Warning. This may get mushy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I really don’t care if Tommy is the only one to read this. I just want to use this blog post to document my thoughts about my wonderful hubs at this stage in my life.
Most of you know how Tommy and I met. We truly believe it was a “God thing”. Who would have thought that I would marry a boy from across the country that I met at a youth gathering? Not. Me. Throughout my life I feel God has given me small glances of the upcoming events in my life because he knows I am a planner. I like to know what is ahead. That is what that youth gathering was for me. I knew when I met him there was something different going on. It was like a sense of relief. We spent a lot of time together in St. Louis and then parted ways.
We continued to email and chat with each other on the computer for the rest of that summer. But, as our senior year of high school began, we got busy and lost touch. During that school year we both dated other people but, at least for me, he was always in the back of my mind. I would even talk about him to my friends and they would just smile and nod knowing that he was too far away for anything serious to happen.
Well, freshman year of college commenced and due to the fact that I just got out of a relationship and swore off dating, AND Tommy attending a military school where there is NOTHING to do… we started to chat a lot with all of our extra time. Because Tommy was not allowed to have a phone, most of this was done on the internet through AIM. I laugh even typing that. We would leave cute messages and dream about one day seeing each other again. One day he called me and I freaked out. There wasn’t butterflies in my stomach, but more like one of those giant freaky moths that live in the jungle. The months passed and we continued to yearn to meet up again. We were determined to make this happen. MANY prayers were said.
My aunt had a round trip plane ticket that she would not be able to use before it expired and offered it to me. Hello answer. I cried. Cried for joy, but also for the fact that I now had to convince my parents to let me fly 1,000 miles away to see a BOY whom they had never met and knew nothing about. After a few phone calls exchanged between our mothers and many promises that it would be okay, they agreed to let me fly out to see him for 10 days. With the Florer secret panic emergency word in tact, I left bringing my giant moth with me.
We stayed up until 5:00 am every morning just being together and talking and getting to know each other . We knew we had limited time and so we didn’t want to waste a minute on something as stupid as sleep. (wow has that changed). Living on 2 hours or so of sleep a night we were in the clouds discovering what this relationship would turn out to be. In the end we weighed our options of how difficult a long distance relationship would be. We decided it would be much harder on both of us not to give it a try, so we committed to being together. He would fly out to Iowa a few weeks after I left and I would make one more trip out to Maryland before parting ways and heading back to our respectable colleges.
Tommy didn’t have the normal college experience. He had to deal with me going out on weekends while he got to watch a movie in some form of uniform and spent many hours worrying about other boys and their “ways” as he would say. It was difficult for both of us to be apart, but much more difficult for him living in a land of barren activity, which allowed his mind to worry more than he needed to.
There were the occasional events where I would drive 17 hours to and from through the night just to see him for 48 hours, and we spent summers together, but otherwise, packages, phone calls where Tommy had to sit in a big room with payphones, and emails were our lifeline to each other. It would have been easy for us to give up and I was surrounded by people who didn’t take this relationship seriously because we were so far apart. But I knew what I had. His family and friends kept telling me how much he had changed since starting to date me, how much more he smiled and talked. That had to mean he actually liked me too, right?
Eventually Tommy moved here to Iowa. This was painstakingly hard. We both grew up having our whole family live within a 20 minute radius. Cousins are like sisters and brothers and family traditions run thick. For Tommy to leave was really hard, and still is, and has become even harder now that we have children. We knew we had to end up either here in Iowa, or in Maryland because we wanted to be around family. The job market and the cost of living is a little easier on the stress meter here in Iowa, so this is where we landed. He had to learn a whole new city, make new pals, and get used to crappy seafood (still hasn’t really happened). He had to learn to live around my VERY extroverted family, and this in itself should earn him an award.
He proposed to me in front of my entire family, with a ring that he helped design out of wax to make so it would be one of a kind. A girl’s dream. He actually planned the wedding WITH me, even though he would have rather been sipping an ice-cold beer and watching a football game than choosing invitations or guest lists. After our wedding reception he drove around down town for close to an hour because I asked him to due to the fact that I was too nervous to “go home”. Now THAT’S love… and patience.
We’ve traveled to Africa together and learned the importance of mission work and keeping things in perspective. Seeing your spouse serve those in need is something very powerful. In fact, that is just what Tommy was doing when I KNEW I was going to marry him about 2 years into our relationship; we were at a grocery store and it was pouring out, while we were running out to our car we passed a little old lady trying to carry way too many groceries. I didn’t see her, Tommy did. I got to my door and was anxiously looking around to see what happened to him as I was being drenched and I saw him helping that sweet woman put her groceries in her car. I cry every time I think of it still today. Not only because it was so sweet, but because I remember the feeling I had at that exact moment. Whoa. Sorry to go from Africa to a grocery store, but the point is, it has been wonderful serving in ministry and mission work and I truly believe that a couple that serves together grows a stronger marriage.
He also planned a beautiful trip to Italy. As most of you know, we went through an exhausting process trying to start a family. I needed to get away and not plan anything for once in my life. He devised an entire trip and an outline of each day and expenses knowing that I like things organized and we took off for Rome in 2009. It was amazing. I was recently talking to a friend who said she and her husband would be too scarred to travel alone in a foreign place, and wondered how we did it. I know MANY people travel and explore all of the time for many reasons, but for us, we just enjoy being together and learning new things and knowing that whatever is thrown our way, good or bad or really weird, at least we are in it together.
Bringing me to my last cheer for Tommy in this REALLY long blog. Tommy was amazing in our long process of starting our family. He held my hand through the emotional roller coaster of negative results and positive hopes. Again, I feel God gave me a glimpse of what was coming to prepare me a little or surround me with support. I say this because the class I was teaching when I became pregnant had two sets of triplets in it (not all in the same group). That was one of the first thoughts that had crossed my mind when we saw that ultrasound. How. Weird. When Tommy learned we were pregnant with triplets, he almost passed out, but was overflowing with excitement. Yes, we had more than our fair share of worries, but he was so supportive which allowed me to be more calm. He tied my shoes when I could no longer see them, he rubbed my belly and talked to each girl at night, he gave up green peppers when the smell of them made me vomit, and he woke up with me in the middle of the night when I would have panic attacks about being a mother of triplets. He sat by my side in the hospital and cried for me when I was too sick or too scared to do it myself and encouraged me every minute of every day. I was too sick to be up in the NICU all day for the first couple of days the girls were there, so he changed all of the diapers and did as many of the feedings as he could. He would jump for joy when I used the breast pump for 30 minutes and only 5 drops came out in those first few days. He drew those drops up into a syringe and carefully carried them up to the NICU like they were made of gold. I am sure it is not so attractive to see your wife swollen, crying, un-showered, catheter-ized, with a breast pump constantly attached to her, but he told me I was beautiful every day.(sorry for those of you for whom that was an overshare.)
I rarely have to ask him to change a diaper or take the garbage out, he just does it because it needs done. He gets up every morning and helps me before he goes off to work a 10-hour stressful day, and comes home to feed and play with our babies before we go to bed and start the dance all over again. He. Is. Amazing. Not just because he is my husband, but because he is a good man. We make each other laugh each day and hug it out after all of our fights. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have our grumpy moments with each other, but I am ever aware that not everyone has such a handsome, willing, supportive, sensitive, and ambitious husband. We’re not sure that we are doing this whole parenting thing completely right, but we are doing the best we know how. Together. And that is all that matters. 8 years so far, many more full of adventures to come.