Marry the man who answers the call.
The man who answers the call to offer kindness, grace. When expectations aren't met. When after months of dating and fancy dinners out, he discovers you're not quite the wife he imagined you'd be. When he finds out you don't really know your way around the kitchen and wonders why the only meals you serve are Tuna Helper or frozen pizza. When lingerie is traded in for sweatpants and a stained t-shirt. When you insist on being alone.
The man who answers the call to not only be a father, but to act like one. Who changes diapers and gives baths. The one who tends to a crying baby in the middle of the night. Who rocks and shushes and sings to the smallest of souls. The one who leaves the comfort of the couch to play catch with a child who's begging for his attention. Who turns off the TV and helps with homework. The one who doesn't babysit his kids, but competently parents and nurtures them.
The man who answers the call to fill in when you're wiped out. Who washes dishes without being asked. Who sweeps floors and folds laundry and picks up toys. The one who takes your place at the grocery store and orders pizza when you're too tired to cook. Who takes the kids out for ice cream so you can rest without interruption. The one who reads them bedtime stories so you can go to bed early.
The man who answers the call to respond when crisis strikes. Who races home, no questions asked, when your panicked voice cries out to him from the other end of the line. The one who rushes you to the hospital when you think something is wrong with the baby. Who holds your hand and cries with you when that's confirmed. The one who hurries into the nursery at the unmistakable sound of vomiting and carries sick children into the ER. The one who counteracts your worry with hope.
The man who answers the call to love you compassionately. There's a place for passion, sure. But you might be surprised to find what you need most is compassion. When it turns out you aren't the perfect wife. Or the perfect mother. Or perfect at all. When grief over any number of circumstances makes you almost unrecognizable. When your brokenness threatens to break him. When you are incapable of doing much more than surviving. Marry the man who will love you anyway.
He doesn't have to be perfect or chiseled or romantic or rich. He just has to be willing to answer the call.
And I thank God for the one who answered the call to commit himself to me all those years ago, and who's been answering the call ever since.
This post originally appeared here. Be sure to follow Jenny on Facebook for more on her incomplete family and imperfect motherhood.