Robin Kramer and her husband of 10 years, Joel, together have three daughters, Reese, almost 7, Brooke, almost 4, and Kerrington, almost 2. She teaches public speaking and writing at Penn State University, blogs at Pink Dryer Lint, and is finishing her first book, “Then I Became a Mother.”
Dear Reese, Brooke, and Kerrington,
On an autumn day in 1997 your father and his college roommate, a friend of mine, were walking down Curtain Road at Penn State as I was crossing the street. Even though your dad was running late, his roommate stopped him long enough to introduce us.
Our initial meeting was quick, inconsequential even. I continued to class, not thinking about your father again until I saw him at a gathering with mutual friends. He was genuine and had a quick sense of humor that belied his general quiet disposition. I soon realized one thing: with Joel, what you see is what you get. I appreciated his simplicity and constancy.
We began seeing each other around campus: going on long hikes with a group of friends, sitting beside each other at a baseball game, playing board games, eating chips and salsa while we watched movies, attending the same church, having long conversations. This casual interaction developed so unassumingly that it took me over two years to notice what had become obvious to our friends around us. Whenever I was around your dad, I was comfortable. I was animated. I was laughing. I was in love.
Three months before I graduated, your father invited me out to dinner and a play – our first outing that could be construed as an actual date. As I dressed up for the night and saw your dad arrive in a blue dress shirt and tie, I remember feeling unexpectedly nervous. I felt our relationship shifting. Over dinner we sat in a corner booth and talked about my job offers and plans. Like most young adults facing their futures, I was confused. Your dad simply listened.
Later that evening as he walked me to my apartment, he did what he continues to do so well: he spoke simply and transparently. He told me that he loved me. “You do know that my full intention is to marry you, right?”
I did then.
My mind was made up. I accepted a teaching position in the area. He bought a ring and formally proposed that winter. We were married the next summer, and this past August we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary by traveling for the weekend while your grandparents watched you. You met us at the front door when we returned, climbing on us before we could drop our bags and asking whether we had fun.
We certainly did. It’s what happens when you marry your best friend.
Reese and Brooke, at some point both of you have looked at our wedding pictures and commented that you’re nowhere to be seen. “Why didn’t you invite us?” you asked, touching the pictures, as if we had slighted you like when we wait to eat ice cream after you’ve gone to bed and you notice the bowls and spoons in the sink the next morning.
The answer to your question is simple: Because we got married before you even existed, sweetie. And now you know why.