I always like to refer to this as our “family blog,” which is something of a farce as it implies I make contributions of some sort. In reality, this has always been Ellen’s blog about our family. It occurred to me today that this results in the blog being deficient in one important way. You get to see the rest of us through Ellen’s eyes, but you never get to see her through ours. To that end I am hijacking her blog for this, my very first (and only????) contribution to our family blog.
I had a professor in college that asserted any good blog post should be at least 1500 words. I believe this is nonsense and nobody would read a post that long. So, while there are a great many things I love, respect, and admire about Ellen, I’ll ignore my professor’s advice and attempt to be concise.
Ellen and I started dating in high school. One of the things that most attracted me to Ellen at that time (and ever since) is her confidence and sense of self. Ellen was only 16 when we met, an age at which most of us are trying to figure out who we want to be and are seeking validation and approval from our peers. Not Ellen. Ellen knew who she was; she liked who she was, and she didn’t need approval from anybody. One of my favorite aspects of this was it extended to me as her boyfriend at the time too. Too often friends would starting seeing someone and would lose their individual identity. The “couple” would form and the individuals would become conspicuously absent, resurfacing only when and if there was a breakup. Ellen, conversely, was not about to let a relationship define her or change who she was. To this day we have been able to build a wonderful and strong marriage without dissolving who we are as individuals. In fact, I believe the trust and respect we have for each other as individuals is one of the reasons our relationship works as well as it does. I have been contemplating these characteristics of Ellen quite a bit lately. In large part because I see little flashes of this in Staley at two and I so hope she has inherited these qualities from her mother. Perhaps this is a little premature at two, but a father can hope. Staley seems so comfortable with herself and is so outgoing. At music class Staley is the one dancing and twirling in the middle of the room while the other kids hover by their mothers. In stores she breaks into songs and goes around introducing herself to people, asking their names and telling them stories. It is fun to watch and it is very Ellen.
I am known to brag about Ellen’s toughness. It’s almost impossible for people not to underestimate her in this regard. Staley’s birth is the most complete illustration of this toughness. Poor Ellen labored for something crazy like 19 hours, including three solid hours of pushing, and followed immediately by a cesarean section surgery. I can’t even imagine what a person’s body must feel like after such an ordeal. Yet, Ellen was on her feet the following morning while refusing narcotic pain medication. She just took some ibuprofen. Yeah. That should do it. (In case you are wondering, with Adelie, we left the hospital less than 48 hours after arriving, Ellen having again refused more than a little ibuprofen for pain and opting to leave the hospital two days before she had to.) Tough as nails. I’m telling you.
Her toughness extends beyond the physical as well. She has posted several times on this blog about our struggles with infertility. I witnessed firsthand the toll it took on her and it breaks my heart even now to think back on it. Yet she persevered, putting on a brave face and soldering on through one crushing disappointment after another. A lessor person would have quit. Most people would have quit. Ellen didn’t and for that we have two beautiful daughters today. I am forever grateful for, awed by, and inspired by Ellen’s toughness.
Perhaps conciseness is not my strong suite after all, considering I’ve addressed merely two of my wife’s wonderful qualities and I’ll be hitting the 1500 words soon if I keep it up. On the other hand, I feel like many of her other qualities shine through her many blog posts, and are surely apparent to any regular reader of this blog. Her caring nature and generosity. Her intelligence, quick wit, and wonderful sense of humor. Her selfless devotion to her children and family. Her faith. There are people in this world who make a positive impact on the world around them and on the people with whom they interact. People who profoundly enrich the lives of those close to them. That’s Ellen, and I am so grateful I get to share my life with her and raise my family with her.