There’s something to be said for normalcy in one’s life.
I don’t push myself or my kids to conform to society’s ideas of normality, mind. I’m gloriously weird, my kids are gloriously weird, our family life doesn’t reflect what a lot of people would consider “normal,” but all of that said, we have our own beat of normal that we’ve been missing for a long time. It was missing for a variety of reasons–summer vacation, Covid, Kyle being out of work–but at long last, I can say with some confidence that it’s starting to come back.
For one thing, all three kids are in school now, finally. The twins started back in the spring, because they aged out of early intervention services, so it was less of a huge transition for them. Other kids in their preK class started the school year with tears and clinginess, but the twins just marched right on down to their classroom like they owned the place. Even in the spring, school was just so good for them overall. Carrie went from babbling a lot to actually using words more often than not (which we expected of her–she loves to use words and speak in complete sentences when she knows how, and school helped her refocus those abilities somewhat), and Isaac has done the same (which is huge for him–he actually answers questions without being fed options now, and that’s amazing) (and an addendum: if he just didn’t want to communicate verbally or if he wasn’t comfortable doing so, I wouldn’t push it on him, but he’s made it more than apparent that he LOVES to talk with us and communicate verbally, so I’m happy to encourage it). They’ve made friends and are comfortable with the routine they have at school, and I love to see it. They’re also so much calmer when their days are in this kind of routine, which I love to see for other reasons (like my own sanity).
And Sam started back at school, which is fantastic. Yes, Covid is still raging, but our schools have fantastic protocols in place, and after the stress of last year and knowing that Sam has ADHD and is likely autistic as well, I wanted him to be in a place where he could receive the accommodations he needs rather than struggling with me at home. His friends are all in school, and that has been huge for him–he’s not alone anymore, and I can see just from that how much happier he is. And that alone does my heart a world of good.
He’s receiving special ed services this year, too (which means I have three IEPs to keep track of, and as any parent of a special ed student can tell you, that is basically a full time job except you don’t get dollars for it), and that’s been great. His accommodations aren’t super complex, like he doesn’t require a constant aide at his side or anything, but he does have accommodations: he gets to work with a special ed instructor every day of the week and on his English/Language Arts lessons, and he’s got the special ed instructor around daily to make sure that he’s doing well. His teacher is also aware of his accommodations and will let him step out into the special ed classroom if he’s getting too overwhelmed by things, which will be good for keeping him from melting down in class.
I love his school’s philosophy on so many things. Their view of writing is that kids should be able to write about whatever they want in order to develop their writing skills and narrative voice, which I hope helps Sam as much during the school year as it helped him over the summer (when he would write five chapter long stories about the cardboard spaceship he built, and those stories were and are wonderful). They’re sensitive to each kid’s needs, and while that shouldn’t be a “wow this makes them stand apart from the crowd” thing, it kind of is, and I’m glad they’re standing apart from the crowd like this instead of in a bad way.
So the kids are back in school, and that routine is getting back to something like normal. It means that mornings are just me and Kyle, which hasn’t been the case since 2013, and that’s pretty wonderful in and of itself. The house is quiet except for the sound of both of us typing and someone quietly talking about the weather on TV, and maybe Kyle on a work call…
…which, oh yes. Kyle got a job.
It’s a fun sort of story. He’d interviewed with this company last year at the suggestion of one of his old managers who currently works there. They didn’t have a position for him then, but they promised to keep him in mind if anything else came up. Nothing did in the fall, and Kyle started his most recent job then only to be laid off in June. And it was the whole song and dance of applying to companies, having companies say, “mmm, thanks but no thanks” (anyone who’s looked for a job in the last decade or so, and especially the last two years, can attest to that particular Broadway number) for a couple of months, and then he called this company back. And wouldn’t you know, they had a position for him.
It’s a good position. Without getting into details, it’s an incredibly comfortable salary and benefits situation, and they sweetened the deal in all sorts of ways that are really blowing my mind. So far, Kyle is loving the people he works with and the company’s philosophy as well, and I really REALLY hope this good fortune settles in and sticks with us a while. We just have to get through the next five-ish days before his first paycheck comes in and then we should finally, FINALLY be okay in the longer term.
Having him working again is really nice. It just gives us a schedule during the week, real weekends instead of every day blurring together into an endless hellscape. It feels like life is just… life and not life with an asterisk about it being weird.
Things just seem to go in cycles, patterns repeat themselves, and then you end up looking at your situation and asking, “…wait, didn’t we JUST do this?” which is annoying because nobody wants to keep doing stuff over and over again AND YET.
Long and short, Kyle got laid off on Friday.
It sucks. There’s no other way to say it. We weren’t super comfortable lately (various unexpected expenses keep popping up and, as per usual, they end up costing roughly $500), but we were managing. I was thinking about getting a job in the fall after recovering from my spine surgery, just to give us a little more wiggle room for Things. And we were managing.
And then Kyle got laid off.
It wasn’t his performance. It wasn’t tight budgets. It wasn’t a CEO throwing their weight around. It was a managerial decision that made a lot of sense, which is even more annoying because there’s nowhere to throw any misplaced frustration except space, I guess. Space and capitalism. But more the latter than the former.
Friday was all about getting ducks in a row: Kyle signed up for unemployment and signed the two of us up for state healthcare (which, in our state, is really good). I called the hospital and rescheduled my spine surgery to make sure that our health insurance will be updated before I go in (because while any insurance we’d have would be retroactive to the first of the month–when insurance should kick in–I don’t want to wrestle with billing departments over a $40k surgery). We both sat down and cried. We both went on all the sites to see how the job market is looking in Kyle’s sector.
