Brian and Sarah

“Mumma, I frowed up.”

We wake to the pitiful words of a filthy tiny girl who promptly throws up again all over our bedding and my maternity jammies.

It’s 2:07 in the morning.

This is what we do without exchanging a word: I take care of the girl – washing her sturdy small body in warm bath water then finding clean jammies and snuggling while he takes care of her sheets and the carpets, opens windows, starts the laundry. Together we make a warm little bed on the floor next to our bed with the old toddler bed mattress, we switch sides of the bed so I can be closer to the little sickie, and then we are all back asleep, exhausted. It’s our sick kid rhythm, developed over the years, and in particular over this past two weeks of on-again-off-again stomach flu for one tiny.

Nearly sixteen years ago, we built our love on the set times of our togetherness: let’s meet after class, let’s go out for a date tonight I’ll see you at 8 o’clock, okay? We went for long drives and talked about the future together. An unrepentant morning person, I signed up for 7:50 classes and, even though it went against his natural night owl tendencies, he woke up early just to eat breakfast with me: then love looked like 7:20 in the cafeteria, black coffee in hand.

In the hours leading up to curfew, we parked on lonely backroads to kiss until we were too dizzy to drive, listening to the songs on the radio. We were at the mercy of late-night DJs or carefully curated mix tapes. Love felt sexy and a bit wild, purposeful and mysterious. Midnight drew near and we drove frantically back to campus. I was the Head RA skidding into the dorm, barely on time.

We swore we wouldn’t become those tired ones in the middle of their life, living just a regular sort of life. We are meant for more than the ordinary! we bought the lie, hook line and sinker from the evangelical hero complex. Life was meant to be an adventure, filled with risk and romance. Love would look like this for us forever. Like we were somehow above or better than the minivans and mortgages, the tub scrubbing and sheet washing, like our clock would always be made up of bright mornings and late nights.

But here’s the truth: lifelong love is actually most built throughout the hours of the day, all twenty four of them, in the ordinary moments of our humanity. Lifelong love isn’t just for lazy Saturday mornings of coffee and books, it’s not just midnight breathlessness scented with perfume, it’s not just evening dinners with a bottle of wine. Those moments of our lives are lovely and necessary, too, but they’re not the fullness of love either.  Love looks like choosing each other, again, in all of the rotations of the clock’s hands, in all of the years we share together, in the seasons and the minutes. It’s glamorous and sexy, and it’s boring and daily.

I have come to believe that lifelong love often looks extraordinary, yes, but it’s because we are faithful to love well in the ordinary minutes of our days. 

Because love also looks like 2:07 a.m. with sick kids and it looks like 8:10 a.m. when everyone is running late to school and work. It looks like laying on the couch together at 9:18 p.m. on a Friday and admitting that you both just want to go to sleep already. It’s sneaking into each other’s early morning showers on weekdays. It’s heating up leftovers at 5:37 p.m. on Thursdays, it’s organizing closets on Saturday afternoons at 1:28 p.m. after the morning’s dentist appointments followed by stern lectures about flossing, too. It’s the time when our words are sharp or, worse, disappearing from each other. It’s 2:46 p.m. and 7:15 a.m. and 6:55 a.m., those minutes when our babies safely arrived earthside, breathed our air for the first time, and he wept with relief and I laughed like Sarah of old. It’s kissing under the stars at midnight, yes, and dancing slow in the kitchen-that-still-needs-to-be-cleaned, while tinies do homework at the table and crumbs stick to our feet.

It’s easier to feel love in certain minutes of the day, I know this. And I also know that by 2:42 a.m. when all has been restored and babies are sleeping again and the window is cracked open for a bit of fresh air, when we are back in our bed and quietly groaning at how over-the-puking-thing we both are by now, it’s then, when he reaches out for me and moves the hair back off my neck before resting his calloused hands on the baby still growing within me, when the baby rolls up against his palm, and he whispers, “hey, you” quietly, it’s in that moment that I think the love we make or find or reimagine at the unexpected moments is still the sweetest.

