When I was younger and my whole world was in upheaval I spent 10 days in Arizona with my Aunt, Uncle and their family. I'm sure they meant it as a little vacation for me, a break from all that was going on in my home and life back in Utah, but it was so much more than that.
In those 10 days I learned so much! I learned how to sort my own laundry when I took it to the laundry room to be washed. Nicely, into three separate baskets, "whites, lights and darks". I learned how to swim in their backyard pool. Not the kind of swimming you might think a preteen would learn, but the basic stuff like doggie paddle (full disclosure I still can't do a proper stroke). I learned the importance of sunscreen and shade. But mostly, what I learned while in their home was love. The kind of love that radiates with a simple look. There was love in my home too, but my Dad was sick for most of my life. He spent a lot of time in his bed. When he was feeling well I do remember he and my Mom hugging and serving one another, but it was the time I spent in my Aunt and Uncle's home that made me realize how important love was.
The moment that sticks most in my mind was the day my younger cousin and I had just come inside from spending the last 6 hours in the pool. My Aunt had been busy making bread, cooking dinner and taking kids this place and that. There was laundry tumbling in the dryer and another fresh load washing in the washer. She had a very crazy busy day that day. My Uncle walked in from a long day at work and my Aunt dropped everything and walked away from what she was working on. I had heard him come in, but I wasn't sure where she was going, so I quietly followed. She left the kitchen and walked to the entryway. When she looked at my Uncle her face lit up. They both smiled and gave each other a hug and kiss. He put his arm around her and they walked back into the kitchen together where she continued to finish dinner and he asked her about her day and how he could help. I stood there kind of dumbfounded. It was like a Leave it to Beaver episode, but it really happened. Then I notice that it happened nearly every single day. The house wasn't always filled with the smell of fresh homemade bread and laundry wasn't always going, but every day when he walked through the door she stopped everything and walked to him, then kiss, hug, his arm around her and finally talking about their days. They always talked to each other with respect, looking each other in the eye and were engaged each others part of the conversation. They disagreed in opinion, but never was an eye rolled or a face turned away with disgust or anger. They held hands any moment they could. Were they perfect? No. Did things go wrong? Absolutely, but they were so obviously in love that their love overshadowed the rest. I promised myself that when I got married it would be like that.
Reality is, it's harder than it looked. Much, much harder and I'm sure they would agree. Often times when my husband gets home from work I keep on cooking dinner or doing spelling homework with the kids. Often I give my husband the "save me from the screaming toddler" look instead of the, "I've been waiting all day for you" look. Rarely are my washer and dryer both going at the same time and I have still yet to teach my children how to sort their own laundry into the designated baskets. Our phones sometimes seem to have take the place of loving eye contact when we talk to each other and even some days take the place of conversation. But I sure do love my Husband. More than anything in the world.
When I saw my Aunt and Uncle sitting on a bench, at my baby brothers wedding, talking, laughing and looking each other in the eye with that same look I witnessed over 20 years ago, it brought back a flood of memories that I had let slip away years and years ago. I was reminded of what my younger self wanted for my husband and I. I wanted him to know every day without question how much I loved him. I realized in that moment that I had been failing, not just my husband, but myself and my kids. Does everything need to be perfect? No, but do I need to stop every day, when he walks in the door and make sure he sees me look in his eyes as I tell him how I missed him. YES! I realized in that moment that somehow I got so caught up in everything that needed to be done in a day that I forgot the most important thing. LOVE. I forgot that showing love is what matters in life.
I'm working on it. Really. Bad habits are hard to break, but it's not as hard when you remember what you wanted in the first place. I realize this is not everyones ideal, but it is mine. I want my children to grow up in a house filled with love. I want them to see their Mom and Dad hug, kiss and hold hands all that we can. I want them to see us not looking at our phones, but at each other. I want them to see us talking to each other, because I think conversation is kind of a dying art. I want them to never doubt that we loved each other. More than anything.
That summer the most important thing I learned was how to show love. They thought they were giving me a vacation, a break from life, a chance to not have to worry about what the next catastrophe would be, but what they were really doing was teaching me how to love.
It's a lesson I hope I never forget again.