Jay and I officially met in high school, but our lives crossed paths many times before then. We were born 8 days apart in the same hospital. We both grew up in the same town, but he went to the town's public school and I went to the Catholic school. Our families both belonged to the same parish, so we made our First Communions and Confirmations together. In fact, we were both chosen to read at our Confirmation...which is kind of a funny coincidence.
In high school, we sat next to each other in English class since both our last names started with "H". Jay was rather quiet...and me, well, not so much! I teased him a lot!
We both ended up being members of the swim team at our high school and at the local Y. Jay also ended up being best friends with one of my best guy friends from elementary school. We spent a lot of time together and dated through most of high school starting the summer before sophomore year.(With only two brief "intermissions", we were together that whole time.)
We ended up getting married sooner than we thought we would. Although those first few years were a little crazy between college, 3 babies, and grad school for Jay, we grew and changed along the way....then had a few more babies and grew and changed along the way...then had a couple more babies and are continuing to grow and change. We blinked, and somehow 20 year went by!
In honor of our anniversary, I'd like to dedicate this special post to my husband.....
My Top Twenty for our Twentieth!
#20: Jay works incredibly hard for our family.
Even though being a husband and father began sooner than expected, Jay has always worked incredibly hard to take care of us. When he was in college, he was incredibly focused knowing that his grades and ability to get into grad school meant everything if he was going to be able to provide for his family. He had his sights set on being a physical therapist, which was an incredibly difficult program to get in to. Jay worked so hard that he got into all three programs that he applied to! Then he spent two and a half years commuting to Boston and working his butt off in order to finish his degree. All his spare time was spent with me and our three little boys. He graduated into a field that had just been decimated by Medicare changes, but, God provided. Jay received a full time job offer the day after I found out I was pregnant with Sarah! And he still works incredibly hard with both a full time and a per diem job to take care of all of us!
#19: Jay is incredibly faithful.
Jay has always remained right by my side during all the highs and lows of the last 20 years. I don't have any specific statistics, but my guess is that we are in the minority of marriages that survived getting married and having a child(and then children) so young, going through the tragedy of losing a child, and then having a child diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. There were also a couple of years that I suffered through pretty severe depression...and Jay not only did his part, but also picked up most of mine! We carried quite a few crosses over these 20 years...through God's grace, we've always made it through together.
#18: Jay is incredibly faith-filled.
Jay's faith has always been so much stronger than my own. I'm embarrassed about it now, but when we were first married, I would often tease him about his prayer life. Thankfully, God clunked me over the head before too long, so faith has been another walk that we have done together over (most of) these 20 years!
#17: Jay is an incredible father.
Jay is a great father...and a great daddy! He loves each of his children immensely. He has spent countless hours over the years playing on the floor with little ones, playing pretend with toddlers, playing games with school age children, coaching, teaching them sports, working on projects, rearranging his work schedule to go to all the teenagers' home games and many of their away games, dropping everything when kids or teens need to talk, etc., etc. He is a true 'daddy' and his relationships with each of his kids reflects that...even during the messy teen moments that occur occasionally!
#16: Jay is incredibly patient.
Jay is so much more patient when it comes to the kids...or even just life in general. That's not to say that he never loses his temper...but it doesn't happen very often.
#15: Jay does the dishes.
#14: Jay cleans the bathroom.
When we got married, there were two things that were very important to me. First, that we would eat dinner together as a family almost every night. And second, that Jay would clean the toilet. I grew up in a home where my dad cleaned the toilets. For whatever reasons, cleaning toilets really gross me out.(But I have cleaned them occasionally) And, to be truthful, the boys spend way more time using the toilet than the girls. Plus, boys don't always have good aim...so it seems only fair that they clean it. But I appreciate it!
#13: Jay has a great hobby.
Jay has a great hobby that he doesn't get to do nearly as often as he would like to. Jay does woodworking. He uses his math skills that he inherits from his dad to re-create pieces of furniture that I find(but can't afford) and then makes them for a fraction of the cost(and out of better wood!). So far, Jay has made 2 bunk beds, a bureau, a sideboard, a kitchen table, an island, a bookshelf, small cabinets, large(massive) cabinets, our bathroom vanity, and is currently planning our new kitchen. The new kitchen will probably be a 5 year plan, but it's exciting nonetheless!
#12: Jay lets me indulge in my love for shopping without complaint.
Occasionally he may raise an eyebrow, but he is very generous when it comes to getting things for the kids...and for me. I really try to stay out of stores because it usually doesn't end well. I have gotten better at only getting what everyone needs. (Except maybe when I shop for Kate at Gymboree! But I've been doing better with that...well, mostly!) Yesterday we walked around at some outlet stores on the way home, and I stopped when the money was out! I got a few tops for me and then we went into the Stride Rite Outlet store. Kate needed a pair of 'first walker' shoes. I found a cute little pair that Kate grabbed immediately and got all excited over. Jay doesn't think that bodes well for the future. He even indulged my find of a pair of super cute boots for Kate. (It was buy one, get one 50% off after all!)
#11: Jay is willing to watch sappy chick flicks just to make me happy.
Jay's favorite movies are filled with action and danger. Not me. I am a happy ending with everyone's body parts intact kind of gal. I have a lot of natural fear and anxiety so stressful movies give me nightmares! While we don't really get a chance to watch that many movies together, they are often of the romantic comedy kind. What is Jay's most heroic sacrifice re: movies over these 20 years? When I was very pregnant with Peter, and struggling with depression, Jay went out and bought the 6 episode BBC film Pride and Prejudice...plus Sense and Sensibility and Emma.(And watched them with me multiple times!)
#'s 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, & 2:
I hope that no one considers this cheating, but our children are definitely the greatest fruit of our marriage. While both of us always said we wanted a big family, sometimes we are truly shocked that God has entrusted us with all of these blessings. Our sons, and all of our daughters, have shaped us in ways only children can!
(The group pics of the girls and boys were taken by Deanna DiMarzio of DiMarzio Photography. She has done a fabulous job of capturing our family over the past couple of years!)
Drum roll, please....................
#1: I am truly married to my best friend.
I can't imagine my life without him. He (truly) completes me.
Happy Anniversary, Jay! I'm glad we are on this crazy ride called life together! I wouldn't want it any other way!