We Fight Hard and Love Harder

When my husband and I first met, he was 19, I was 18, and we were young, dumb, and in love.

It was in the middle of Dec, in SE Portland, where the east wind coming off the Mountain was stronger and bone chilling at times.

And when I say we were young, dumb, and in love – I mean as in, we put up a very thin tent in the backyard, and slept under the stars. In the middle of December. On a particularly windy (but dry!) night.

And that was also the moment that the past, present, and future collided.

That was the moment my heart knew what it wanted

And we haven’t looked back. Not once.

Even though we bicker. Constantly.

We disagree. About a lot.

He has ADHD and has a horrible short-term memory. And I have our schedule planned out for weeks, temporarily forgetting that he needs more reminders than I subconsciously give.

Ok. So. By temporarily – I mean I am a work in progress.

We broke up. For a week.

We are not financially savvy. At all.

We both have different love languages.

AND parenting styles.

We came from two VERY different families and socioeconomic statuses

He is a mechanic and has to work with his hands. I am more creative and love to work with my brain.

Basically……we are two VERY different humans.

And yet, we love each other. Intensely.

We have been together 14.5 years (married 5), and we have had our fair share of really ugly fights, thoughts of divorce, feelings of being roommates.

We have experienced enough tension, depression, and anger that breaks people.

But through the thick and thin, when we fight hard, we love harder.

I credit that too a lot of things really. But there is one major event in our lives that stuck out.

And that was back when I was 22 and my husband only 24. We had a dog, a couple cats, a car, and low paying jobs. Oh and a 1 yr old (who is now our 10 year old).

I honestly don’t remember what time of the year it was. And I don’t remember who was on the other line. I don’t remember the time, if we were asleep, or if it was after a long crying session from B.

I remember being exhausted though. But that was an all day every day state of being.

And I remember hopping in the car immediately and rushing across town.

Did we have our child? I can’t remember now.

But what happened when we got to our destination, forever changed the path we were headed down.

When we heard the decision we had to make, I remember looking at each other. And we both immediately knew exactly what each other’s decision was going to be. Without saying a word.

And that was the moment that a 24yr old and a 22yr old with a 1yr old became guardians of a 16yr old, who was broken.

What transpired over the next 2 years nearly broke us. Shattered us in to a thousand pieces.

24yr olds and 22yr olds with a 1 yr old, should never have to become authority figures overnight to a teenager. Let alone, a teenager that came from the life experiences he had come from.

Or maybe that is just us.

We were not ready. We loved this boy. And tried our hardest to teach him the skills, and give him the experiences he missed out on, during the first 16 years of his life.

But we did not have the parental experience, nor the maturity, to be what he needed.

It was 2 years of pure hell. And we were alone. We knew who he was. Deep down. But we had zero guidance. And we were too much of novices to manage the outside unwanted/needed parental advice.

He turned 18. He left. But the destruction path, the pain, and guilt, anger and wounds, remained. For a long time afterwards.

But something amazing did come from that experience.

We learned. Alot. We grew. Alot. We matured. Alot.

But most importantly. We learned that we had each other’s back. Alot.

Because when my husband was made to choose – “your fiance, or your [birth] family” – he made a choice that is the foundation to our partnership.

He picked his family. His wife and his daughters. He stood by my side, fought for me, had my back.

But that meant that he sacrificed his family for ours. It drove a wedge that ripped seams 10 feet wide. Tensions were so high, tightrope walkers are only able to dream of ropes this tight.

And one of those was his brother.

He disappeared from our lives. For a few years, we didn’t know where he was, let alone if he was alive.

We knew who he was. His thoughts, his moods, his attitudes. At times we would worry that he was hurting. And at other times, we believed he was happy away from this mess that was left in his wake.

Over the years, my husband and I have had our trials and tribulations. We fight hard and love harder.

We have had to overcome ALOT. Especially as parents to 2 amazingly beautifully chaotic souls.

Over the years, we have learned that we will always make mistakes as parents. But what matters, is how we recover, and how we change, and adapt.

A year ago, my husband got a random – out of the blue – phone call. A call required a thoughtful decision that could potentially be another path changer.

He looked at me. I looked at him. And once again, without words, we knew exactly what decision the other was making. The only decision. The right decision.

My Brother-in-Law moved back in a year ago.

Suddenly. We had 24 hours to prepare

This was after we heard from him for the first time in years, only a couple days prior.

We had zero clue what to expect. or WHO to expect. We just knew that we had to put plans to move the girls in to their own rooms – on hold.

But nobody knew for how long.

I was worried about the potentials of if “history repeats itself”. Especially having two kids in the house that are little sponges, with their own needs, going thru their own pain.

But what I quickly found out, was that the brother-in-law we knew, the brother that my husband knew, the uncle our daughters knew – was not the man standing in front of us that late February (or was it March?) night.

No. The man standing in front of us finally learned those lessons he should have learned before we became his guardians.

The man standing in front of us finally learned how to handle life with a little bit more grace and patience and love.

The man standing in front of us, acknowledged and took responsibility for his actions when he was under our roof.

And us wiser parents, acknowledged and took responsibility for our actions when he was under our roof.

This past year has been insane for quite a few reasons.

But one of the reasons, is because the broken 18 yr old teen we watched storm away, returned as a 24yr old man that was ready to live.

And what we are experiencing right now, being able to rely on him, and trust him, to watch our girls every day, to watch him take on more and more responsibility without anger – is nothing short of a miracle.

And proof that when we fight hard, we love harder.

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