And on the upside, it’s a decent enough market. Lots of jobs for his title, a lot of them with remote options. Lots paying decent money. And in the meantime, we have families willing to help us out as much as we need. This will hopefully be a short season, and it’ll be a season where Kyle gets to spend a lot of time with the kids and with his family, whom we haven’t seen in two years (thanks, pandemic), and then take care of me/them after my surgery in August.
But I wish it weren’t going to be a season at all. It’s that Lord of the Rings feeling, where you wish the ring hadn’t come to you and that you weren’t living through these times. Sure, you can decide what to do with the time you’re given, but that doesn’t make it feel any better to see Gandalf fall down to the middle of Middle Earth or to have the damn ring around your neck try to turn you evil every second of every day of your life. I think both of us are happy to make the best of the 24 hours we’re given in this shitty ass season, but I’d really prefer to be in a better season.
Like maybe one where we’re financially comfortable, where the world is an objectively good place that isn’t constantly heating up, where I can feel optimistic about the future for more than 15 minutes at a time.
But instead, we just sing this verse again, and really, I’d just rather move onto the next.
Have you ever had a month where everything happened so much and you didn’t have any time to really process one thing before the next was happening because that was May in our house.
It happens roughly this way every year. From the twins’ birthday in March to the Fourth of July, I’m basically running around like a chicken with my head cut off–baking cakes, wrapping presents, organizing mini parties (because aside from the twins’ first birthday, they haven’t really been in a place to have a real party). Even in typical years, May is the heaviest chunk of this insanity, with Sam’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and Kyle and my anniversary squeezing into the mix.
But this year is not a typical year, and unlike last year, this does NOT mean that things got quicker and easier.
The first chunk of the month was sort of easy. It was mostly just organizing for Sam’s birthday, his seventh birthday, which feels like a monumental year. We’d hoped that by this time, he’d have been back in school and able to have a birthday party–a real party–but 2020’s claws aren’t fully extracted, so we had to make smaller plans, plans that involved a Minecraft cake (of which I am VERY proud), a trip to the Museum of Science, and trick birthday candles.
And admittedly, that’s a far cry better than last year. Last year, I scrambled to pull something slightly special together, and it was all taking place roughly in and around our house. This year, we could at least go somewhere and do something. We could go visit my parents, which we’d BARELY started doing last year. And that made a HUGE difference.
He’s a happy seven-year-old, missing one of his front teeth, obsessed with Pokemon and Beyblade and Minecraft and science. Bouncing around the house at 9000 miles an hour when he gets excited and then flopping down on the couch talking about how exhausted he is. Begging us to have a Beyblade battle with him literally every second of every day or, failing that, to play Pokemon with him (this currently involves him telling us what to say about our Pokemon and us saying it).
He is also, it’s turning out, not a neurotypical kid. This isn’t surprising in the least, but all of the testing that Sam has had over the last several months in preparation for him returning to public school in the fall has kind of confirmed what those of us close to him have suspected for a while. At the very least, he falls pretty solidly on the “yes” side of the ADHD scale (as in “yes this kid has ADHD”), and everyone who’s evaluated him is pretty solidly convinced that he’s autistic as well, which is giving me a lot of emotions.
On the one hand, I’m thrilled. I’m autistic. Isaac is autistic. We’re a neurodiverse family, and that’s how it’s been from the beginning. It means that on some level, Sam’s brain and my brain work the same way, and that is just SUCH a relief as a mom, knowing that your brain and your kid’s brain are on the same wavelength. It makes sort of “hacking” those wavelengths a little easier, because even though the same things that worked for you almost certainly will not work for your kid, you at least have a common starting ground, and that’s an amazing feeling. Instead of watching your kid melt down and not knowing what to do about it, you can recognize “okay, the TV is too loud, he’s hungry and tired, and his blanket needs to be washed so it’s less scratchy.” And you can even find ways to motivate schoolwork, if you’re an A+ student (which I am. Sometimes.).
But on the other hand, I’m frustrated at the narrowness of diagnostic criteria for younger kids. When Sam was much younger, everyone who met him said that he couldn’t possibly be autistic. He forced eye contact with everyone, literally took people’s faces in his hands and made them look at him. He’s always been a little comic and so talkative. In daycare and even up through kindergarten, he’s always been a social butterfly who makes so many friends. He’s beyond clever and, to my great envy, has none of the social signs that people look for when diagnosing autism… so he went completely undiagnosed despite the ways he melts down during times of transition and despite his sensory issues with food and despite how he shuts down when something seems too hard for him.
ADHD and autism look really similar sometimes.
I’m a little relieved that he didn’t get diagnosed earlier because it spared us a lot of stress with therapies that might not have benefitted him in the long run, but I’m also annoyed because now, we have to go through the whole referral process, which can take up to 18 months (I’ve filled out paperwork for a place that could theoretically offer him an appointment in July–more on that being a silly idea coming up later–but they haven’t gotten back to me since I sent it). He has an IEP now, but it’s there without the legal protections in place because he doesn’t have that diagnosis, and that frustrates me.
So it’s a whole thing. I still have more paperwork to fill out for him to get back to school in the fall, and it’s a lot. But having these pieces to the puzzle has really helped.
Sam turned 7. We set up his IEP. I went to the eye doctor for the first time in eight years (ah, American health insurance). And then, since Kyle and I are both fully vaccinated and it has been a YEAR, we hopped on a plane and flew down to Florida for our tenth wedding anniversary.
We went to Disney for our honeymoon, and I can go on a whole rant about how awful a lot of their business practices are, but I also tend to light up like Christmas at the idea of being there, and after this trip, Kyle does as well. It was just the two of us, no kids or anyone else. We went at our own pace–made lightsabers on the first morning, ate around the world at Epcot the second day (I love Epcot festivals, they are magical), drove down to Miami-ish to spend time with my bestie Sherrie on the third day.
There was no real pressure. We did what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. No worries about someone getting too tired or not wanting to eat the food at a certain restaurant. No rushing to make this Fast Pass time or that restaurant reservation. Lots of crowds, to be sure, but without the stress we’ve gotten used to on these trips.