 

I write now and again about what love looks like for us.

photo of us by Tina Francis Mutungu

 

 

 

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  • lndwhr

    Beautiful. And so true. I celebrate year 25 this year with my guy. And this essay explains exactly how we got this far. Thanks Sarah. <3

  • Jennie Melton Strope

    These are always my favorite posts.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I have to confess, they’re some of my favourites, too. :-)

  • http://simply-rea.blogspot.com Rea

    I agree with Jennie, these are some of my favorites. They send my mind flitting back over the days and weeks and years and all of the ordinary moments I’ve shared with my husband. And the love rises up in my heart all over again.

  • Sandy Hay

    I wish….

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/ James Prescott

    These are my favourite posts too…such beautiful writing, such a beautiful love & a beautiful marriage. I can only hope to find all three. Thank you Sarah, your writing moves me so deeply. Thank you.

  • http://mrodor.blogspot.com/ Micah

    So, so, so good. Thank you for this.

  • http://www.idelette.com idelette

    Omygosh. Amazing.

  • http://www.inahazelnutshell.blogspot.com/ Laura Werezak

    I have so missed these posts, Sarah. Thank you. So beautiful and challenging, because isn’t it just the hardest thing about life to appreciate the beauty and grace available to us in those 2:07am wake ups? Telling the story this way helps. I’m sure it helps you, and it definitely helps me.

  • http://forasweetsurrender.blogspot.com Olivia Grantt

    So, so beautiful.

  • Amy

    That was so very beautiful, Sarah. It’s so good to remember that in the seasons of quietly working hard on life together.

  • Jean

    Best. My husband and I were dealing with a puke-y baby last night too…we’re not so veteran, so Ben had several “What-do-I-do-now?” moments while I tried to remain calm as baby HB screamed. Love is messy, and ordinary, and looks a lot like laundry.

  • http://thecityspace.wordpress.com/ Rachel Quednau

    As someone who is young and more in the lazy-saturday-mornings-and-wine-with-dinner phase of a relationship, thank you for this piece. Such powerful perspective.

  • Jessica P

    This is so sweet I love it. Esp the last line. :)

  • Nicole Saindon

    This made me teary, in a fabulous way. Thanks Sarah, love these posts.

  • Kim Garbison

    Love it!!!!!I was planning on just the kids and I going to my mom’s. My husband came in from elementary boys’ basketball practice to say his game is at 8am so he can go with us. It was a total “Huh! Really?!” moment.

  • http://www.julieannemauno.com Julie-Anne Mauno

    Sarah, there are hardly words to thank you for the way you used your own words to paint the story of love so many of us are living and embracing as the years go by. Just love what you wrote so, so much! You’re a gem. Beautiful!

  • http://asweetaroma215.blogspot.com/ Brandy Miller

    Wow! GORGEOUS! Husband and I have only been married for 15 months. We had short dating and engagement periods before. So many people warned to soak up those moments because they were way more exciting and romantic than married life. I so so disagree. I love getting to snuggle into my husband after I’ve had a bad dream. I adore our time in the kitchen putting dishes away discussing what God’s spoke to us that day. I love tickle fights and the make ups and the wake up kisses. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of what love looks like.

    • tt

      The first time I really knew I wanted to marry my husband was a random moment when we were washing dishes together in his kitchen. Seriously, not a romantic word passed between us in that moment either. It was just the comfortable mundane and I knew that I could do that with him for life. After we got engaged a friend who has too many rom-coms and Disney princesses cluttering her judgement asked me when I knew it was the real deal. I told her that and she huffed and puffed then moaned “but that’s not ROMANTIC”. No coincidence that she is 43 now and has never gone on a second date…she rules every guy out if there are no “fireworks” or “music” or “gazing into each other’s eyes and not looking away” on the first date. Those things are lovely. But they are not the reality of daily life for years.

      • http://asweetaroma215.blogspot.com/ Brandy Miller

        Our first date was a classic Italian and a trip to Despicable Me :) He was a kid at heart. no fireworks but definite potential. I was crazy about him… and still am.

