Growing up I was always crushing, but I’ve never really been a sap. You know the kind who gushes when talking about their significant other, or stares longingly into their eyes for hours. That’s just never been me. But I’ve got to be honest, the past few months I have fallen asleep staring at my husband and thanking God for him. Our lives are crazy and we are probably in the least romantic phase of life. But, amidst all the hustle and bustle I find myself checking him out and thinking how did I get so lucky? I know! Sounds sappy, right? It is- and I’m totally cool with it.
My husband and I have been together for 15 years. Tomorrow we will have been married for 11 of those years. In two years, we will have been together for as long as we have been apart (17 and 17). Matt Hayes has had my heart for a long time.
The first time he was my boyfriend I was 13 years old. Even then, I was attracted to his sense of humor. He was new to our school and instantly everyone thought he was hilarious. He introduced us to using the “bleep” sound in place of a cuss word (like on TV). In middle school, that was comedy gold. I have a calendar in my memory box (I recorded a memory from each day) that has the words Matt Hayes written using the M from March. There is also a date that says, “Matt actually talked to me today!”. I went on a mission trip to Russia with my dad that spring and I remember that Matt wrote me a note to read on the plane (I probably read those 3 sentences fifty times). I don’t remember how or when we broke up, but he stayed in my circle of friends. (By that I mean, he dated my best friend, Emily, for most of the next year…)
We dated again freshman year of high school. We went to homecoming together and it was magical. He treated me so well and asked me to be his girlfriend on the dance floor. It was fun for a few weeks, but I was too interested in being social to have a serious boyfriend. I dumped him over the phone after the choir Barn Bash. Not my finest hour 🙂
We spent the next few years running in different circles. I was a music geek and he was an athlete, into cars and had a job. We had Chemistry together (the class, people) our junior year and I remember thinking he was cute in his vintage t-shirts, but we never really talked. That year, he took my best friend to prom and I went stag. I was their 3rd wheel. Sounds terrible, but it was the best. He treated me just like he did Emily. Opened my doors and made sure I wasn’t left in the dust. After that, we started hanging in the same circles again.
The summer before our senior year, our group of friends had a Senior Campout to start out our last year of high school. It was so much fun. Seriously. It was like the movies. We just had good, clean fun and we all laughed the whole time. AND…Matt and I flirted like crazy. There was a big wrestling match in the tent and I may have burnt his arm with a lantern- oops! I left that weekend thinking, “hmm, maybe I like Matt, AGAIN…”
Sure enough. Senior year was one big roller coaster of me figuring out how serious I wanted to be about our relationship. Matt was always a gentleman, always hilarious, always super hot and always so serious about our future. He denies this, but he told me our senior year that God told him we were going to get married. Freaked me out!! But, he was right 🙂 I broke up with him too many times that year, but by the early Spring I decided that, even though we were leaving for college soon, I wanted to be serious about our future too. His big guns, sense of humor, and mature faith were too much for me to resist any longer!
One night that spring, I went to his workplace and told him I still had feelings for him and the rest is history. Well, kinda. We did break up one more time after our freshman year in college. He needed to learn to find his identity without me and I needed to realize how much I loved him. I told you, I’m not a sap and I didn’t want to admit I was in love- for realz. I moped around that whole summer we were apart and watched him come into his own as a man. Right before we left on mission trip with our college group he called me and asked to meet up for lunch. I was over the moon. It was a little ridiculous. I remember feeling like I was floating around the house when I got off the phone. I knew I was done for. I wore a vintage t-shirt with a butterfly on it (the one in the picture below and I still have it). He told me that he still had feelings for me and I told him I still had feelings for him too.
I knew when we got back together that time, that I would follow him to the ends of the Earth. There was no one else for me. Our friends and parents didn’t take us seriously at first. We understood where they were coming from, but we both knew THIS was it. I finally let my guard down, and let myself really be IN LOVE. It was electric. We just had so much excitement about our future together.
One year later(ish), we were engaged. Nine months after that we got married amid a field of cicadas in my parents backyard. We were 21.
Now we are 32. Our wedding seems like yesterday to me. But, we’ve lived so much life together in the meantime. When we got married, would I have guessed Matt would end up a student pastor? Maybe. Would I have guess we would have 5 kids? Maybe. Quadruplets? Uh, no. 🙂
You never really know what you are going to get when you marry young. Matt and I still had a lot of growing up to do after we got married. I just knew that I couldn’t live without Matt Hayes and we would figure the rest out. And we have.
I lucked out. Matt is one heck of a man. And, he just keeps getting better with age. He has always been a charismatic, funny, hard working, man of integrity. But now he is so much more.
I knew he would be a good daddy. But he is a FANTASTIC father. He doesn’t come home from work and expect to relax- he jumps right in to the rhythm of our family (playing, feeding, baths, bedtime). I never feel alone in parenthood. He is always playing with our kids. My heart explodes out my tear ducts watching all our kids pile on top of him and giggle. He gently guides and teaches our kids- right/wrong, how much Jesus loves them, how to have fun. Between Matt’s example and having 4 sisters- Everett is gonna be a kick butt husband and dad someday too!
Matt is the instigator of unconventional fun. Riding crib mattresses down the stairs, using and industrial fan and an umbrella to roll Kate across the living room, setting up a 7 person tent in the living room to watch a movie, pulling the kids’ choo choo wagon behind his riding mower- none of those fun memories would have happened without him at the helm.
When we got married, I knew Matt would always take good care of our cars. And he has. What I didn’t know was that he would develop into an all around handyman. Handyman isn’t even the right word. In the past 3 years he has finished our attic (with help) and basement (all on his own). He put up a new fence around our whole backyard, built a custom dining room table for our quadruplets, shelves, and coat racks. When it comes to taking care of our family- he makes it happen! And he is so helpful around the house too. Does laundry and helps pick up and recently started doing dishes after dinner and cleaning the kitchen. You should be jealous, ladies!
But, even more than all of that- Matt is such a great partner. We make a good team. He knows how to communicate with me and show me love. He cares about my well being even with all the responsibilities he has at work and at home. Twice in the 15 months or so that the babies have been home, he has sent me away to a hotel to recharge. He sees me- even when I am having trouble seeing myself. He draws me out when I am feeling lonely or inadequate and encourages my soul. He makes me laugh. One night, we laughed uncontrollably doing our own whisper challenge like The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon. Like tears running down our cheeks, stomach muscles hurting, I’m not even sure what we are laughing about anymore- that kind of fun.
11 years ago our future was before us and our love was electric. The excitement has lessened but in its place is a depth I wouldn’t trade for anything. I always heard people say that but now I understand for myself. Watching Matt invest in students added another depth to my admiration of him. Walking with him through our battle with infertility forced us to understand one another on a different level. Fatherhood looks so good on him- seriously, watching him with Kate elevated his sexiness to new heights. And now our latest season, raising quadruplets together. It has required selflessness and service in ways we never could have imagined. But, oh, the joy! I feel like I could burst some evenings when we are all together as a family. All is as it should be.
It would be easy for us to drift through this season of raising small kiddos without really connecting. We aren’t satisfied with that. Thankfully, when I’m too exhausted to focus on out marriage he isn’t- and vice versa. God has given us what we need to get through each season of our lives together.
We still have so much future ahead. I have no idea where our family will end up, but I’m thankful I get to walk that road with Matthew Hayes. We will be together all of our days- always. Love you, handsome.