And it was just. Nice. Nice and earned. We’d been burning out pretty quickly, thanks in large part to my sciatica having us running on empty since November, and while this didn’t refill our tanks by any stretch of the imagination, it was VERY nice to be able to just be with each other, relaxing and having a good time. Kyle enjoyed himself so much that he actually took pictures (I’m the one with the camera most of the time) and has been talking about what we’ll do the next time we’re there, and I’m just happy. Very happy to have had that time with him.
And now we’re back and 30 days out from my spine surgery. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t genuinely really nervous about the surgery. It’s not a complicated procedure like a fusion or fixing scoliosis; it’s just removing the herniated disc material and letting my sciatic nerve heal some, but because of my weight (let me tell you, a pandemic and a spinal injury are really not good when you’re trying to get healthier), there’s a possibility they won’t be able to reach my spine. And there’s always a possibility that it won’t work, that I’ll just leave the hospital in more pain than I had when I went in, and that scares me.
The recovery period scares me, too. Basically from July 1 through October 1, I won’t be on my A-game, which is annoying because so much is happening in that timeframe that I need to be present for: Sam starting school again, the twins starting school in the fall, Halloween prep, picture day… it’s all stuff that I love doing about parenting, and it’s all stuff I’m either going to have to be very lazy about or else entrust to somebody else, which I HATE doing because delegating is scary because what if it’s not exactly the way I would’ve done it but HNNNGH.
I need this. I desperately need this surgery and the recovery time, but I am stressing so much about getting through the recovery. Kyle suggested (per his therapist) that I focus on something after the surgery that we’ve got planned (which is nothing right now because I’m not sure if any of our usual fall activities are even happening this year–I think they are, but who knows?), and I agree with that, but it’s so hard to make my brain see past the recovery all the way to what comes after when so much comes in between.
2011 was a hard year, all the way into 2012. It started out with so much ice that we were stuck in your parents’ house for weeks on end (wonder what that’s like ha ha ha.). Then your car spun out on your way back from work one night, and it was totaled, and I was so glad that you were okay. As long as you were okay, we’d figure out the car situation.
Except maybe a month later, my car got totaled, too, by some maniac that crashed into it while I was sleeping after teaching a way-too-early morning class. He pushed it all the way up on your parents’ lawn, and pieces were falling off of it. That was right after we both signed on your replacement car, that awesome Toyota Corolla that I still miss. That was a good car.
And then I had that mess up with my job, the year I was a teaching fellow, scrambling to make it to teach a 7:50 class at my school an hour away, driving on highways that weren’t yet familiar to me well before sunrise, eating a terrible breakfast of pretzel M&Ms and a 5 Hour Energy. I misunderstood the school schedule, nobody bothered to correct me when I asked, and we had a third of my pay taken away overnight.
I remember that day, when I found out what they were doing, and I felt so ashamed and guilty, but you never flinched. You went out that night and got a job, boom, just like that. It wasn’t a great job, no, but it was a job, and right then, having a job was better than having no job.
It’s ironic to me that 2011-2012 was such a bad year for us, because it was the year we got married. May 22, 2011.
Remember how neither of us can remember it through a first person lens, just like we’re watching ourselves go through the entire day on a TV screen or something? How surreal is that?
But things got better for the summer, my first summer in Texas, our first summer as a married couple. We found an apartment in Bedford, a really nice one, and I had an internship that paid more than I’d ever made before, easily enough to pay for both of our cars (because I had a new one now, too, so that you could get to your classes in Arlington while I went to work in Southlake) and the really nice apartment in Bedford. Sure, the apartment had an ant problem, but that didn’t bother us–they were our minions and we were their gods.
Sure, the building’s electricity went out with alarming regularity and caused the stove to catch on fire a few times, but we had that great loft where the reptiles were nice and warm, and space for all of our things, and nobody there but the two of us.
One night that summer, well before sunrise, you turned over in our bed–the inflatable mattress my parents had given us–and asked, “Do you ever get that sinking feeling?” as the mattress deflated and our butts touched the floor. We couldn’t afford a new bed, but we got one anyway, because we needed one, and we laughed the whole time: folding up the air mattress with its many holes, choosing the cheapest queen size bed at Big Lots, trying to get it past all of our boxes into the corner of our bedroom in that really nice apartment in Bedford.
I could’ve stayed there, I think. I didn’t like that summer, what with its temperatures refusing to dip below 100 so we spent way too much on electricity every month just to keep the apartment livable, but I could’ve stayed in the Bedford apartment if things had worked out. If we’d figured out our work situation more quickly, maybe we’d be living in Bedford right now, though our lives would look very different.
Things started to not work out. The internship ended, and though I’d spent the entirety of my graduate program hearing that internships almost always led to job offers, this one didn’t. Not only that, but the head of the department gave me a furious dressing down when I presented the work I’d done for the internship, telling me that I was terminally unprofessional, which was a shame because I was such a good writer, and that she didn’t see me as employable. As she left the room, me standing there barely composed, my legs shaking, she turned and gave me a saccharine smile. “Congratulations on your wedding,” she said; she looked like Dolores Umbridge.
I don’t think my confidence in myself has ever recovered from that meeting, but it’s funny because your confidence in me didn’t waver for a second, even when you came home the day after and laughingly told me that you’d lost your job, too.
That wasn’t the end of Bedford. Our days turned into job hunts, and we spent our nights watching movies on cable. On Halloween, we didn’t have any trick-or-treaters, but we did snuggle on the couch with popcorn and chocolate milk, and it was really nice.