  • http://lifebreathpresent.com/ LB Present

    Love is so many things. Love for life is so full of everything that makes the days go by. And I love that kind of shared love. I always feel a special tingle in my heart when I hear or read the sweet words of real everyday all the time truthful love, like this. What a wonderful post, Sarah! :)

  • Miriam the Baby Geek

    Hello, Kia Ora. This is great stuff, Sarah. Just beautiful. My pal has forwarded me this and so now I get the joy of roaming your site. One of the things I’m digging about this post is that you bring visibility to the invisible. So much of mothering is invisible! Similarly, I long to share with you the beautiful work of a British author and psychotherapist Naomi Stadlen, whose new book “How Mothers Love” is a reminder of the sorts of things you’re illustrating: what love looks like!! Arohanui xx Miriam xx http://www.baby.geek.nz

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  • http://littledidsheknow.net/ Cara Strickland

    Oh Sarah, you made me cry.
    I love it when you share whispers of your love story.

  • Joel

    Thanks for putting my life into words that I can step away from. See the beauty. Step back into. Live with greater appreciation for the love I enjoy.

  • Nicole Hallford

    So beautifully said!

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  • http://bethanybassett.com/ Bethany Bassett

    I will never get tired of your “Love Looks Like” series. Never.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thank you so much, Bethany – so glad to hear that since I do like writing them so much still. It helps me find the thread of true in the real life stuff, you know?

  • Christine

    What a beautiful description. I’m a huge fan of the boring, lifelong sort of love, even though it tends to come with vomit.

  • Naomi

    Beautiful and true.

  • Amanda Caldwell

    You made me cry, because it is all so true. Thank you :’)

  • Roberto

    This is so true, and so tearfully beautiful. This is what couples that fell in love and then decided to stay in love for the long haul, look like.
    It’s the real, best kind of love. The kind that always gets up again, no matter what, the kind that ‘for better or worse” actually mean something.
    Heroes are in it for the marathon, not the 100 yards dash.
    Splendidly true.

  • http://www.thescooponbalance.com Sandy_TheScoopOnBalance

    Sarah, this post was so beautiful, real, raw.

    And you, my dear, get the Wife of the Year Award for having sex in the middle of the night AFTER you’ve cleaned up puke.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Wait, wait…I didn’t say that, did I? I’m not super human, woman. 😉

      • http://www.thescooponbalance.com Sandy_TheScoopOnBalance

        “And I also know that by 2:42 a.m. when all has been restored and babies are sleeping again and the window is cracked open for a bit of fresh air, when we are back in our bed and quietly groaning at how over-the-puking-thing we both are by now, it’s then, when he reaches out for me and moves the hair back off my neck before resting his calloused hands on the baby still growing within me, when the baby rolls up against his palm, and he whispers, “hey, you” quietly, it’s in that moment that I think the love we make or find or reimagine at the unexpected moments is still the sweetest.”

        OK…I just read it for the third time, and realized he was saying “hey you” to the baby, not you. And the “love you made” was not literal…OK..OK. I see this now.

        I’m so relieved, actually. Because for all day I’ve been thinking, “She cleaned up puke in the middle of the night and she’s pregnant…and she still has energy for love-making.” Thank you for clarifying.

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com/ Krista

    Oh. We did the on again off again puking thing for 3 weeks last year. I’m so sorry. If it helps any I finally quarantined all my kids at home for a week because I’m pretty sure my oldest was bringing it home from school and getting his baby sister sick every few days. And we were getting on an international flight for Christmas right after that!
    But hooray for spouses who just know how to do the help dance so we can all go back to sleep dinner.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Quarantines for the win!

  • Greer Oharah

    This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.blessedarethefeet.com/ Colleen Connell Mitchell

    You know love well, dear. And you remind us just what it really is. Inspired to be better in all the moments of my days. Thanks.

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    I am tearing up happy.
    Yes.
    xo

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  • LauraWL

    +1 to this. Me and my husband are in the midst of hard stuff: Sickness, family deaths, a young baby who wakes up a lot at night, long hours at jobs, unemployment, new jobs, preparing to raise our niece, trying to finance a house and in the midst of it all we still find each other’s hands to hold in bed at night. I think still reaching out to each other when in the deep parts of marriage, that’s true love.

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  • Julie S.

    This is such a lovely post!

