I’m so homesick for my girlies tonight. I’ve been thinking about how the tenor of a home changes when the population of the house shifts.
We still have Nettie and Cecilia but it isn’t the same as having “children” at home. Certain Man and I have talked more, laughed much, and enjoyed the quiet some of the time. We figured out that the last time we were “childless” was November of 1975. We took our first foster baby in early December, and life as we knew it changed forever. Six months after Joseph came to live with us, we took a second foster toddler, and since then (like for the last 33 years) there have been at least two “children” living with us.
Parenting has been the most challenging, most defining, most rewarding, most devastating thing that has ever happened to us. Many are the tales of parenting bringing a wedge between a couple, of looking across the table on the morning of an empty nest and feeling like there is no connection to this person who has parented with you. How grateful I am to our Heavenly Father, and to my husband that it has done practically the opposite for us. In the months before our first foster baby came to live with us, our very young marriage was tested severely as I learned that my expectations and selfish dreams drove my husband farther and farther away from me. Panic and desperation and grief and disappointment made me into a person that was something so much less than my husband had expected, and into someone I didn’t know myself — was this what marriage was really supposed to be like?
We both wanted children, but when our first two, very planned pregnancies ended in miscarriage, somehow the stories started, then flew fast and furious about how I really didn’t want them anyhow, and that I would be alot better off if I would just own up to that fact. I was broken by the grief, my family was so far away, and it seemed like both of us were just retreating into our own worlds. I look back now, and realize how devastated we both were by the losses, and I wish that I could go back there and do things differently. I remember that when I was miscarrying the second baby, I told Daniel that I needed to go to the hospital, and I went to pack a bag. He didn’t come in to help me, he just stayed out in the living room where he was. When I came back out to tell him that I was ready to go, he was sitting in the terrible orange recliner that we had rescued from the garbage, and he was weeping. I remember feeling very surprised, but then extremely tender towards this guy who loved our child so intensely.
I had no idea what sort of daddy he would be, but with our first foster child came an amazing discovery. A baby in the house made a startling change in Daniel. He was an involved, caring and delighted daddy. He loved children with an intensity that I could hardly comprehend. And as he involved himself in the lives of the children that went in and out of our doors, it became natural for him to relate to me in a different, more tender way. He began to make it his business to understand me and what made me tick. He became more articulate about his feelings, more patient, more committed to our marriage and our home. It was an incredible gift to the children that we were allowed to love, but the by-product of that gift was a renewed sense of balance, self esteem and joy in my life.
You would all know that if I said it has been easy ever since, I would be lying. It hasn’t. We continue to grow and change and sometimes disagree. I’ve learned that arguing with Daniel Yutzy is an exercise in futility. (He makes up the rules as he goes, and it just doesn’t work that way!) But I’ve also learned that no one could or would provide for, love me, or encourage me the way he does. He has learned that I don’t shut cupboard doors, use up leftovers the way I should, take care of the garden, polish shoes, or make certain dishes from his childhood that taste right. He has learned though, that he is safe with me. I don’t think it is my place to criticize my husband — there are lots of people out there that will do that. He’s learned that I will do almost anything within my power to please him (well, except remember to close the cupboard doors, use up left overs the way I should . . . etc. etc.)
What has happened is that we have become good friends. And though our house feels empty without our girlies rattling around in it, there is a comfortable friendship here that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am missing my girlies, but it isn’t because Certain Man is a stranger. What comforts me so much is that he misses them, too. It is something that has become a shared emotion. And we are also comforted by the fact that just down the road, around a corner or two, is our new little grandbaby. She really is an unusually precious baby. So sweet, so beautiful, so very wanted, so very loved. I watched him today with her, as he toted her around to show her off to his co-workers and I wondered again about how we got to where we are — parents, grandparents, both of us a little creaky in our bones, but still so very much friends. I respect the man he has become, and enjoy so much to see him as he relates to his children and now his grandbaby. I always said that he would be “insufferable” as a grandpa, and I was completely right. He is absolutely “insufferable!”
And I love it.