And then in November, things turned again, like the Wheel of Fortune always does. Without applying for it, I got a job, my favorite job I’ve ever had, and with a substantial increase in pay from what I’d been making at my internship. It still wasn’t a lot, but it was more than enough to keep us comfortable in the Bedford apartment, to keep the cars paid for, maybe even for us to start doing normal things like going to the doctor again or trying to grow our family.
Christmas in 2011 was absolutely wonderful. It was my first Christmas away from Massachusetts, but I couldn’t feel too homesick. We didn’t splurge, but you understood when I needed a little Christmas, right this very minute, and you accepted that I named our Charlie Brown Christmas tree “Charles Barkley” (however begrudgingly). We had our junkfood feast and you hung the lights. On Christmas Day, we watched fewer Star Wars movies than we planned, but that’s mostly because getting through Attack of the Clones is a chore. I made us cheesy chicken kiev and green beans.
And things seemed to still be going well. Work was busy, but busy work is a good sign, they say. If you run out of things to do, that’s when you should worry. You looked for work in your field, I came home every day, we did Married Couple Things. In early March, we thought I might be pregnant, but I wasn’t, and then a few days after I wasn’t, I was laid off.
It came as a surprise and as not a surprise, both at the same time. I’d heard rumors about layoffs all week long, but when it actually came, it was still a blow, even with both my manager and the CEO telling me they’d recommend me to anywhere I wanted. As nice as they were, I still felt no guilt ordering an expensive dessert on the company’s dime that day.
But just like that, we had no income. You had your savings account that was supposed to be for college, but we didn’t want to spend all of that on rent and car payments. I was hunting for jobs like crazy, but I got nothing. You were applying for everything you could, but you got nothing.
We were at the end of our rope. We were broke, student loans were beginning to come due, and the recession had settled into our chosen fields in Texas. And we made a hard choice, together.
Because moving up here was a hard choice, and it felt a little bit like failure. We’d tried to make it on our own, but we’d stumbled and fallen, and though my parents didn’t mind having us live in the in-law apartment for a while, it was so quintessentially Millennial of us, wasn’t it? All of our things got packed into a UHaul storage box that we wouldn’t see again for another year. We squeezed what we could into our two cars (my mom drove one), and we took the long road, through Arkansas and Tennessee and Virginia and Pennsylvania and New York and Connecticut and Massachusetts.
But we were together. We laughed together. We cheered for Bucksnort, Tennessee, and for our savior town of Bristol. We made each other snort laughing about the Mouseketeers summoning Mickey to devour a sacrifice. We had each other, and by the end of that long, hard first year, we’d really put into practice what we’d promised in our marriage vows. We were each other’s best friends, through thick and thin, and we knew that if difficult times came again, we’d weather them together.
And, I mean, weathering them together is infinitely better than weathering them with one of us 2000 miles away from the other.
This year has been rough, too, and it’s only May 22. I got so sick in January and February, so sick that I said to you at one point that I was so sick of being sick and stuck inside because I couldn’t walk around Target without feeling exhausted and winded. As if that were a preview of coming attractions, Covid-19 descended on the world, and we’ve been stuck inside since March.
Right now, we should be planning our date at the Melting Pot. The kids should be at my parents’ house, having a sleepover because tomorrow is a Saturday. Maybe we’d use some of the free time in the morning to go to Home Depot and order a microwave, but more likely, we’d sleep in until my phone buzzed with my mom asking, “So when are you coming to pick up the kids?”
But we’re not. We’re not even getting a calm day. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment, you’re watching the kids all morning, you’ve got an interview in the afternoon, the best we can really do is a faux-movie date after the kids go to bed. Not the anniversary I’d hoped for.
The truth, though, is that I still wouldn’t trade it for the world, because it’ll be with you.
Here’s some more truth for you: I still want to go through all the ups and downs of life with you, even nine years after I walked down the aisle having an out-of-body experience. I’m not at that desperate stage of love, where I’m thinking and saying, “I NEED YOU.” You don’t complete me, my dear; I was complete when I met you. But damn, do you make life better.
I can sit here in our office and ramble on to you about how I’m trying to reconcile my need for this lockdown to end with my desire to keep people safe, and you understand me. You don’t fight with me; when we disagree, you work with me and we find solutions together. We’ve reached that point where we can look at each other over our kids’ heads without saying a word and communicate flawlessly, and I love it.
I love the way Sam teases us when he catches us kissing, because it means that he knows as well as we know that we don’t just love each other; we really like each other. I love the way Carrie sees us kiss and then does her little dancey dancey walk over to us to get in on the action (heaven forbid we ever show affection to anyone and not show some to Carrie as well). I love how Isaac laughs in confusion when we cuddle on the couch, like we’ve ceased to be Mommy and Daddy and have just become MommyandDaddy, a single conjoined entity.
I love our nighttime clothes folding sessions while watching whatever series we’ve decided is currently worth our attention. I love the way you squeeze my butt when I roll over in bed, like “hey, I love you.” I love that we’re both able to see what the other really means and work through the actual root issues of any given problem. I love that you both do and don’t let me be the DM’s wife during our Saturday night game (the nat 20s on persuasion rolls are totally legit!). I love that feeling of relief that settles in when you get home from wherever, not just because I’m no longer alone with our three monkeys, but because you’re here, so things will be alright.
This is a bullshit season of our lives, and it’s not the first, and it won’t be the last. But after being married nine years and being together thirteen, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be than with you.
It’s not that I’ve had nothing to talk about; it’s more that every time I sit down to write, my brain gives me a loading error and I end up getting stuck about three pages in without ever making a point. And it’s not that blog writing NEEDS a point, but if I’m writing like I’m coming to a point, I should probably have a point to come to. Right? Right.
So I’ve kind of lost my points. I was going to write about travel and roadtrips, but then I got bored of that writing because it was mostly just me recounting stories I’ve told a million times before. I was going to write about cathedrals because Notre Dame had me sad for about five minutes (until it wasn’t actually destroyed and it’ll be fine), but I got bored describing my favorite cathedrals halfway through. I had all sorts of threads I was going to follow, but I kept losing them.
