Anniversaries are great moments to see where we’ve come from and where we’re headed, in addition to enjoying special treats. Eddy and I had the opportunity to do all of that two days ago, as we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. I began making a peanut butter – chocolate cake in honor of the occasion a couple days in advance. Layers of chocolate cake filled with chocolate cream and homemade peanut butter cups, and topped with creamy peanut butter frosting and drizzles of chocolate. We spent our anniversary evening enjoying our cake and ice cream, looking back over our wedding pictures, remembering our engagement period and talking about these past two years together. It barely seems like two years can have gone by since the day we drove to the private chapel at Our Lady of Harissa, the national Marian Shrine of Lebanon, for our wedding. At the same time, it seems like it’s been much longer – life before our marriage seems like a distant blur.
The past two years have been adventuresome and fulfilling. We’ve moved around within the Middle East a couple of times, under various sets of circumstances, most recently arriving here in Northern Iraq to help the Church establish schools in the region. We have a delightful one year old boy and a second son ready to pop out any day. Without knowing where the future will lead us, we already feel very blessed with the beautiful life God has already given us.
I am grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful family, and for leading me to the life I want to live, as a wife, as a mother and as an individual. I am still new in these roles, and have much left to learn. I have realized that many of the attributes of being a spouse and mother that I had thought were instinctive take work and effort. Being selfless in order to always care for your husband and children does come naturally to a certain extent, but can require a lot of sacrifice and effort when it conflicts with other instincts like self-preservation – aka, selfishness. As I look back and see my own mother’s example over the years as both wife and parent, I now realize how much love, selflessness and sacrifice went in to things she did every day that we took for granted – from always serving herself last or not having a piece of dessert to make sure there was enough for the rest of us, to getting up in the middle of the night when we were sick or scared, to always having time to talk or canceling her own plans and activities to do things we were interested in, or let Dad sleep in… After all, she was “Mom,” and moms just do those things… She was married, and spouses just do those things. Now, as a wife and mother myself, I realize that it isn’t that simple. Wives and mothers do have hearts full of love, but they have to work hard to form the little habits that show their loved ones how much they mean to them. The same is true for husbands and fathers. We become spouses in a moment, through the sacrament of marriage. We become parents in an instant, with the conception and then birth of our first child… But it takes years – even a lifetime – of love and practice, patience, successes and failures, to fully become the spouses and parents we want to be. Eddy and I have had a wonderful experience of love and growth in the path we have embarked upon together during these first two years, and look forward to continuing it in the years ahead.