This is part of Michelle’s Bits of my Weekend Community. To check out more weekends visit her blog here.
On May 13th, 2002 Arnold and I got up bright and early in the morning and took the light rail to Portland’s downtown courthouse. We were the epitome of poor but happy as sat with morning commuters that bright Wednesday. That morning we promised to stay together until death do us part. I was 22 years old and didn’t have the good sense to be scared.
This is both my greatest strength and my fatal flaw: my total inability to not follow my heart.
Eight years later we’ve had some incredible ups and downs many of which I’ve shared on this blog. However this past year has been the most up/down of them all. It’s brought us the incredible frustration of filing the adoption paperwork and the unforgettable joy of celebrating the day we received Elian’s first picture. The unimaginable love and amazement we felt the day we met our baby boy and the heartbreak of watching him suffer through the separation from his foster family. These first months home as a family have been both better than our wildest dreams and more difficult than I could’ve ever imagined. Eight years ago sitting on that swaying train I never in a million years would’ve imagined where life would take us but I’m glad that I at least had the common sense to choose my husband well. Without Arnold I would surely not have made it through this last year. He has carried far more than his fair share of our trials and stitched up the pieces when I’ve frayed at the seams. He has forgiven a multiple of sins and encouraged me when I’ve been bereft of hope. He has proved his mettle time and again to love me in good times and bad and I’m so blessed to be his wife.
Oh man I have been waiting SO LONG to publish this video! I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share the awesomeness of this epic battle between my beloved son and my sweet husband. This video was taken at Martiza’s parents house our first week in Colombia with Elian. The whole week was equal parts overwhelming joy and nightmarish struggles. Because the adoption was not yet finalized I chose at that time to only write about the joyful moments but let’s get real, it wasn’t all fun. Elian refused to eat anything but yogurt for the whole week among other issues. Keep this in mind as you see my child battle with Arnold over his sovereign right to EAT ROCKS. That’s right we spent the whole week stressing about his eating only to watch him sneakily try to devour pebbles at the playground. We watched this video almost every night we were in Colombia and it still makes me laugh hysterically. ENJOY!
PS-I can’t believe how much bigger he is now. Crazy.
PPS – Thank you to everyone who shared their encouraging words and crazy parenting experiences yesterday. I truly appreciate your support!
Becoming a parent is stressful. I know that’s a duh, but it’s a transition that has broken up many a marriage and I think in the back of my mind I worried about how the stress would affect us. I know how lucky we are to have each other and at night I’d ask myself the question I was afraid to ask aloud in the daylight? Would growing our family break us apart?
Okay who I am kidding? Before we adopted Elian I used to grab Arnold and random intervals and demand “What are we doing? Is this a good idea? Are we going to hate each other after we do this?” There was pretty much nothing hidden about my fears. I had a similar type of panic attack right before we bought our house.
Despite my natural tenancy towards anxiety one thing I’ve never worried about is whether Arnold would be a good father. Anyone whose seen him fuss over Nutella can immediately see that he is “Bestfatherintheworld” material. I’ve always known he would be a wonderful father and now that I’ve seen him in action I can’t help but think not only are we the luckiest parents to have Elian but that Elian is the luckiest little boy to have Arnold.
One morning the first week Arnold single-handedly fed Elian breakfast (incidentally the third breakfast he made, since Elian rejected the first two) while keeping him away from the Christmas tree ornaments and distracting him so that he wouldn’t have a fit about not being allowed to touch the Christmas tree ornaments. It is no joke feeding a toddler without a high chair in someone else’s home. Trust.
The first day we broke out the stroller I asked Arnold if he needed help and he waved me off indignantly “I used to wheel my Tia all over Bogota” I’m a professional. And you know what? He totally is.
At night Arnold puts Elian to bed cooing in his ear and tucking him in snug as a bug as a rug. In the middle of the night he wakes me up saying “I think his blanket is on his head, do you think he is okay?” He plays with Elian spoiling him with kisses and has infinite patience with the hard parts of each day. When I spent 20 minutes flossing my teeth the first week because I couldn’t handle one more minute of tantrums Arnold sat on the floor with Elian as he kicked and screamed. He picked him up and held him tight as he cried hysterically for his beloved foster mother while I sat in the bathroom with my head in my hands and the cleanest teeth of my life.
Arnold is now and always has been a wonderful husband but he is an incredible father. We’ve been married for almost eight years and together for almost 10. After so much time together I didn’t think it was possible to love him more but now I know that I was wrong. Like most people I hate not being right but every time I see Elian in Arnold’s arms, I think that being wrong never felt better.
Remember how it was Arnold’s Birthday last Sunday? Usually his birthday kind of gets swallowed up in the post-holiday hangover but this year with Carmen as my wingman I decided we could do it up right!
It all started out pretty simple but then as more people got involved I decided it might be better if my organizational contribution might be to “take Arnold out to the movies” so the party could be prepped. I have to say this was a very smart move on my part. I avoided a lot of boring discussion about what beverages should be served with cake plus I got to go to the movies. Miraculously Arnold didn’t suspect a thing. When Carmen called and asked if he was at the door yet he turned to me and said “We better get back now, I think my Mom’s tired of being with the baby.” Then he detailed out an elaborate plan for the rest of our night which included taking Elian on a walk and taking Carmen to mass. Meanwhile I nodded in agreement as I plotted my dastardly surprise birthday plans “Muwahahahaha!’
I have to hand it to the Restrepo-Perez-Carrascal families. They really know how to surprise the right way! We opened up that door to a “Happy Birthday” chorus and a never-ending stream of people who poured out of Andres’ bedroom.
It was a great day, wish you all could have joined in the fun!
Elian took to his first flight like a seasoned road warrior, he perused the in-flight offerings, rejected them, looked out the window for 10 seconds and then fell asleep until we left baggage claim. There were many other children on the flight. All were screaming except ours! It was such a nice change. :)