My mom always says that God blesses us, in that, when one person is down-and-out, the other person in the marriage can pick them back up again. Then, you switch roles. One person always has to be up to bat.
It was 2 am in the morning and I didn't have my contacts in. I was searching feverishly for a lost pacifier. The holy grail of sleeping. I literally couldn't see 2 inches in front of my face without glasses, so I was fumbling all over Zoe's crib.  Zoe, meanwhile, was screaming at the top of her petite little lungs.
I didn't like her very much in this moment.
Chris appeared in the doorway, groggy, pink pacifier in hand to save the day.

This happens several days a week. I rely on Chris for...everything.

When I was considering this, I had one of those deja vu moments where I realized how awesome my parents were. I know. You probably have these too. They only occur after the age of 21. This is because, before this age, you have no idea how awesome your parents are. It is a vague, fuzzy notion in your mind that slowly dawns on you. One day you wake up (perhaps the day after you give birth) and think "Who are these people? Why didn't I kiss their beloved feet every single day?"

Slowly, you are filled with overwhelming guilt. Especially if you were a particularly "difficult" child. (Believe me. You know if you are this kid. You made your parent's lives 2x more difficult than the child before you, or after you). I was the difficult one. I could not be more full of guilt, or more thankful for my parents' undying, relentless love.

I can think of one moment, in particular, where my parents really shone through. Now, looking back, it was one of those defining moments in my life.

It was a particular hard time of life. I was 15 years old and full of teenage angst. I had just decided that my mom had been out to get me all these years. Don't ask how I had this delusion. Most of my life at that point was a delusion.
Regardless, I was pushing all my parents' buttons and I decided to pull out the ultimate card and yell a derogatory slur at my mom in the heat of an argument.

Yeah. It was messy. It was even more messy when my dad heard me from upstairs. I distinctly remember him, basically tumbling, rolling down the stairs, yelling  "Don't you EVER, EVER call your mom that again!"
He must have pressed up to  3 inches from my face. I can still see his furious eyes and the pure anger in his face. I can still remember the immediate regret that I had.
You have to understand something about my father---I have probably seen him yell at someone twice in my life---one of them was me, in that moment. (I wouldn't be surprised if the other one was me, either).

It blew me away. My dad had yelled at me. I grew up in a family where yelling did not happen. I certainly was never yelled at. Up to that point, I had seriously considered myself the-most--important-person-in-the-world. I'm serious. I think to some extent, every child believes this. Your parents' world appears to revolve around you (maybe not in every family, but I was under this heavenly situation where my parents love for me was unbreakable, untouchable and begging to be tested).

There was only one thing stronger than my father's patience and love for me.
His love for my mother.

I don't think I even looked at her again that day, but I imagine if I had, I would have seen hurt.
I probably would have seen sadness and carefully hidden tears.
This is the woman my father knew. The woman who had changed every diaper, kissed every boo-boo, given up personal dreams, and made dinner every day for 15 years. This is the woman I had yelled at, put down and generally disregarded as un-important, unworthy of my respect.
The thing is, I didn't know her. I didn't truly know her like my dad did.

If there was one moment that I could look back on and say, "this is why I know my parents will not get a divorce."  or "this is why I feel safe in my family." It would be that moment. For the first time, I realized that my dad's loyalty ran far deeper to my mother than to me. They were a team. He would stand up for her. He would defend her. I could not break them apart because they knew each other. They knew each other's hopes and dreams. He had listened to her after long days with babies--after moments where she was terrified for her kids' safety in the wild jungle we lived in (another story for another day). He had listened to her when she had shared her dreams for us, prayed for our future husband's and wives. He had supported her when she had forced my brother to overcome his fears of going on a rollercoaster, a feat that enabled him to gain confidence in every other area of his life.  He had picked her up when she had fallen, just as she had encouraged him when he was trying to figure out how to discipline, how to be a father.

These things do not come naturally. These things are molded, and they are molded by each other--by the love someone invests in your hopes & dreams. My parents are pre-history. They are pre-"me." Everything that they are has been made in a secret room that I have never entered. They love each other.

Isn't this what love is? Standing up for each other against a world that wants to bring you down? Even when your own child takes a stab at it---especially when your own child tries to take you down.

There is nothing greater that my parents did for me. In showing me that their love for one another was stronger, greater and older than their love for me, they showed me my place.
There was no greater gift they could have given me than those countless hours they spent building their marriage, in the best of times, and in the worst of times.

You know the feeling that I felt directly after my father yelled at me? I can distinctly remember it: it was a feeling of relief.  As in "thank goodness. I can't get away with being such a jerk. Thank goodness there are boundaries. Thank goodness that my dad loves my mom more than me."