In conclusion: I’m just going to ramble about random things.
In real life, it’s Easter today, and it was a fun one.
The kids got all dressed up in matching outfits (or attempted matching outfits; those pants and that dress looked a lot more similar online, but I love them all anyway), and we went to my parents’ house for dinner. Sam has had a TON of sugar, and so have we, but it’s all been good. The only bad was that we bought Peter Pan for Sam to watch and have been unsuccessful in finding the remote for our Blu Ray player, so I’m hoping he’s still interested in it once we manage to summon said remote out of the ether, whenever that happens.
But it’s overall good. Everything’s honestly overall good. We paid off a large debt recently, and that felt great. We’re moving in a decidedly positive financial direction, and that feels great, too. Going from “how are we going to get groceries this week?” to “oh yeah, we can totally afford to get the kids some nice pajamas and also to get a new frying pan” is both stunning and fantastic, especially because it happened so quickly. The last year, so much money went towards formula, and now the twins are on real food and whole milk, and we’ve got many more dollars and cents.
The twins themselves are doing very well. They’ve both caught up to where they should be developmentally, in a lot of ways, and they’re continuing to make progress at fantastic paces. They both still have therapists, and we’ll see if they still need them in another year or two, but seeing them progress physically and mentally by leaps and bounds does my heart good, especially remembering that they shouldn’t even be turning one for another four days.
And Sam… that boy, my god. He’s so scary smart. He’s been really into Legos lately, and he builds these amazing machines while taking engineering needs into consideration like he’s some sort of actual professional engineer or something. And then tonight, on the drive home from my parents’ house, he was doing multiplication in his head. Not just tiny numbers, but double digits, which I didn’t even learn until fifth grade. This kid, my god.
His kindergarten registration starts on Tuesday, and I’m pumped for it. Part of me is like “my baby 😦 ” but I’m mostly really excited to see him start school. He’s SO smart, and I hope that he’s able to really flourish in a more structured setting, because otherwise, it would be a goddamn shame.
I know he has plenty of areas that are ripe for improvement, too, but I think he’s at just the right age for kindergarten. He’s vacillating between excited and terrified of it, one day talking about how he can’t wait to go to school every! day! and the next getting all teary and talking about how he just wants to stay home with me and the babies forever. It’ll be a huge adjustment, I’m sure, and I’m expecting some rough nights around the start of the school year, a lot of tears and meltdowns.
But that’s what we’re here for: to help him work through it and learn to adjust. I always keep in mind that he’s not gone through something like this before. He’s been at the same school since he was just past a year old (aside: GROSS SOBBING ABOUT HIS GRADUATION), and the shift to a more structured learning environment in a place that isn’t his daycare will be really huge for him. He’s never done something like this before.
And, well. We were all there, once. It’s easy to forget, when it’s 30 some-odd years in the past, but it’s all new to him. I just hope we can give him the support he needs to really succeed.
Back to the twins. Being one has already been an adventure for both of them, but more for Isaac. The day of their birthday party, he woke up with a low grade fever, utterly miserable. He seemed to improve for a few days, but then in the middle of the night, three days after the party, he woke up in the middle of the night with another fever and with really rough sounding breathing. At the recommendation of the on-call nurse, we brought him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with RSV, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia… and the only reason he didn’t end up hospitalized for that was that he’s just old enough and we caught it just early enough that it didn’t turn into something terrible.
He’s better now, even after a couple of days of being a really picky, slow eater and losing some weight during recovery. He’s back to chugging milk, eating everything he sees, and zooming around the living room at top speed. He’s such a speed demon, and so sneaky, that we’ve had to triple check our gates every time we go through them. The other day, I was on the couch, half watching them and half browsing Game of Thrones spoilers (look, I like to be prepared to say good-bye to my favorite characters, and I did my unspoiled time when I watched Lost) when I heard the gate moving. I saw little blonde heads near it and figured the twins were just playing with it, like they do, but a beat later, I looked again and only saw one little blonde head, and she turned and giggled at me.
So now I’m up and in a mild panic because where did Isaac go??? Fortunately, though he’s a fast crawler, he’s not THAT fast. Unfortunately, he’s fast enough that he got into the cat’s room (she’s old and senile and pees on a lot of things, so she has her own room) and was, as I barged in, happily noshing on cat food.
The gate, mind you, had been closed. So I’m not sure what happened there, except that Isaac apparently does not care what goes in his mouth, ever.
Carrie, on the other hand, remains my delicate little drama queen. She is, by far, the most loudly opinionated of my three kids; if she is having an emotion about anything, you will hear about it. This sounds like it’s a negative, and it is sometimes (mostly when she wakes up from a nap or in the morning and isn’t in her parents’ arms), but my favorite is her scream of joy that just happens. It happens when one of us comes in to get her in the morning/after naptime. It happens when someone who’d gone out comes back. It happens when she discovers that a toy is particularly fun to play with. And it’s adorable.
She’s also taken to imitating the cat for obvious reasons (I mean, wouldn’t you?). So she’ll sit there, in the middle of the living room, matching Tinkerbell’s tone perfectly, and saying, “Bowwwww! Bowwwwww!” (because I guess “meow” is very difficult) I’m leaning into it and getting her a bunch of kitty-themed clothes for the summer, because GOD that’s cute. It’s ridiculously cute, y’all. It’s SO cute.
The only rough thing with the twins is that they don’t quite like each other yet. Or, rather. They like each other, but they don’t know how to express that without hurting each other, and that makes interactions very stressful.
Consider: at their age, their love and tolerance for a person is primarily demonstrated through face pats. The problem is that they aren’t very gentle, so when they try to pat each other’s faces, it results in both scratches and slaps, and someone ends up crying. They REALLY want to show each other that, hi, I like you, but they’re so bad at people-ing that it’s kind of sad.
