I like to think of our life as a familiar song in many households. We are not perfect parents, but our marriage and family are our focus in life. We have a house, two minivans, a dog and four wonderful adopted children. We do our best to maintain a routine and a semblance of order. We have a blessed life and appreciate all that we've received.
A good day at our house starts at 5:30 a.m. when my wife and I get up to conquer the world at work while our children cut their way through school. At 4:30 p.m. each day we pick up the kids to do homework, get dinner ready, spend some time connecting with them, then put them to bed at 8:00 p.m. Afterwards we clean up dishes, pay bills, chitchat about our day and our alarm goes off to get ready for our own bedtime. We squeeze in a few more chores, maybe talk ourselves into watching a quick show and my wife will take a relaxing bath before heading to bed. This is a good day.
Then there are days when we don't get the kids picked up until 5:59 p.m. The toddler and kindergartner run around unchecked because daddy is cooking and mommy is trying to get one daughter to build a diorama and having the other work on her spelling. Lo and behold the toddler has located a crayon and colored on the couch, cue the crying when daddy takes it away. 8:00 p.m. bedtime rolls around when we realize it is bath night and there is no hope of postponing because the girls' hair is threatening to form permanent dreadlocks. Daycare reports the toddler took great joy in pouring sand into his tight black curly hair.
We rush through showers instead of baths and get everyone done by 8:40 p.m., which is a good thing because that is when we run out of hot water. By 9:00 p.m. everyone is in bed and we begin the routine of cleaning up the dishes, glue, and Google how to get crayon off of fabric. We realize that we are in dire need of laundry so we throw a "need to survive" load into the washing machine. My wife decides to take a quick bath only to realize that there is no hot water. But that is okay because it is 11:00 p.m. and we have to get up in a little more than six hours. We get to bed with almost every task undone and a busy day coming up.
It is at this moment, a habit kicks in that we picked up a few years into our marriage. I close my eyes and I hear the words that have become a ritual in our house.
"Tell me about your three best things."
Every night before we fall asleep, my wife and I say the three best things that happened to us during the day. For a few minutes each night we share our triumphs and find the positive in even the worst of days. Even when one of us has had a bad day, we can listen to the great things that happened to our best friend as well as find the good things that happened in our own.
"I had a really good cookie, I enjoyed my bike ride to work and I enjoyed making dinner with the boys."
"How about you?"
"I helped a patient, the girls did really well on their homework and dinner was tasty."
We have been through the negatives: deaths, layoffs, friends and family divorces and infertility. We have also been through the positives: friends, births, adoptions, trips and afternoons of nothing. There have been days where we forget to say them but we have never failed to find three good things for any day. We have been married for 10 years. That is 3,652 days. Which means in the time of our marriage at least 21,912 good things have happened in our lives. If we include our children, that makes 48,192 good things our family has experienced at the minimum.
It is the positive that wins out each day in our marriage. Sometimes one of the best things is simply being in bed at the end of a long day. That is how we end each day, not lamenting the mess in our house, not aggravated about kids, school, work or social status. We end each day next to our best friend talking about how great life is while we drift off to sleep.