Have you ever seen a couple and thought, well they look made for each other? They look like they just “fit.”
Yeah, we ain’t that couple.
In fact, early on and even now, some of Jeff’s friends have been vocal about how mismatched we seem/are. A lot of them just never pictured him marrying a yankee, a Catholic, a younger woman, a brunette, or, you know, whatever.
I can easily explain that by saying I don’t fit in well anywhere, which is the truth. God made me a little different, and after many years of fighting it, I know it’s how I’m supposed to be. I was a writer and dancer born into a family of athletes. I was the only girl with a bunch of boys. Even in my own family, I was a little different. Not black sheep or anything, but just not like everyone else. They all kind of fit together and I sort of stood out.
I honestly spent most of my life before meeting Jeff pretty much convinced I would never get married because I was just always the girl no one was interested in. Romantically or otherwise. People knew I was there and that was about it. I made attempts at a social life that I hoped would bring me a relationship and possibly a marriage. I joined groups in high school and a sorority in college and even spent a lot of time early on at the Newman Center (I operated on a popular myth of my youth that all young Catholic women seeking marriage would find said man at the Newman Center). But nothing. Connections just did not happen.
I met Jeff because of a wrong number phone call. (He called me.) I guess, like everything else in life, God had a very different plan for me. It was a plan that involved meeting someone in a place and way I could never have predicted.
Eleven years into marriage, eight years into parenthood. We don’t look like most other couples. Physically and otherwise. Jeff made a career change at the same time I got pregnant with Shelby. So, he’s here a teacher, I’m working in a grocery store as a cashier. I remember when I got that ridiculous corporate America job and thought I was moving up and so much better off than I would have been working retail or service industry. And yet, this is by far the best job I’ve ever had. We haven’t done much of what we set out to when we got married, but what we have done has been better than what we planned.
A lot of my friends tell me they admire our marriage and relationship to which I think, “why?” I mean, we have exactly zero date nights. Not even the “put-the-kids-to-bed-and-watch-a-grown-up-movie-while-eating-popcorn-in-the-living-room” ones. Because we don’t just have kids. We have our kids. The ones who are every bit as stubborn as both of their parents combined with some extra thrown in because they are their own people and if they are going to stay up and interrupt well, they just are. Oh, and how dare you have popcorn when we are clearly in the house! And yes, Shelby is a big part of that equation but there are other reasons too.
Like, in our cases, being Jeff and Kristen and husband and wife and mama and daddy have become so intermixed I can’t find where one ends and the other begins. I can now hear mothers across the land screaming and slamming lap top covers shut and thinking, “NO! THIS IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER!” And for a lot of people, it probably is, but for us it’s not. It’s where God led us and where we’re happy.
And we just drafted a non-retirement-retirement plan that involves us both still working full time and living in a trailer near the beach with Shelby. Because we can’t imagine the future any different than that at this point. And we’re okay with it. (And if you’re wondering about the trailer, it will be more of a small house that is mobile while not looking so and give us the freedom to travel and leave it to go overseas with the girl. The living off the grid part is totally optional.)
I was perusing blogs this morning and found a pic of a blogger, her husband and baby and thought, “yeah, they totally fit.” And then I thought about my mismatch-match and realized, it doesn’t matter if it’s obvious to the rest of the world because it’s completely obvious to God. This man, this marriage, this life, this home, these children–they are all part of His plan and if the “world” at large can’t see that, well, maybe that means I’m doing it right. For once. I fit where it doesn’t look “right” and that’s okay.