Oh well. They’re getting older, so hopefully, within the next year or so, they’ll learn to express affection in ways that aren’t slapping each other in the face. Bless them.
And then there’s Kyle, who’s working from home until Monday the 29th, while his office goes through some rearrangements/changes. This is largely a blessing, but I expect it to turn VERY rough when he actually goes back, and I suddenly have three kids missing their dad being there all day, two who just don’t understand what’s going on and one who understands but REALLY DOES NOT LIKE IT.
(shown: Sam when Kyle goes back to the office)
His being home has made literally everything much easier, from meal times to nap times and everything in between. It’s also made things just emotionally easier: instead of holding onto everything all day and then letting it all out in a torrent when he gets home, it kind of trickles back and forth between us throughout the day, and that’s an enormous stress reliever for everyone involved. Problems still exist, but it’s easier when two people carry something heavy than it is when one person tries to go it alone.
We’re a month away from our eighth wedding anniversary, which is more than a little crazy, and we’ve finally found ourselves in a place where we both (a) can afford and (b) can find childcare for dates again. We’re off to see Endgame this Friday, and we’ve been spending our Sunday nights cuddling on the couch while watching Game of Thrones (and then staying up WAY too late talking about our pet theories about the show). And then, of course, Saturday nights are for D&D and our stream (twitch.tv/mtnmama1, Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. EST), and all in all, it feels like we’re getting our lives back from the haze that was a year with two infants.
As for me, I’m still mostly kid-focused because these three take up a LOT of my energy. I used to joke, back before I Knew, that I’d do well with twins because Sam had the energy of two children, so ho ho ho, two kids wouldn’t be that bad. Now I know better. Now I know that at least once a day, usually more than, during the Witching Hour (5:00 in our house, a.k.a., dinner is cooking but not yet ready and in everyone’s stomach and we’ve all just realized that), all three kids will need to be On Me. And I love them, and I know someday, I’ll probably be sad that nobody wants to be On Me, but during the Witching Hour, when the twins are having slapfights on my lap and Sam is leaning against my back, it exhausts me.
There’s the chasing of the twins all day through the house, because even when you have every barrier and gate up, every outlet covered, every dangerous thing out of the way, your toddler will still find a way to get themselves in trouble. So you look down at your phone to read a news article or something and then you look up, and they’re smiling deviously at you as they begin performing feats of danger and daring and you’re back up again, chasing them around to get them to chill out and stop trying to break their bones for five seconds.
I love it. I absolutely love my days. But by the time I get to the end, even with a nice chunk of time taken out so the twins can nap, I’m beyond exhausted. And that frustrates me because I’d love to be able to settle down and write when the kids are all in bed, and I try to, but every time I try, I get about a paragraph in and end up stuck.
Writing is on hold for now, I suppose. I hate that, but it is what it is. I’m stuck unless I’m lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep, and then a scene will start writing itself in my head, and I end up at war with myself: do I get up and make sure this all ends up on paper or do I let myself sleep?
I let myself sleep. And maybe the words will come during the day again soon. I hope.
Is it strange that marriage has never much felt like work to me? I don’t know.
Whenever people talked about marriage being a lot of work, back before Kyle and I got married, I always assumed that it meant work in the overall American sense of the word, the stuff that you do because you have to, not because you want to. I imagined the work of marriage to be kind of like chain gang work, grumbling and muttering all the way to glory because we were married and we had to work at it.
But it’s never been like that for us.
Oh, there have been times when we had to put in conscious effort. Now is one of those times. Before kids, conscious effort wasn’t necessary, really, because although our lives didn’t revolve around each other, we liked spending time together and didn’t have to schedule that time ages in advance to make sure that we had babysitters or that the kids would be asleep and/or fed and/or fed and asleep. Date nights came about because one of us would say something like, “Hey, I don’t feel like cooking. Wanna do a $20 dinner for two at Chili’s?” and the other would respond, “Hells yeah, I need some cheese fries.”
Nowadays, it’s a bit more complex. We won’t be celebrating our anniversary by ourselves probably until this coming weekend because, well, three kids. Even a trip to Chili’s would be an Ordeal. And sometimes, we’re both tired enough by the end of the day and the end of the week that we don’t chat much, we just sort of collapse in front of our respective computers and zone out until it’s time for Kyle to sleep and for me to start my shift with the twins.
And so we have to put in effort and remind ourselves, “oh yeah, take that time to chat with your spouse,” but it doesn’t feel like work. It’s not a “have to do,” it’s a “want to do.”
In a way, it’s like self care, which people talk about a lot these days. Self care is making sure that you, yourself, are healthy; taking the time out of your schedule of focusing on work, family, hobbies, and so on, to make sure that your mind and body aren’t falling apart on you. Depending on how healthy you are, mentally and physically, self care can be a “have to do thing,” but I think a lot of folks see it as a “want to do thing” and that’s why it falls by the wayside.
…I lost my train of thought there.
I was trying to get at how the “work” of marriage doesn’t feel like work because Kyle and I really like each other. Still. After first meeting twelve years ago, getting dumb crushes on each other, me trying to shut him out because “I can’t see myself marrying you” (LMAO), him saying, “…okay, but can we still be all flirty with each other anyway?” (of course, I said yes to that), meeting in person and realizing that oh wait I could totally marry this guy, three years of long distance pining, the world’s least romantic proposal, two years of engagement and stressful living conditions, several drives across half the country, collectively years of unemployment, struggles with infertility and bills and the Nissan, and three kids… after all of that, we still REALLY like each other.
The shape of liking has changed somewhat, which is another place where I think a lot of people get tripped up.
