As I lay here watching my husband play with our daughters I think about how much marriage and motherhood have changed me. We all grow up with ideas of what kind of wives and mothers we want to be. We develop these ideas from the women in our lives, our mothers who remind us to always smile and be gentle, our grandmothers who remind us the importance of caring for your home, Aunts who show us how to have fun and many others. But I am thinking how different I am now from what I always pictured.
I was raised in a busy, loud, not perfect but loving home. My mother divorced my father when I was young, too young to remember, my father was not a part of my life as a child or teenager (we reunited when I was 20 and have a great friendship now). My mom remarried when I was very young to a man who taught me so much about love and acceptance, as this man adopted me and to this day you would never guess I am not of his blood. My daddy (who adopted me) was in the Navy until I was around 5ish so my mother was head of household since he was gone so much, I am blessed to have watched such a strong woman who taught me how to care for my home, care for brother and love my daddy. When my daddy got out of the Navy I was then front center to how a marriage can really go through so much and yet only get stronger. No matter how many times our family dynamic changed my parents showed us and each other love. My parents greatest life lessons that I hold onto and keep: 1)never go to bed made 2)always say I love you when you leave no matter the circumstances 2)always forgive. They sound so simple but in reality I have learned they can be hard.
My husband was raised in a large family that holds very close to family ties, something I cherish and consider an amazing blessing, as my family was always moving and far from one another. His parents have been married for over 30 years and work so well together. My husband without knowing most the time, brings so much of their marriage to life in ours, his parents taught him so much about sacrifice and love.
The hard thing is when you take two completely different ideas of marriage and you join it as one, as we did on May 27 2011. There is NO handbook, and it is true that what you have before you say “I do” changes. But whether those changes are good and easy or hard and trying is up to you. I will be the first one to admit my husband has his hands full; I am a headstrong, independent, loud mouth, stubborn woman. (I disclosed this all before our vows) He accepted that I had a difficult failed first marriage, and he accepted and gave all his love to my daughter who was two at the time we met. See thanks to his parents and how they raised him he opened his arms and heart to her, every date from the beginning has been family focused he was ok that there was very limited “us” time and for that I fell hard for him. And as he accepted my …ummm… difficultness, I accepted the fact that he was a workaholic, way too tidy (oh yea don’t roll your eyes) man. But after we wed, the hard stuff started, how do we make our marriage ours? How do we make what we loved about our parents’ marriage work for us? You know the person you married isn’t like your mom/dad but what does that look like in a marriage?
Our first two years of marriage my husband worked nights, this was very hard on us as it was new. I had moved two hours away from family and friends and then my husband was no longer “there”. He changed as a person from lack of sleep, he would try to stay awake for us and it would make things harder. In this time we decided we wanted to grow our family and then was hit with infertility. So many things made creating our marriage dynamic harder. At some point in all this madness we found a silver lining, our church, which eventually became a lifeline for us, our family away from family. Our loneliness was now bearable, we had something to look forward to; see we both shared a love for keeping church apart of our lives we just hadn’t found one that fit. After sometime we realized that every marriage is different and what makes each one unique are the situations that build or break it. We weren’t going to have exact marriages like our parents or others we saw, we were going to have OUR marriage and what it was made of was up to us!
Once this brilliant thought came into our mind, we stopped looking at everything in shades of black and grey and turned it into bright lights. We weren’t going to let rough times define us, but build our marriage; we made them stepping stones to the marriage we wanted. Instead of pulling us away from each other we ran into each other’s arms. We grew closer as friends and as husband and wife! We turned everything over to God, we asked Him to lead our marriage where He wanted it. We accepted everything as it was and stopped worrying and started enjoying all we had together. And guess what happened??? Everything started to fall into place, we were blessed with a pregnancy that lead to our youngest daughter Evelynn, he was able to return to days, I became a stay at home mom, and we are still in love with our church family that has led to many amazing friendships!
I know look at motherhood much the same way, I am not my mother and I am not my husband’s mother I am me, Ashlie-My daughters mother! And I am OK with that, we still take what we learned from our parents but we have made it work for us. Yes we still may struggle with figuring out what that means but the one thing we BOTH learned is that with love and patience you can’t go wrong.
Photos by close friend and very talented Rachael at http://www.panachelouisvillephotography.com/