Sunday, May 14, 2017

To Charlotte's Mother...

After Adrienne and I had been dating for a while, and gotten to the point where marriage, kids, and future plans became approachable topics of conversation, we pretty much universally agreed: We both wanted three kids.  Two boys and a girl, or three girls, or one boy and two girls...It didn't really matter.  We just both knew we ultimately wanted to have a big family.

As time went on, and we naturally came back to the conversation, things slowly changed.  Three kids might be too many.  In fact...One kid might be too many.  We liked being able to go out any time we wanted.  We liked being able to book a hotel on Thursday, and leave on Friday for a weekend getaway.  We enjoyed the freedom, and weren't sure we wanted to restrain ourselves by the immense responsibility a child brings.  We weren't necessarily against having kids, but we certainly didn't have to be parents.

I say that because our conclusions tended to change from time to time.  We could be out for dinner, sitting next to a screaming infant, throwing food and shoving drink glasses and silverware off in the floor, while the father wrestled with another kid who wouldn't stop staring over the side of the booth and making funny faces at Adrienne, and the mother would be curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the booth mouthing "help me" to anyone who happened to be paying attention.  In the car on the way home, one of us would invariably say something like, "You know...I just don't think I want any kids," and the other would emphatically agree.

Then we might see pictures of someone's baby shower on Facebook, and our opinions would soften a bit.  "You know...I wouldn't mind having a kid, someday.  But definitely not anytime soon, and definitely only one."  The other would reply with, "I was just about to say the same thing...But, yeah, just one."

We'd see a birth announcement where someone surprisingly gave birth to triplets, and we'd look at each other and say, "Nope...A whole lot of nope."  Then we'd see family pictures of the triplets with Mom and Dad and say, "Well...I don't guess it would be all that bad."

And so it went for a few years.  No matter what "decision" we made at any given time, it would change within a few weeks.  I think, in the backs of our minds, we always knew what direction we'd ultimately go.

And I am so grateful we did.

Adrienne was born to be a mother.  When she undertakes any challenge, she pretty much universally excels.  Things just come easy for her.  But there is nothing she does more brilliantly than being a mom.  Nothing else really comes close.

I'd like to spend the rest of this entry telling you all about the amazing things she does for Charlotte, and I could speak in generalities about how she keeps our family together with her thoughtfulness and care.  I could talk about how, no matter the level of exhaustion she feels after a long day, she plays with Charlotte from the moment she gets home to the moment she goes to bed.  I could talk about how she always makes sure Charlotte eats supper, gets her bath, and reads her books for a few minutes before taking even five seconds for herself.  I could tell you how she takes time to set out clothes for the next day, do laundry, prepare meals for Charlotte, and cleans her dishes twice a day.  I could tell you how she does all that while also cleaning the mess I made in the kitchen, picking up my clothes that I mindlessly leave in virtually every room in the house, and generally taking care of all the things I don't want to do.  And I'd be telling the truth.

But, when I think about Adrienne and the amazing mother she is, none of those things really comes to mind.

What makes Adrienne such a wonderful mother are the things that happen when no one else is around.  The "conversations" they have while she's changing Charlotte's clothes in the bedroom before we leave the house.  The constant string of giggles and belly-laughs that emanate from the bathroom as they make faces in the mirror after bath-time.  The unmistakable tune of "You Are My Sunshine" being hummed from a darkened living room, only broken by the rhythmic pop of the old recliner as it rocks.  The crash of dozens of plastic pieces of food being dumped in the kitchen floor, followed by, "Oh boy, Charlotte, what are you going to make for Momma?"

One of my favorite things in the entire world is just being with Adrienne and Charlotte.  Lying in the living room floor, stacking blocks, flipping through books, playing the same song on her rocking horse over and over and over and over and over again.  Doing little else than spending time as a family.

But, the truth is, some of my favorite experiences don't even involve me.  They're just a collection of little moments where I get to soak up memories in my own way.  I can sit in a back bedroom alone, or watch through the cracks in the blinds.  I can linger in the hallway just a few seconds longer than I need to, so that I don't ruin that one perfect second for Adrienne and Charlotte.  I just love listening to Adrienne be a mother, when she doesn't know I'm there.  Sometimes, the best seat in the house is one without a view.

There's no such thing as the perfect parent.  But, Adrienne comes as close as humanly possible.  You don't have to see that to know it.  Happy Mother's Day, Adrienne.  Charlotte and I love you so much, we can't stand our lives!


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