Last year, I was cast as an inaugural member of the Listen To Your Mother show in Northwest Arkansas. I had been following the progression of the show since Ann Imig (mother of LTYM) had her first show a few years before. The year before last, the show expanded to Chicago and Austin. I contemplated the ten hour drive to Austin and decided that it really wasn't feasible ... but I contemplated it nonetheless. I really wanted to be in the show.
Then Northwest Arkansas got a show last year and I knew the three-hour drive was totally doable. I auditioned, was cast, and became sold on the value of the show.
So much so that this year, I co-produced the OKC show with my friend and fellow cast mate Misti Pryor. In the midst of our planning the OKC show, Brian said to me, "I think I'll try out for the show." I told him fine, but if he tried out for OKC, I wouldn't read in it. Then I promptly went back to sleeping on the couch. The next morning, he said he had written something and would submit to NWA--our home away from home. I nodded, kissed him and asked him to let me sleep about ten more minutes.
A month later, we drove to Fayetteville for auditions.
And last night, I sat in the audience as Brian read his piece in the second NWA show. It was surreal on very many levels: I wasn't reading; I wasn't producing; I was sitting in the audience enjoying the beauty that comes with each person's story. (I started to say each woman's story ... )
Brian read third in the show. His piece (and by that I mean his written piece, y'all) was tender and touching and even garnered him a marriage proposal after the show. I told him I was open to bringing the lady into our home if she took on all the laundry duties all the time.
Last night when we got back to the hotel after the hideout under and behind the theater because of the tornados (that's another blog for another day), he said I could post his piece on Minivan Momma. This man? He knows how to make me happy.
That was then
On our first date, she wore a denim miniskirt, a green shirt, and flip flops. She was bright red from a sunburn she had just obtained while swimming all weekend long. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she had on pink eye shadow. As I reached for her hand in the movie theater, she grabbed mine. I’m pretty sure her sole motive was to keep me from accidentally touching her sunburn, However, later that night we sat up till the wee hours of the morning on her couch. We talked politics, the weather, our favorite movies and our jobs as teachers. On her porch I kissed her lips with a quick peck before dancing my way back to the truck. She looked pretty, really, really pretty.
I knew very quickly she was the one. The night I proposed, she had on a black sweater, jeans and a khaki coat. The coat was mine. I had arranged to have a horse-drawn carriage take us through her favorite display of Christmas lights. Her hair was down and parted on the side. She had to take off the red glove so that I could slip the diamond ring onto her left hand. She grabbed my face and kissed me before saying yes. With the Christmas lights dancing in her eyes, she looked beyond magical.
Being newlyweds was awesome, if you know what I mean. After three years of marital bliss, though, we were ready to be parents. On a cold day in November I came home and found her curled up on the couch, sobbing. A call from our doctor had confirmed that we were still not pregnant. The medicines didn’t seem to be working. Her body just wasn’t cooperating. We would have to try something different. We’d have to explore different avenues. She was wearing a pink sweatshirt and flannel pajama bottoms. Her hair was pulled up in a bun and she had snot smeared across her face and mascara running down her cheeks. She looked sad and broken.
Two years later, I nervously drove her to the hospital where she donned a baby blue patterned hospital gown and assumed the position. The nurses hooked her to all kinds monitors so we could watch the baby’s heartbeat and take note of her contractions, as if her grunts and screams weren’t enough to let them know when the contractions came. Then at 3:04 pm, she fall back into her bed, exhausted, She was sweating and shaking and had just delivered a beautiful, healthy 9lb 8oz baby girl. Both mother and daughter looked beautiful and perfect … amazingly perfect.
That was then. This is now. Motherhood has transformed her.
Now, when she comes to bed, she usually has on one of my t-shirts and yoga pants and smells a little like macaroni and cheese. She’s probably just spent at least a half hour arguing with our daughters about brushing their teeth, wearing clean pajamas and pleading with the younger one to stay in bed her all night long. Gone are the days of silky, lacy, pretty things. But, she still looks pretty, really, really pretty.
Now, I often drive up to the house after work and find her chasing two dogs and two daughters down the street wearing sweatpants, a jacket and no shoes. The whole time she’s yelllin instructions on how to keep the dogs from gettin out. These instructions will be ignored by our daughters and repeated by my wife regularly. Even through her exasperation she looks magical. A little crazy, but still magical.
Now, she races out the door with two kids in tow, a school bag over her arm and lunch burrito in a baggie. I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know how she keeps all of us (me included) in order. I don’t know what keeps her going, but she’s still going and she looks smart and super strong,if not slightly stressed, but she handles it with ease. Is there a big red “S” on her chest. Could that be a hint of a red cape peeking out from under that skirt?
Even now, as I write this, I glance at my beautiful wife, the mother of our two amazing daughters, lying on the couch, her glasses pushed up on her head, her pajama top misbuttoned, her feet covered in striped tube socks that predate our time together and there’s drool dripping onto the throw pillow that she once took two days to pick out and now has ketchup stains on it, And she’s beautiful and perfect. Amazingly perfect.
Motherhood agrees with her and I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll continue to be more and more amazing as time goes on.