25 July, 2010

Whose Life is This Anyway?

He did not put any cake on me because he is a very nice man.
I'll admit, I thought being married would be easier.

In this day and age I thought that gender boundaries would have been quashed. I thought, that since I had clearly married the most romantic and kind man in the world that the sparks that flew in the beginning would be only the base for the fire of our life and that the sweet man I chose would never have a mean thing to say. I thought I would always, and in every way find him charming.

I knew we were better together than separate, and that once together we would be unstoppable in our careers, our travels and our desire to have adventure and novelty. Upon meeting us, I was certain I would continue to hear from new friends what an amazing couple we were.

And having found such an amazing guy from such a solid family,  it never occurred to me that parenting would be anything but joy and pride, with the brilliant little offspring we would create. Our children would be perfect, and well-mannered, and their successes would only bring Descartes and I closer and closer together. Our family would be a vision of success, and happiness. Our parents would be so proud.

yes, I DO have red hair in these photos
I thought I would always be a loving and caring wife, who thrilled at pleasing my spouse.  I thought I was perfectly suited to being married to this man, and when we smiled at each other throughout the entire ceremony I truly thought I would always be that happy. The optimism that surrounded us like a rosy bubble of delight could never be burst, and the people we added to our life would only be more successful and wonderful than we are.


Our life is so very different than I imagined, and yet we are so much better than those people I thought we would be. Our marriage is so much more real, and raw, and I love my husband so much more deeply than I ever thought I would.

And we are much better together than apart; Descartes and I know each other now. After 12 years we really do know each other, but thankfully we are still learning too; what it looks like to truly support someone in their life and career, how to care for each other when we are both in despair. What we have learned is that we travel well, and we're not scared of really anything when we are together.  Between the two of us, with his strength and my map reading skills, we can get out of almost anything, or into anything, like this cross-country adventure we are almost done planning.

We like each other too. Even when we don't get along, we are good roommates, except for the dishes, which apparently no one wants to do, and we continue to negotiate after 14 years of living together.  I genuinely like my husband, a lot. I think he's funny and smart, and handsome. And the way he builds things, and knows things is amazing to me. Just this morning, he 'hacked' a camera, breaking in somehow and changing lines of code so it would do what we want it to do-- the only obstacle he faced was our four year old daughter sitting on his head.

I'm not as 'nice' as I used to be. I don't think I was ever nice actually. I think I've always had a dark sense of humor and a bit of a snarky streak, but I used to have more optimism. I used to track fewer things, so it was easier for me to remember what is actually important. And I'm sure I am not easy to live with because I demand that you read my mind and prioritize life in the exact same way I do.  I think I am more demanding, but perhaps that happens to many people as they age and know better what they want from life. Descartes is a patient man, tolerant of my drama, but he's figured out how to bust me out of my perseverations, and move our family on to better things.

Parenting has done more to strengthen this marriage than just about anything else. Holding hands during a sonogram while we wait to see if Lucy was growing with all of her parts in the right places, holding each other in a parking lot when we got Jake's first batch of diagnosis from the first official place, helping each other through 52 days of Jake not sleeping, taking turns swinging him or driving, trying to not to yell at each other or our child. Many couples have a few months, maybe a year of disturbed sleep patterns, then they can look back and laugh. We have a life where hard things happen often, but we have learned not to wait to laugh; or at least we try. I think many big, sad things are behind us, and as much as I am rather pragmatic these days, I think I may be coming out of my pessimistic days. Descartes has just been waiting for me, patiently, ever the realist with the ability to take stock, reassess and move on.

I know that my life would be different had I chosen someone else to marry, if someone else had chosen me, but I am so glad Descartes and I chose each other, and that we have this life. I know it's not all perfect. But I think our parents are still proud of us, and I'm pretty sure Jake and Lucy will grow up to be decent human beings under our watch, so at least we know we've maintained one small piece of continuity in this world.

I love you my precious husband. 
Thank you so much for another year of life, this wonderful life with you. 

p.s. please consider this your anniversary card. I was not able to get to the store.

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