Little Stories of Big Love
Tolstoy claims, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," but we beg to differ. We sought out stories about how we find love at home–those moments big and small that remind us who we love.
- Interview By
- Katie Covington
- Axelle Rose Zwartjes
Love In the Woodshed
Before I had children, I said I would not use pacifiers. I would not let my kids watch TV, I would keep the dishes done and the laundry caught up. Still, you know what? Esther, my third baby, is sucking on a pacifier right now. Sonny, my oldest, is watching Scooby-Doo (his absolute favorite), there is a giant pile of laundry and dishes, and I am happier than I’ve ever been.
Last night Kyle, the father of my babies, asked me to marry him. He kept asking me to go out to the woodshed with him all afternoon and get some wood. I kept avoiding his request vehemently, finally though he told me he had some Champagne out there and we needed to go and get it. I was like, “fine, whatever.”
While we were walking out there, I thought, “I’m so happy right here.” We got the Champagne, and then suddenly he got down on one knee and pulled out a diamond.
I was shocked, completely surprised, truly bowled over, and weeping. He said something romantic about choosing the woodshed “cause you have to work real hard to keep your woodshed full, but when you do, your house is always warm.”
We tell each other, all the time, that we want to spend our lives together. Still, the idea that he got a diamond ring for me and wants to marry me even with the dirty house, and the stinky armpits, and the snotty children, looking at my phone when I should be looking at him, and stress, and all of it, I suppose I feel very loved, as I am, in the thick of it all. Even as I fall short, disappoint myself, fail to complete any of my lists, someone who sees it all wants to marry me, just as I am. One for the books. - Leah Spicer
Love That’s Worth the Wait
After five years of waiting, hoping, praying, grieving, and doing all the practical things to become parents, Bennett arrived during a whirlwind 24 hours last summer.
Bennett completely changed my life when he made me a mother. He has forced me to really lean in to love and to embrace joy even when it feels scary. After so much grief and loss, in the midst of new parent exhaustion, I often found myself anxiety-ridden. Could this really be true? Could our journey to parenthood really have a happy ending? Could I accept this amazing gift without fear? Add that anxiety to the normal new parent worries, is he breathing? Will I hear him when he cries and I’ve just fallen asleep for the first time in 48 hours? Are we feeding him too much or too little? Plus the added stress and complications that come with adoption, I damn near lost my mind until I decided to simply accept it all. The uncertainty, the worry, the insecurity, and most importantly, the joy.
Those of us who’ve experienced grief, especially repeat losses, often wait for the proverbial other shoe to drop, and with Bennett, I realized I needed to make a choice. I could either spend the rest of my life waiting for the bad things that inevitably arise, or I could joyfully accept this amazing blessing and just love my kid. Bennett is my reminder to embrace the happy endings when they arrive. To boldly seize joy no matter what else you’ve experienced because we are only able to live with loss when we find a way to fearlessly commit to joy. - Marisa Renee Lee
A Long Distance Love
My mom was a preschool teacher, and she has a song for everything–the days of the week, going to school, going to bed–they're all simple little earworms. But, as someone who woke up to "Today is Monday all day long" for much of my teen years, I didn't always appreciate this talent.
Recently, she was Facetiming with my toddler when he started to get sleepy, and she burst into song, "Night-night Papa, night-night Nana. It's time to say goodnight." My music-loving son was hooked. I never quite knew if he understood that they're his people, singing just to him through the screen, unlike Raffi or the actors on Sesame Street. Now I know. When I close the door to his room at bedtime, I hear him sing quietly to himself,"'Night-night Papa," as he curls up with his blanket, diaper in the air.
The Sweetest Love
To celebrate my kids' great-grandparents, we started sharing stories about them over their favorite foods. So in February, we'll have Irish Soda Bread and talk about my great grandfather, and in Spring, we have pie to celebrate Nana Jean's birthday. After that, it's brisket and pickles for Great Grandpa Levi and ice cream for my husband's Grandma Helen. We keep it loose, and we've forgotten some years, but it's a way to tell stories about where they came from and bring to life the people we've loved and how they lived.
I was the baby of the family for ten years and 363 days until my niece came into the world on April 20th, 2004. I'd panicked for weeks that she would steal my birthday so imagine my relief when she arrived two days prior. I didn't know that babies are released from the hospital two days later. So imagine the horror when my birthday morning was filled with both happy birthday balloons and welcome baby girl balloons. I thought my birthday celebration was canceled and gave my parents all the attitude my preteen self could muster until my mother announced it was time to leave for my party.
Happy that my day would still be about me, I relished in all the attention being on me again. Leaving the restaurant, my parents let me know my gifts were at home. I was greeted with 6lbs 4 oz of sleeping perfection. I'm sure I received other gifts that day; the only one I remember is my baby bestie. This year she'll be 18, but she'll always be my favorite birthday gift. -Lee Freeman
Axelle Rose Zwartjes
Axelle Rose Zwartjes is a Belgian illustrator. Her distinctive style is informed by fashion and by women who love to have fun with it. Feminine and playful, her work portrays laid-back, rad girls who stand out for their sassy styles and whimsy. Never one to take herself too seriously and a self-proclaimed late bloomer, Axelle is a keen observer of modern day girls and other cute random stuff. Her client list include: The Style Club, Refinery29, Youths, Lou&Grey, Blos Shop, Johnybegood, Noble Carriage, Youths, Mode Unie and Bossy Magazine.