Six Years

Yesterday was my anniversary. I usually would’ve written something long and sentimental on Facebook about that, something about Kyle being my life partner and best friend and favorite teammate and all, but we had other matters to attend to, namely returning home from a vacation to see his family in Texas.

It was a great vacation, really. We had a lot of fun, despite plentiful mud and rain (or, in some cases, because of it). Sam got to see and fall in love with his Nana’s puppies, and he got to spend a lot of good time with his Nana and Poppy and Uncle Grant, none of whom he sees as often as any of us would like. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel and just had a nice, relaxing time together as a family. I think it was one of the more relaxing vacations we’ve had in a while.

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(not quite this relaxing,  but close)

But getting home. Oy.

We were flying out of DFW, which is no small task. When Kyle and I first started dating, he started bragging to me about the size of his airport (that isn’t a euphemism) and how it had five ZIP codes (that isn’t an exaggeration). Plenty of airports are big, but DFW is scary big, intimidating and confusing and hot.

We got to the airport around 3:45 p.m. for our 5:51 flight–plenty of time to get through security, get some snackish dinner items, and relax a little before boarding. Kyle and I were feeling good as we reached the check-in counter for jetBlue and asked them to print off our boarding passes and luggage tag. As those items printed, the lady behind the counter gently informed us that the flight had a new departure time of 8:30 p.m. but that we should stick by the gate in case that changed.

I had to ask her to repeat herself three or four times because, for those not willing to do the math, that’s a three hour delay.

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I can handle three hour delays when traveling on my own. I don’t like them–nobody does, of course–but just give me a place to plug in and a phone or Kindle full of books, and I’m set. Kyle’s the same way, and we can both handle them together, just between the two of us.

Sam, though.

Sam is three. He’s a very clever three-year-old with a massive vocabulary, a stunning imagination, and an almost cult-like following in his junior preschool classroom. What he does not possess, however, is patience. At all. He’s a devotee of the idea that instant gratification takes too long; if he has to wait for anything, he will protest and he will make sure the entire world knows it.

An hour and a half wait before boarding would’ve been doable, but three hours, and not only that, three hours at bedtime?

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But we tried to make the best of it. We stopped at TGIFriday’s for some dinner (Sam munched on soft pretzel sticks because his usual choice of noodles and broccoli was unavailable). We picked up snacks and magazines and souvenirs at the news stand. We managed to placate Sam for a while, with space to run and his Kindle to play on and snacks from his Nana to keep him sated.

Around 7:30, our resources were exhausted and the inevitable meltdown began. Sam sobbed that he wanted to eat a WHOLE bag of M&Ms, not just a FEW M&Ms, and he didn’t WANT water, he just WANTED WATER, and WHY WAS EVERYTHING HARD. The other passengers gave us stank eye, knowing full well that this shrieking child was going to be on their massively delayed flight; Kyle and I tried very hard to melt into the floor.

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But finally, FINALLY, we boarded the plane (passing large families and a Bernese Mountain puppy named Bo as we did), and despite a few rough patches, it was a smooth flight. Sam slept from about an hour in; I dozed, and I don’t know what Kyle did. Once we landed, we made our way to the bathrooms so that Kyle and I could relieve ourselves and so that Sam could get his diaper changed.

There was only one problem: Sam did not WANT to get his diaper changed.

Kyle took one for the team and changed him. I don’t know exactly what went on in there, but based on the screaming and Kyle’s haggard appearance afterwards, I can only assume it was an exorcism.

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(The Exorcist teaches you more about parenting a toddler than any book ever will)

As they approached and I opened my mouth to offer to take Sam from him, Kyle interrupted me. “If you have to use the bathroom, do it now.”

So I went. When I came out, Sam was once again crying and out of his stroller, looking down at his pajama pants. Kyle looked about five seconds from crying and was also looking at Sam’s pajama pants. “Can you go get some paper towels?” he asked, and I hurried off to do just that, no questions asked. Kyle explained the situation when I returned: Sam had been throwing such a tantrum when Kyle changed his diaper that the diaper got put on wrong. Sam had then peed and, well. The results were predictable, to say the least.

Back into the bathroom they both went to change, and after that, we were finally done with our bathroom adventure, 45 minutes after getting off the plane.

I should mention, too, that this was at 2:00 a.m.

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The airport was empty by then, or mostly, and had taken on that liminal space quality, where it felt like reality blurred. Kyle and I got lost on our way to baggage claim, since the security guard at the closest door was gone for the night, and finally reached our carousel at around 2:15. It took a while to find our bag, but once we had it, we headed out to retrieve our car, only to have our parking stub not register in any of Logan’s automatic pay machines.

Because of course.

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We gave up and just brought it with us. Thankfully, we’d taken a picture of the row we parked in, so we didn’t have to worry about hunting that down. We shoved everything into the Prius, paid our stub at the gate, and exited the airport…

…right into a traffic jam.

Kyle initially blamed it on “some idiot doing something stupid” but it was just construction lane closures that ended more quickly than we expected. The roads were clear the whole way home, and Sam was wide awake, asking both of us question after question, mostly about reflections in his window (“what’s that planet, Mommy?” “that’s not a planet, sweetheart, that’s a street light”).

Finally. FINALLY. We got home around 3:30. The neighborhood was quiet and eerily dark–no streetlamps, no cars, not even our porch light. We shuffled inside… and then Sam refused to go to sleep. This continued for about half an hour, until Kyle finally delivered him a “way past midnight” snack, and we all crapped out, officially at 4 a.m.

So I’m exhausted and haven’t got a romantic bone in my body, just some weary ones. But I will say this: our marriage works. It works because of nights like last night, when the world throws curveball after curveball at us, and we just link arms and laugh at it. It works because we don’t snap at each other when we’re mad at something else, because we bear the load together.

There was a great article on Cracked.com about six years ago (exactly four months after Kyle and I got married, so I was in a sappy mood when I read it). The author writes about “5 Ways You Know It’s Time To Get Married” and ended by proposing to his girlfriend, which was sweet enough. My favorite part, though, was the second-to-last point, about neither of you being in debt to each other, neither of you resenting pulling more weight when the other can’t:

Don’t picture your relationship as two people pulling a wagon. It’s like two legs carrying a person.

If you break a toe, your legs don’t have an argument about the fact that one of them is forcing you to limp. You just automatically change your stride and keep going.

I take it even further. When your legs are both tired, your right leg doesn’t just give up because it’s tired and leave your left to do all the work. They slow down and work together to get where they need to be, so that they can both rest.

Marriage–building your own family–is a team effort. You’re not pulling for yourself anymore; you’re pulling for the team, the whole team. Your successes and failures are shared, and so are the burdens you carry. Marriage doesn’t make the bad things in life go away; instead, it makes them easier to manage, because instead of being one person panicking and trying to carry it all by yourself…

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…you have two people sharing the load, even when things get tough.

And, well. All that to say: sugar, I’m glad to be on your team. I love you.

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