When I was a little girl I did not dream of husbands and children. Oh no. I was going to be a career girl through and through. A doctor if at all possible, if not a nurse would do. One thing I was sure of was that I was going places in the work force. Before attending university (to study nursing. Turns out you need be good at chemistry to be a doctor and I wasn’t. At all.), I took a couple of years out to do my thing. I travelled a bit, mainly to see the ancient sites of Greece and Egypt; I studied for a couple more A levels, y’know just for fun; I did some voluntary work with disabled adults on the coast and I spent a summer in New York State working on a camp with adults with learning difficulties. And it was here I met Gary in the very first week. Within weeks we knew we had each found our partner for life:
At the end of the summer we left to go home, him to Northern Ireland, me to London. Yes we were a holiday romance, but one that lasted. He proposed just a couple of months later, over Christmas. We saw each other as much as we could, but in reality it was only every few months, but we wrote and phoned. Almost a year to the day he proposed we married, a few days before Christmas by candlelight in a 12th Century church. I wore my granny’s wedding dress whilst he wore a kilt!
I was a student nurse and he was a carer. We were blessed when my dad offered us a room at my childhood home to live until I finished my degree.
It was a joy to be married to him. That’s not to say there haven’t been tricky patches. Having three babies in 9 months was hard. Thing is we had got married so young that we effectively grew up together. Those awkward years when you try to work out who you are and where you want to go in life, we spent them together, growing closer, learning together, accepting and even loving the ugliness that is sometimes part of that time.
About six months after I graduated we made the decision for me to be a stay at home wife. He would be my provider and I would be his nurturer. No one was more surprised by this turn of events than me. And yet, throughout our marriage it has proven to be the wisest decision we have taken. Money has been short, but companionship and lots and lots of laughter have been present in bucket loads. I will be forever grateful that I married a man who supported and desired that I be at home.
For me Gary is the very essence of what a man should be. He is strong- physically but more importantly in his character. He is fiercely loyal, even when times are tough. He works so hard to provide for his family, at times working at more than three jobs so I could stay at home. He goes to work even when ill. He never fears unemployment because his attitude is that he will work at any job going. And he gives his wife and family that one important thing that women all over the world desire. Love. A gentle, forever kind of love. A love that wraps its arms around our hearts with a determination never to let go, regardless of how tough it sometimes is. A love that will speak up, sometimes bluntly, always thoughtfully, saying that which needs to said, needs to be heard and yet is hard to both say and hear. It is a love that will hang around forever.
But the thing I love most about my gorgeous husband is how he is with our children. He makes the unselfish decision, everyday, that their welfare comes before his own. He arrives home, after being up since 430am, to a barrage of children throwing themselves at him, all clambering for a hug. He is a hands on dad from the moment he walks through our front door to the moment each and every child is tucked up safely in bed. There is nothing more a mummy could want for her children than a father who takes his responsibility as daddy seriously.
Why am I writing all this? His birthday is coming up and it reminded me of us returning from America all those years ago to celebrate his 21st birthday. Seventeen years.
I don’t know why he chose me, but I am so, so pleased he did.