It's Valentine's Day, and I'm thinking of you guys. I'm thinking of love notes stuck in my lunch boxes and carnations delivered to my desk in eighth grade and heart shaped chocolates on the kitchen counter every year through high school. I'm thinking of letters in the mail when I was away at college, telling me I was smart and brave and that you were proud of me. I'm thankful for you both today.
Mom, I watched you raise one girl and four boys; five hearts that needed tending and mending, and you did it over twenty six years and counting. Over four moves and too many states to count when you add it all up, I watched you pour out unconditional love for all of us crazy kids. You made lesson plans and tied shoes and wiped runny noses and you did it all because you loved us. Your love and sacrifice is the glue that holds us together through the bad choices and the mistakes and the happy tears and the long drives home at Christmas and the uncertainty about where we will all even be when December rolls back around.
Dad, I watched you get up early and put on a suit and tie and sometimes a hard hat and earplugs. I watched you go to a plant and manage others and take on stress and bring home a steady paycheck every month for all my life. I saw you sign up to coach basketball and soccer and too many YMCA teams to even think about, and you showed up even on days when it would have been easier to sit home on the couch. And when we got too old or started sports you hadn't played, I watched you stand at the fence, sit in the bleachers, and stand and applaud whether we won or lost. I see you drive home on weekends and fix the sink or the shower or whatever seems to be falling apart, and I know four young men who forever will want to be like you. And I know one girl who is grateful for a dad who showed her love and then walked her down the aisle in front of God and everybody.
I want you to know that we noticed. We noticed the sacrifices you both made. That you made your own drinks before date night because you had to come home and pay the babysitter what you could have spent on a fancier restaurant. That you had to make hard choices and fill moving boxes and leave friends behind time after time. We also noticed that you woke up early to spend time with Jesus and make breakfast and search for lost book bags and soccer cleats. We noticed that you have to spend weeks apart and see each other only on the weekends and that you've been doing hard stuff for too many years.
We noticed, and we are thankful.
Because even when things got messy and downright hard, you loved us and you loved each other. We are thankful that the words you said to each other 10,472 days ago are still the words that hold us as a family with two parents, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.
Happy Valentine's Day Mom and Dad.
We sure love you.
All your crazy kids