Our story continued……
Our first week of marriage had some rough spots. So, if you’re under the impression that we’ve somehow just sailed through the past 23 years, I’m sorry to disappoint you and tell you that we’ve had our share of struggles.
Obviously our honeymoon couldn’t last a full week because of Christmas coming. We headed to Murrels Inlet on December 17 and returned on December 21.
Since we had closed on the house the 7th of December, we were all set up and ready to move in. We picked the boys up from my parents and went to our new home.
We didn’t have a Christmas tree and I wanted to put on in the picture window. I asked Terry if he and the boys would go find us a tree. In the meantime, I could finish unpacking those few remaining boxes and get the lights and ornaments ready for the tree
When they arrived back with the tree, I was disappointed, to say the least. The tree poorly misshapen, dry as a bone, needles falling with each move. Terry assured me that was the best they had to pick from. It reminded me of the Charlie Brown tree, only larger and a little more full.
Once we got the tree set in the stand, we realized the trunk wasn’t exactly straight. It had a slight curve which caused it to be cattywampus! A clearly defined lean-to the right. (If I ever find a picture, I’ll share it). We straightened it with the base as much as we could.
Finally, the tree was ready for lights and decorations. Now, I have a thing for blown glass tree ornaments and had purchased a ton of these before Ryan was born. Since the boys were both small and wanted to help, I knew better than to let them hang the ornaments. I hung them around the middle and top and let them hang the non-breakables around the bottom, where their little hands could reach.
Once decorated, the once frail looking tree, had life. Our first tree! We were all proud of it. The only foreseeable issue was the lean-to and the distinct possibility the tree could topple.
We had thoroughly enjoyed our first full day as a family of four. Then came the first night.
Considering that the boys and I lived with my parents and Matthew didn’t sleep through the night. He was accustomed to getting out of bed and crawling in the bed with me. If I wasn’t home, he crept downstairs and got in bed with Mom and Ned. Terry was well aware of this and had already told me that Matthew was not sleeping with us.
“He’s 3 years old and old enough to be sleeping by himself Besides, he’s in a bad habit of not sleeping through the night becasuse you and your parents have allowed him to get in bed with you. I’m not sharing my bed with a 3 year old. I’m sharing my bed with you.”
We tucked the boys in They shared a room because that’s what they were accustomed to, even at Mom’s. They went to sleep right away. Terry and I went to bed. He locked our bedroom door to keep Matthew from coming in. We had nightlights all over the house, thanks to Mamaw. Like clockwork, around 2:00 AM, Matthew gets out of the bed. Our house was small and I could hear the pitter-patter of little feet, not to mention, we had some creaky floors. He came to the door and turned the knob. It was locked. He knocked gently on the door.
Terry said, “Matthew, go back to bed.”
At this point, he started to cry and knocked louder. Terry kept reassuring him he would be fine and needed to go back to bed. I was crying too. It was breaking my heart to hear him cry but I knew I had to break the cycle. It’s just hard and especially when Matthew was my baby, at the time.
After a few minutes the crying ceased, I drifted back to sleep. The next morning we were up early. Upon opening the door, we found Matthew curled up outside our bedroom door with a blanket.
The next night, the same thing, only there was less crying and Matthew did go back to his room The third night, he came and only a gentle knock at the door. No crying. He went straight back to his bedroom. That was the last night he got up in the middle of the night. From that point on, he slept straight through the night, at least when he was home.
I remeber telling Terry I felt like he was ripping my heart and Matthew’s heart in pieces. Truth is, he was. It needed to happen. We just weren’t ready, at first. It was traumatic for all of us. Terry didn’t want to hurt either one of us. He just knew what was best. I hade to learn to trust that about him and so did Matthew.
We had a wonderful first Christmas and our tree was still hanging on, by a thread. We planned to take it down on Decebmer 28. It didn’t quite make it.
The boys were rough-housing, typical boy stuff you know? They can’t help themselves. They dashed through the dining room into the living room and somehow Matthew’s hefty little self hit the tree. Still, to this day, have no clue how it happened. It just did and suddenly, like the great mulitude of angels singing, there was a great mulitude of cracking and breaking of glass. Remember, I had all those lovely blown-glass ornaments around the middle and top section of the tree. The thud. The crash. The breaking of glass. I knew what happened and in a fit of rage, I screamed at both of the boys. Sent them to their rooms and started crying over those shards of broken glass.
I didn’t think one time about the fact that neither one of them had been injured or cut by the glass. At that moment, all I could think about was my lovely, beautiful ornmanets destroyed.
I was so angry that I made Terry angry. He didnt yell and scream at the boys but he did give them a good talking to.
Then he and Matthew both tried to console me. Matthew said, ‘Momma, I’m sorry. We can get you some new ones.”
I didn’t want new ones. I didn’t want to be consoled. I just wanted to be angry.
A little while later, after I finally calmed down, Terry came to talk to me. He let me know very quickly that I had behaved like a child. Sadly, I knew he was right. He also reminded me that the cattywampus tree was probably destined to fall anyway. He also reminded me that those boys were little. They were going to play rough. Things were going to get broken.
After this incident, I would love to tell you I never had a childish outburst again, but that would be a lie. What did happen after this particular outburst was my attitude towards things of value began changing. I began to see the importance of lives over things. I began to see that the hearts and lives of my children were far greater than any blown-glass Christmas ornament on my tree. I slowly began to change my perspective.
The other valuable lesson through our first days together was learning that Terry and I had to communicate. We had to talk about our feelings about things and we had to work them out. We didn’t always have to approve of eachothers behaviors or attidudes but we did have to learn to effectively communicate. If we were going to make this marriage thing work, we had to talk but more importantly, we had to learn to put God at the center of everything. It was a choice that we had to make then and one we are still making today.