I know you’ll see the pictures. You’ll hear the stories. You’ll almost feel as if you were there with us, taking in the sights and sounds, experiencing the tastes and smells.
But you weren’t. You were home.
You were coloring, playing in the backyard, eating your morning snack, bouncing in your Exersaucer, playing with cars, putting together puzzles, trying desperately to crawl, and watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. All of the things that we usually do together, the three of us. Yet, this time, Mommy wasn’t there. She was with Daddy, in a different city. Or state. Or country.
And it used to be that you didn’t even know the difference; we’d disappear for a few days, even weeks, leaving you to be utterly spoiled by your grandparents, never batting an eye at the fact that Mom and Dad had just up and gone.
Now, though…now you know. Or at least you do, big brother. So we sneak away in the wee hours of the morning, savoring every second of bedtime routines that night before, knowing full well that we’ll be on our way, off on our grand adventure, before you even open your eyes.
Which is hard. Putting you both to bed, knowing I won’t see your sweet faces, hear your precious voice and contagious laughter, or snuggle your tiny but ever-growing bodies for the next few days – it’s emotional. Tears well up as I kiss you goodnight, the feeling that such a mundane moment has suddenly become so very monumental.
But it would be harder not to go. It would be harder not to have those little reminders as we wander around Disney World or travel the winding roads among the lush, sheep-laden hills of Ireland or soak up the awe-inspiring beauty at the Art Institute in Chicago that before there was even a Hudson or a Jones, there was just Mommy and Daddy. Yet we weren’t Mommy and Daddy, we were Krista and Randy.
And although our lives are saturated with more joy and love than we could have ever imagined now that we are a family of four, we oftentimes forget that somewhere, buried beneath Mommy and Daddy, we are still Krista and Randy.
The most magnificent part of it all, though, is that in becoming Mommy and Daddy, we have been wholly refined. We have, day after day, been purified, honed, and perfected. Very little of who we once were remains untouched; we are not the same Krista and Randy that we were ten years ago (Praise Jesus for that), 6 months ago, or one minute ago. The two of you, you have been the catalysts to the most wonderful transformation in your father and me. Thanks to you, we are improved, renewed, and restored.
So while your daddy is my very best friend, and while you’d think that we’d be bored of each other by now, all of our most interesting stories long spent, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Because, my sweet ones, you have gifted me a new man to love. You have blessed me with a man who is now a father, a man whose hopes, dreams, fears, goals, likes and dislikes are evolving each and every day. A man who will have a different plan, a brand new idea, a greater adventure in mind for tomorrow than he did today. And he’ll share them with me, then he will undoubtedly challenge me to come up with my own tremendous dream, reminding me that there is still so much I have to learn about not only him but also myself.
And all of this makes adventuring with your dad that much grander; as we discover new lands and people and foods and ways of life, we’re simultaneously discovering new versions of ourselves. We’re unearthing the unbelievable ways in which the two of you have molded us, the ways in which you have shaped us into exactly who we were destined to be.
That means that this whole journey of me getting to know your dad, of learning about this man that I’ve built a life with: it’s unending. So I’m determined to make that journey a priority, to give it the space and time and breath and energy that it deserves.
One day, my loves, you will have the same opportunity placed before you, and I pray that you seize it. Without hesitation, without fear, without anxiety or doubt. Your marriage is worth the investment; it is worth being tended to and cared for. And this is one, small way in which your father and I have chosen to do just that.
So, to my little men: thank you.
Thank you for allowing us the freedom to adventure. Thank you for removing the sting of returning home. Thank you for taking the end of an adventure and making it oh so sweet, because coming home has never been so beautiful.
And just remember, you are and always will be the most incredible journey of our lives, so don’t ever let yourselves believe otherwise.