When Kyle and I first met, it was all those butterflies and rushing feelings, heart pounding, googly eyes, happy sighs, and zingy excitement. It’s that biological attraction thing; if we were a couple of animals functioning only on base instinct, that zingy attraction, what we call puppy love, would’ve existed mostly to get us to reproduce, and then the hypothetical offspring would’ve either kept us together or at least gotten Kyle to bring me some food while I gestated and hibernated for the winter.
That feeling isn’t a permanent thing, and I don’t think it’s meant to be. And… honestly, I think I’m too tired for it at the moment, at least mentally. Parenting, especially of newborns, is very taxing on pretty much every level. You just reach the end of the day, whenever that may be (for me, it’s around 2:15-2:30 a.m.) and can’t even manage to string more than three words together, never mind muster up anything zingy.
(though I will say that I still swoon plenty of times–over Kyle’s forearms when he rolls up the sleeves of his flannel shirt, over his chest when he leaves enough of a shirt unbuttoned, over the way he laughs and turns to absolute mush around our kids…)
Overall, though, I’ve stopped feeling zingy and instead feel… safe, I suppose. Certain. Secure. It’s the feeling of pulling into your driveway after an exhausting commute, the feeling of your favorite pajamas on a rainy day, of the opening scenes of your all time favorite movie, driving along roads so familiar that you almost don’t need to look at them, the dish you always order at that one restaurant because they make it just the way you like.
It’s that feeling that as long as this is here, as long as I have this, everything will be alright in the end. As long as we’re together, we can weather anything the universe throws our way. We’re a team, not two people living in a house, but two legs carrying a body. If one of us succeeds, we both succeed; we pull for each other now and always.
When I see Kyle’s car pull into our driveway at the end of the day, I feel relieved and happy, not (only) because I’m excited for adult contact or for help with the kids, but because seeing him and being with him is right, just like it’s always been, and just like it always will be.
And it’s so NICE, you know? The last several years, I’ve had a hard time getting into stories and movies that focus on that zingy new relationship stuff, crushes and the like, because while that’s all nice and exciting, the loves that make me happier are the ones that have lasted a long time and remain solid and strong and unshakeable, to the point where there’s no villain who’d even try because what’s the point? This kind of love–not the zingy, new relationship energy stuff (though there’s nothing wrong with that!)–is the stuff that many waters can’t quench.
And I’ve been lucky enough to have it in my life for twelve years, and to have it in my marriage for seven. Happy anniversary, Sugar.
Every now and again, I get all cosmological about the passage of time. I’m 34 years old right now, but 17–technically half my life ago–seems like it was yesterday, and 40 seems a lifetime away. Time is such a weird, subjective thing, passing quickly or slowly but really, it’s all the same pace, no matter how it feels.
Which is all an “it’s the middle of the night and how do I words?” way of saying that the twins are somehow already a month old.
Probably because we spent two weeks of this month with them living away from us, it feels like it’s gone by very quickly. Probably also because we got into our shifts routine from the get-go instead of flailing for a month and then realizing, “Well, duh,” it’s been a lot less painful and far smoother than it was with Sam. And, of course, there are the added bonuses of me not being depressed, Kyle having six weeks of paternity leave, and the twins already being settled in a routine that Sam took a good three months to reach.
Still. A month.
The weirdest part about them being a month old is that they aren’t technically due to be born for another 11 days. Part of me can imagine how miserable that would be but the rest of me doesn’t want to.
See, Kyle has it all figured out. I’m completely miserable when I’m pregnant because my body is just too good at being pregnant. With these two miracles that were a one in a million chance (the odds are probably even crazier than that; I’ve told Kyle multiple times, we really need to get on playing the lottery), they drained my body of so much of what they needed that I just felt a disaster all the time. Everyone was super complimentary of their umbilical cords (literally the weirdest thing I’ve ever been complimented on, and yes, this includes the time an ultrasound tech called my cervix “beautiful” and the time a guy spent 20 minutes complimenting my butt instead of making my grilled cheese sandwich, like come on, guy, if you want my butt to stay hotter than heat, make me my freaking sandwich already), and Kyle looked at that and decided that my body grows babies very well. It’s just not very good at taking care of itself at the same time.
(this is Bella Swan being pregnant with a mutant half-vampire baby that’s eating her from the inside. It’s also a good idea of what I’m like when I’m pregnant)
So if I’d gone all the way to April 25, I’d be carrying not one but two huge babies (probably Sam’s size–8 lbs, 11 oz.–maybe more) and I’d probably have put myself on bedrest, which I hate doing, but I was miserable enough by the actual end of this pregnancy that I could barely go to the bathroom without pain, so life would’ve been terrible.
The “correct” thing to say about my pregnancy is “oh, I wish I’d been able to keep them in longer so they could’ve been healthier at birth,” but honestly? I don’t wish that at all. We were lucky as hell that things went as well as they did, but things did go well. The twins have always been wonderfully healthy, even in the NICU. They were born at good weights for their age, and I feel like if they’d stayed in longer, they wouldn’t have been as healthy. Everyone was running out of space, and I was running out of resources to give them.
(like I guess they could’ve taken my fat cells, I wouldn’t have complained about that, but I don’t know how nutritionally beneficial those are)
The “correct” thing is also to say that I wish I could’ve delivered them vaginally, but I… don’t? At all? I know that I probably could have delivered them vaginally, even with Carrie being breech, but I’m the oddball in the world who was so miserable beforehand that the C-section was actually a really positive experience. And that may be because I’d built it up in my mind to be this terrifying thing, but I can say with all honesty that it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d expected. Obviously, my experience isn’t universal, and I know I’d have thought differently if I hadn’t had the two weeks the twins were in the hospital to recover (like seriously, it’s all been nat 20s the way this worked out), but as it stands?