  • ABfield

    “Evangelical Hero Complex”, well said. It’s relatively easy going to church and contributing before kids. After my first year of being a father, it dawned on me why neither Jesus nor any of the apostles had kids; who has the time for that and church??

  • Bekah Stolhandske McNeel

    This meant so much to me. I grieved a little as our 3 year luxurious love-fest changed when we added our daughter (10 months). But this reminded me of the sturdy love that I really want. Thank you! And you did it without a tone of martyrdom…how nice!

  • Minerva Sue

    Beautiful. It gives me hope that there’s something beyond slamming doors, heart-wrenching hurtful words and ever present fear. Thank you so much for sharing your “ordinary” moment. It doesn’t sound ordinary to me at all. It sounds like heart stopping, can’t catch your breath, amazing love.

  • http://teamaidan.wordpress.com/ Heather Bowie

    I so love reading these marriage posts. So much truth and beauty. Thank-you for sharing this.

  • http://www.lovewellblog.com/ Kelly @ Love Well

    This is exactly what I want my children to know: that the ordinary is the most extraordinary, that holy shows up most consistently in the mundane. The soil of everyday is where love’s roots grow. I couldn’t love this more.

  • http://whatwouldgwynethdo.com/ Raluca | WWGwynethDo

    So lovely. xx

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  • Terri

    Thank you, Sarah.

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  • Mjay19

    I lost the love of my love to sudden death almost four years ago. We were married almost 32 years. We had this. This love in the ordinary moments that you describe. We parented hard, we lived hard, we met our match forming a life together, growing and raising a family without much support or money. We worked hard in the battle of life and little and big kids. We finally had arrived at the empty nest, money in the checkbook and finding thst first love again in each other…and then he died. It makes me so sad. I feel so cheated. And yet, we unknowingly lived as if we knew life was short, but oh just one more day, one more hour, one more kiss, one more I love you. So hard. Miss him with my whole being.

  • Diana P.

    I really needed to read this. My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We married young and now have four children under five (and the youngest two are twins). I am in a season where I often miss what our relationship was and what we had in the life before…but this was such an important and timely reminder that what we have now is also precious and loving. Thank you!

  • Kristin Demery

    I love this. The ending is my favorite — and because I am also pregnant again and hormonal (and, well, there was full moon last night too, I’ll blame that as well), I totally cried while smiling in the midst of the coffee shop just now. Thanks for sharing your heart with us, even if I did have to surreptitiously wipe the tears. :)

  • http://storiesimeet.wordpress.com/ Katie Marchetti

    So beautiful – this is something to look forward to, the real, everyday, 2:07am kind of love. Thank you!

  • http://www.laughteriscatching.com/ Laura @ Laughter is Catching

    amazing. such a lovely post to read.

  • Morgan A.

    Absolutely beautiful. I had to read it three times and am already planning on sharing it with my husband later.

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  • Kateri

    Beautiful, Beautiful, true, and Beautiful! Thank you.

  • Hallie Sawyer

    Beautiful post, Sarah! It’s taken me a long time to learn to let the small moments mean as much as the big. They are really what makes life meaningful.

    By the way, I followed the link from Lindsey Mead’s blog and so happy I did. I look forward to reading more!

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  • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

    This is one of my favorite “series” to that you write. There is so much beauty in “ordinary” love.

  • pastordt

    Aw, so lovely. thanks, sweetheart for making my afternoon. It’s been a rough coupla days with my mama and it’s good to remember love.

  • http://celiackiddo.wordpress.com/ Dana Schwartz

    Oh this is so gorgeous and raw and true! I remember laughing at the coupon clipping couple, the ones who seemed old and dreary while my boyfriend and I were grabbing each other under the table. But 13 years later here we are, two kids, tired and yet still in love, but it doesn’t look the same…nor should it. Love this.

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  • tara

    that was beautiful.

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  • http://www.raising-humans.com/ Tricia at Raising Humans

    We have a similar breakdowns of middle of the night responsibilities. And yes, there is love there. Lovely piece.

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  • Teresa

    Beautifully written!

  • Jackie

    Beautiful words…you nailed it!

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