“Does your wife work?” In business settings, that’s typically the first question asked of me after someone learns we have five children. Not many families have five kids, so I can respect their curiosity.
I used to answer that question this way – “No, she stays home with our kids.” Like it was some sort of a fall back plan. Or worse, something not viewed as a real job.
How far from the truth could that be?
I now answer that question with – “Yes, she works much harder than I do. She’s a full-time mom.”
I’m amazed at the sacrifices Brooke has made to be home with our kids. She turned 35 today, and I wanted to carve out a corner of the internet for her this week.
There aren’t enough words to capture the many ways she has served our family these past 11 years since Kamden was born, but I’ll start with these 11.
- Grace – This isn’t a word used in everyday parenting circles, but it should be. Brooke exhibits grace when our kids fight, misbehave, tell lies, and make excuses. Grace propels our children and reminds them that we are pursuing their hearts, not simply better behavior.
- Grit – For as much as we have gone through over the years, the easier route would have been to quit. But Brooke chose to stay. Even when it was hard and ugly. Like the time when she had two consecutive miscarriages. And the time when we went through really hard financial years. There will certainly be hard and ugly days ahead too. She hung in and kept putting one foot in front of the other. It didn’t always look pretty but it was progress.
- Love – Brooke is quick to remind me that love always wins. She doesn’t withhold love from our family or use it as leverage over us. She has freely given this precious gift. It hasn’t always looked like rose petals and red wine. It’s been much better than that. A choice. An act. A decision.
- Order – Chaos is an ever-present reality of a big family. Kids fighting or screaming about something. Running late to activities. Birthday parties to juggle. Date nights to squeeze in somewhere. Carpools to coordinate. Sick kids to get to the doctor. A dirty home to clean. Laundry piled everywhere. Holding down the fort if I’m traveling for work. It quite literally is an endless list of chaos. A total cluster if untended. But Brooke has a beautiful gift of bringing order out of chaos. Calm out of a train wreck.
- Fire – Some might call it passion, but within Brooke is a burning fire. She isn’t quiet and shy. Rather, she is bold and heard. She is teaching our girls how to be strong yet beautiful, confident yet tender. I see this in the way she handles conflicts with family and friends. It’s not fun, but she leans into it and deals with the mess. She doesn’t run away and hide. She embraces life and lives it fully.
- Respect – I’ve failed Brooke and the kids a million ways. And I’ll fail a million more. But she has believed in me, supported me, stood by me and respected me. Like a good coach, she pushed me, not simply for the things she’ll get from it, but because she knows I can still grow. She’s done the same for our kids. Respected them enough to train them, discipline them and coach them.
- Laughter – She and I both have great friends thankfully. But only one best friend: each other. Whether it’s her scaring me senseless by hiding behind curtains when I come down the stairs at midnight or watching a lame Matthew Mcconaughey movie, her laugh is contagious and has the power to undo me. Our kids think she’s the funniest person on earth. Like the time she taught all of them to “Wobble” or when she sprayed their mouths full of whip cream when they were expecting a discipline. Laughter is good medicine, and she has been a source of that for years.
- Joy – Different than laughter, joy doesn’t always mean happy. In fact, some of the most joyful times I remember about her have been times our family was going through really hard times. Joy points to a reminder that life is bigger than our small story but still remembering that our story matters. Joy is a strong anchor in the fiercest storm. It’s an unspeakable and unshakeable confidence to keep pursuing meaning. To reclaim meaning in the things that matter most.
- Patience – Mom? Momma? Hey mom? MOM? Will you do this? Did you see that? Can you help with this? Managing the demands of five children within eight years of each other is enough to make most people lose it. And sure she has lost her cool a number of times, but by and large she has filled our home with peace because of the patience she has displayed. Helping kids with homework. Getting a meal cooked. Changing sheets of a kid that peed the bed again at 4am. Mundane but meaningful.
- Service – It’s common to come home and hear of another meal Brooke is making for a family that had a baby or lost a job. Or I learn of a commitment she’s made to help a friend nail down a plan to help her baby sleep through the night. Brooke is setting the pace and teaching me that life is best lived when we give it away. When we take initiative for the benefit of others. When we serve.
- Forgiveness – This used to be a tough pill for Brooke to swallow. Because of her strength, determination, and perfectionist tendencies, it was hard to admit a mistake. That she blew it. But she has and will again on many occasions. But over the years, she has softened and has been quick to ask for forgiveness. Not a lame apology or a simple ‘I’m sorry’, but a sincere plea for forgiveness when she has wronged us. A beautiful picture of making things right that were once broken.
“Does your wife work?” Yep, she works a hell of a lot.
Happy Birthday my love. These are the best days.