered me through the crowd in a way that would make any KGB agent smile.
I cannot confirm or deny passing on the fact that, "these never have food for Hangry parents," and that "If you want to you can just tell everyone you are one step away from depression," to two new college parents while my son found me some vacant chairs.
Sometimes it's our duty to help others, you know?
In a blur I motioned for my husband to sit by our girl while my son put his arm around me, sheltering me from ruining anyone else who might know of him.
Oh how he knows me, this twin of mine. His watch care over me was noble. This and he also knew I had four dozen of his favorite cookies waiting for him.
I just sat there and watched in some time warp as she laughed with her dad and snuggled into his arm during the opening skit and wondered if I would even make it though one more courtship discussion this year.
And just like that she found her place, her school fellowship colors and at this posting just landed her first "A" on a final exam.
Did I mention she is a lot like her Father?
We were supposed to stay the night in Chicago, but decided to hit Maggiano's on the way home instead and just let everything in our lives and marriage just settle over artichoke dip.
I highly recommend this for each and every marriage.
The bread and oil and balsamic came to our table and we literally looked at each other with that, "Yep. It's all gonna be okay," glance.
You know the one.
The same one you give each other over breakfast when your youngest sincerely asks you if we live in South America, and you remember in that moment that the coffee is done.
We swirled pasta on our forks, took bites of each other's meals like it was our first date and jumped for our phones every time it "dinged" with a new pic of this girl getting her class schedule, meeting new freshmen friends and figuring out what she did indeed leave at home by mistake.
In that moment there isn't any other place in the world we would rather be than at an empty restaurant in the middle of the day with piping hot cappuccinos and offering the last piece of tiramisu to each other until someone finally eats it.
And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God ordains moments like this.
Moments where you brush cheese off of your spouse's cheek and get a good glimpse of your wedding band as you snag more dip, instantaneously wondering how on earth 21 years could go that fast and things you said to each other on one single day still be holding your hearts together with promises kept.
It just cannot be diagrammed in perfect lines and divisions like school sentences you do everyday with your daughter still at home.
It isn't neat, but it's wonderful.
And huge moments can only be experienced and understood by the both of you as you work and pray and apologize and watch kids leave and keep enjoying coffee together.
And huge moments are made up of so many small ones.
Ones where your husband takes a gummy wedding ring, places it on your finger and repeats your vows once more with the kids looking on.
Ones where you make the eggs again because they are too salty or sit with your wife eating her leftover quiche while telling her you are so sorry that the whole post was erased.
That moment enjoying what to us was one of the best meals we have ever had together cannot be replicated. It can only be savored.
God is just as much in the Walmart runs to get your daughter the hand's down cheapest plastic chest of drawers for her too many sweaters so she feels settled, as He is in family devotions.
He knows how good the fettuccine will be and how the coffee will just warm everything up again after you are emotionally spent with a capital S.
He knows that even now I cannot find the words to tell you just how sweet marriage can be after hard and after stress and after the "I am sorry I was short with you when I spilled make-up on myself."
And just a few days later daughter #2 decided her appendix was just taking up too much space and son #2 decided he needed to be able to legally drive while she was still in the hospital.
And tonight we will go out to enjoy a delicious meal just the two of us and laugh about it all and thank God for the ability to walk together through it all.
And there you have it.
My kitchen is looking pretty spiffy these days, but this Mama's heart still needs drywall dust cleaned up.
Lean in because I am going to share a little secret with you.
The kids leave.
Thankfully we have a year or two before we do the whole "non food parent's thing," again, but they do all leave.
Go way back to our first year of marriage with me when I was mentioning to someone that we light our unity candle every month on our anniversary and have a fun little meal.
She laughed at me until I was terribly embarrassed.
I still have the whole sequence in my mind like a video tape.
She was missing out.
Celebrate all the things if you want to.
Make the whole month of February a celebration and force your kids to decorate every Friday if you choose.
Because I will not laugh.
I know, some years later that these kids leave.
And it will be just the two of you once more. Stress and ministry and hurts and hard will pull on you from every single direction. It will turn you into business partners for a while and then it will make you wonder if you will make it.
And you will then choose to go for coffee to fight against the current to get back on track or you will become two separate individuals who have changed immeasurably and don't have the same enjoyment of each other like they used to.
God gave you these hoodlums, but you CHOOSE your spouse.
And they chose you.
CHOOSE to do things that other people may laugh at.
CHOOSE really great coffee.
You'll be glad you did! Trust me...