It’s the same with formula feeding, though I feel a little bolder talking about that one (because people are a great deal more understanding when you say, “well, they’re NICU babies so we need to keep strict track of how many calories they get, and also I have crappy production because my PCOS is a bitch like that”). I have good reasons for not breastfeeding, but I also have not “good” reasons, especially now that I know my babies.
Isaac would be a champion breastfeeder, honestly. He’s always got a good latch on his bottles (the Tommee Tippee ones we got because they’re boob-shaped), and he’s good at working for his food. He’s a quick eater, too, and is usually done within 10-15 minutes of starting, because, again, he works for his food. He ends up being the first on the feeding docket for that reason, and he also ends up with a lot of cuddle and playtime in between feedings because he finishes quickly.
Carrie, on the other hand, is… well, she’s a pokey feeder, pokey like slowpoke. She’s lazy about getting her food and prefers to suck juuuuuust enough to get the formula going and then kind of let it flow. This is a highly inefficient way of eating, so while she sometimes manages a quick feed, she’s usually working at it for 30-40 minutes and even then, not getting everything we make because she falls asleep and won’t open up again. So with her laziness, feeds end up taking well over an hour, and I can’t imagine how much more it would be if we were dealing with my supply issues and the boob wrestling that is breastfeeding.
A huge contributing factor in my postpartum depression four years ago was that my body still wasn’t mine, even after 10 miserable months of pregnancy. I love being Sam’s mom, and that was just as true back then, but when you’re spending the majority of your day just trying to get food into someone or pump food for later, it takes a toll. Being able to take a break, to put these two down, to ask Kyle or my mom to take a feed–that’s been so incredible. It allows me to spend more time with Sam, allows us to take shifts so that we’re not overtired, allows us to still be ourselves even with twins.
The twins are opposites, personality-wise, of what I’d have expected them to be based on their behavior when I was carrying them. Isaac is loud and flaily; if he has a problem, the whole house knows it. He rarely goes on an actual crying jag, just usually lets out a “AOUW” of anger if he’s unhappy with his circumstances (for reasons like “you’re changing my diaper instead of feeding me” or “I seem to have spit out my pacifier. Yes, the one you put in my mouth 30 seconds ago. Is that a problem?”), but it’s a loud AOUW. He also squirms a lot; he’s eager to be mobile and sitting up. This is only a problem if I’m changing him on the couch, which I had to do for a couple of weeks because my C-section scar hurt like the dickens if I changed him anywhere else. Otherwise, it’s just kind of hilarious because he gets himself into these positions like a husky, where you wonder, “how are you possibly comfortable like that?” but he seems content.
He also likes to be held. They both do, but Isaac is more curious about it, probably because he spent the first two weeks of his life being disinterested in the world beyond a bottle and sleeping. He quiets right down if I’m holding him, but he doesn’t like to rest on his tummy on my chest, instead preferring to be cradled in my arms. He’s come close to smiling already, which is a delight.
And Carrie… well, everything Isaac is, she isn’t. She doesn’t cry unless we’re changing her diaper because of the nasty diaper rash she developed (like… layers of skin missing nasty, because she poops so often that we can’t catch it in time to keep things from getting bad, but it’s healing well because Aquaphor, and remember when I used to talk about things like whether or not all literature is time-bound, because I do); otherwise, she just quietly fusses. She doesn’t like to burp the way Isaac does, so it becomes a challenge at mealtime to try and get her to let some gas out and keep eating. She’s quiet before a feed, looking around and watching everything, but having a full tummy makes her sleepy, and it’s rare that she’s really awake after she eats.
Which is when I put her on my chest, because while Isaac isn’t a fan, Carrie loves being beaned up and hearing my heartbeat. And I’ll be honest: I love it, too. She’s a little warm bundle that’s like a kitten but larger, and she lets out contented little sighs but is otherwise so quiet that she might as well be a little doll.
So that’s the twins. On Sam’s side of things, he’s adjusting better. Nights are the worst time for him–last night, he came downstairs 99% asleep because he had a nightmare that Kyle left and didn’t come back, which… yeah, the hospital stay really messed with him. I’m inclined to just let him sleep in our bed or downstairs with whomever is up with the twins until he reaches a point where he feels adjusted and not like he’s going to lose us at any given moment. This may be soft and squishy of me (and Kyle worries that he’ll just be sleeping in our bed forever), but… well, honestly, my brain is too overfull with twin care worries and Sam care worries to dive into strictly sending my terrified son back to his bed when he has a nightmare.
During the day, he’s at least improved his behavior somewhat. He’s become a great helper with the twins–he likes to figure out which one is crying and why and then solve that problem. He still hasn’t held them, and I can tell he’s nervous about it, probably because he knows it means sitting still and he’s not very good at that. BUT he’s really affectionate with them otherwise: lots of kisses, lots of tickles, and he holds their hands when they’re out of the cribs and crying. He’s also moved back towards his usual level of potty trained (ie., will go when we remind him and sometimes when we don’t), and everyone is relieved about that.
Kyle and I are almost literally ships in the night, but we steal moments when we can. My mom came by to watch the three kids (I have three kids and that’s weird because a month ago, I just had one) so Kyle and I could go out on our own. And it was nice, and somehow, despite the stresses of having three kids out of nowhere and me recuperating from a C-section and having three kids and two of them are infants and one is an almost-four-year-old who’s having separation anxiety, we still rather like each other.
I reminded him the other day that, as stressful as this first chunk of time is, it’s going by very quickly. The twins are a month old now; that means they’re that much closer to sleeping through the night, to graduating from formula to real food, to communicating in ways that aren’t crying. And while I don’t hate the newborn stage, especially with them being such good babies, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next: what kind of babies and toddlers and kids will they be? Will they get along with Sam and with each other? What comes next?
(annnnnnd now I’m going to sing all of Hamilton to nobody)
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.
(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.
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 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?
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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…
…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.