Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Joel,

The past couple years I've written letters to the kids, but this year I have found myself mentally composing one to you, as well, as I've driven the kids around or vacuumed bedrooms or held the plank position at pilates. I think this year, if ever there was a year, has declared us as a couple. Eleven (and a half!) years ago we got the marriage certificate and thought we knew that we wanted to be together forever. With each passing year, it feels like the foundation under that word "forever" is strengthened and fortified.

This year we faced the most stressful period in our marriage. I was going to use vague words like "probably" and "might be" but I'll say it: It was hard. You were laid off in an economy that wasn't generous with (any) compensation packages. You work in an industry that is very flighty and unforgiving. You worked with a bunch of jerks. (Ok, that last one might be steeped in bitterness. I'm allowed a little.)

Then at the end of April you were offered a job in California. For reasons we discussed at length that I won't go into here, we turned it down. The week leading up to that decision was...well, stressful isn't a big enough word. We did a lot of not-talking. I did a lot of crying. It just didn't feel right to me at all. You said you didn't feel anything, but wondered how wise it was to turn down an offer when there wasn't anything else.

But there was you.

I can't adequately tell you how much I love you. You have worked tirelessly to provide for our family. You have brought in little jobs and big projects and our needs and some wants are met. There are some weeks you worry that the stream of jobs is tapering off, and then the next week you're trying to figure out how to get so much done in so little time.

I love having you work at home. Some people ask, "How is it going?" in the same tone you'd ask, "How bad was that category 5 hurricane?" And I have to respond, "Way better than I hoped!" I love having you here when the kids leave for school. Some days you actually get to walk them to school. You're usually here in the afternoon when they get home, so the kids can run right in and tell you about their day and give you a hug. You eat dinner with us now about as often as you didn't before.

About a month ago you left to go to a meeting downtown for the second day in a row. Donovan asked me where you were. I said, "He went to work." Donovan responded, "AGAIN?!" I had to laugh. He clearly does not remember the countless nights they'd go to sleep before you got home.

There's a lot of stress that goes along with finding your own projects. But also a lot of satisfaction in working for yourself. You seem genuinely surprised when people like your concepts and re-hire you. It just so happens that you are a phenomenal art director. I am proud of you, and that people recognize your talent. More importantly, to me, you are an outstanding father, husband, friend.

I think the thing I got out of that painful week of weighing the pros and cons of a huge life decision was that you value me. We talked (and not-talked) about our options. I asked you if, when it got hard, you would throw the decision to stay back at me, as if it were my fault. You evenly said that no, once a decision was made we'd just move on, but that you needed me to know we were making this choice together, and you didn't want me blaming you if things got hard. We agreed, and the decision was made. We haven't looked back, we've just moved forward.

When I write the book of our life, this year will be the beginning of Part III: When We Grew Up (fyi - Part I: We're Married!; Part II: Let's Procreate). It's the year we put into practice everything we'd been told about being equal partners. It's the year we gave and took. It's the year I knew forever is going to be marvelous.


ps - I'm also super impressed with your intense workout schedule and how you're getting super strong, but that seemed maybe a little superficial for the sentiments expressed here. But still, nice guns.


janine said...

I have to say....I was waiting for the "you're so buff" paragraph! ha ha! We're glad you stayed:)

wanda said...

Falling in love is easy. Finding someone to love, respect and admire and be a team with is priceless. Joel is priceless.

Lisa said...

I looove the P.S. Too funny.

Joel said...

Wanda, you are sweet.