Sunday, April 7, 2013

Open Letter: Thriving or Surviving

Hey love,

It should come to no surprise to anyone that you are awesome, that you are brilliant, that you are stunning, that you are fun, that you are kind, that you are a visionary, ad infinitum.

But tonight something else struck home. I was asked by a wise friend what I've noticed with you away--how things are different. You've been away with Evelyn this weekend, seeing family back west, leaving me with the two Gronks. I've realized these past days how incredible you are at your work. We've had a great time, to be sure, which has included hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, cookies, a Lion King party (the Scar-free version which is actually only about 40 minutes), conference watching, gospel discussion, yard work, hide and seek, lots of laughing (you've got to see them sing in unison their renditions of "Sisters Suffragette" from Mary Poppins; it's hilarious how consistently they say the same made-up words), reading, etc. Camping and Chuckee Cheese's are also on the list.

But fun is no substitute for substance. Surviving is no substitute for thriving.

The experience the boys have with you is so much more comprehensive and deep. It's spiritual enlightenment, physical nourishment, mental expansion, all in a soul-enriching environment. Tonight Hammer told our friends all of the things I can't cook, and when asked what I can cook, he strategically pivoted, telling them the food I like, so as not to expose the scarcity of my culinary repertoire. He also confessed to them (hotdog in hand): "we've had a lot of meat" with the face of an escaped convict, worried about being caught but also partly wanting to (both boys devoured the plate of cucumbers and hummus on the table, which clearly served as comfort food). Your first night away, as I was getting Jammer into bed, he muttered almost to himself, "I miss Mommy." Today I found Abe cutting up a thank you card someone had sent us with a nice family picture on one side. My immediate reaction was to tell him not to cut it up, but he coolly replied, "I know Mommy would say we don't need this anymore." And as I thought about it, I realized he was right. It was almost as if he was purposefully showing me that my parenting style is this contrived attempt to imitate what I think you would do, but he knows the difference. 

Abe was genuinely nervous when he heard you were leaving--you've never been away from the boys for this length of time--and asked sincerely, "What if something happens?" I pretended not to be insulted with that comment in its sweeping scope, but have since realized the stinging truth of it. What if something happens? Like they need to eat something that will sustain and strengthen them? Or if we want to go camping and need to know what to bring, where to go, when to leave, and what to eat? Or if we want to maintain discipline through chores and routines? Or if we want to be an orderly environment, not just clean, but orderly!? Or if someone gets hurt, or gets a tick, or won't take a nap, or asks constant questions and expects a listening ear and appropriate response? What if something happens?! 

Well, things have happened. And we've survived. But we haven't thrived. I am in absolute awe and admiration for you, Ariel. I'm grateful, honored, and humbled to be at your side in the great work of parenting. I can't pull it off alone, and I know you could, can, and do much of the time--but I'm grateful we can do this amazing work together. Our morning devotionals have been good, our bedtime routines have been smooth, everyone is generally getting along--but there are so many gaps and holes and pieces missing. You have this nuanced, graceful way about you. I've always appreciated it to some degree, and enjoy expressing appreciation. But this immersive experience into 2/3 of your world has embedded a new level of love and respect for you. So much so that it has demanded an open letter.  

I love you. Come home soon. We'll try to keep things sufficiently together until you do.




Andrew and Ariel said...

Thanks, Love! It sounds like you boys are having a great time. I'm never worried about things when I'm away. You are a wonderful, capable, involved dad, and there are lots of things you can cook!

Give those sweet gronks a kiss on the head, and I'll be home soon.



Kate said...

Whoa this is awesome. Ariel is a fantastic Mom-- and you are an amazing husband to constantly affirm her and appreciate her. What a great famdam. I miss you guys.

Camerzi said...

I loved that! It takes a great man to sufficiently appreciate a great woman.

Wish I could hang out with your little gronks for a week! I hope they can do a W-burg sleepover sometime.

Anna Peterson said...

What a beautiful letter. I too am impressed by Ariel's mothering. You have such a beautiful family. Thank you for both of your examples!

Lark said...

I'll bet being home with Dad was pretty grand for the boys. Playing with the girls was heavenly. Thanks for letting them come. Now if I could get just a bit more cheek to cheek nuzzle time with Eve...!