Tag Archives: anniversary

Beyond Obligation

He has been contractually obligated to love me for 19 years. And I him.

Half my life. My entire adulthood tied up in another person. And his in me.

There are times past and will be times future when duty must override feeling. The selfish whims, the natural drift, the impulse to escape and countless other sleep-deprived, frustrated, overwhelmed miseries life inevitably brings. We hash out problems and overcome obstacles and treat each other well because we must. Because there is no other option we’ll consider.

Which is more romantic than it sounds.

Although we are tethered by both legal documents and sacred vows, these are not what keeps us together in the long run. It’s the things we choose to share. The jokes, the plans, the goals, the memories, the passions, the understandings, even the troubles.

I’m my own person. He’s his own person. But there’s an overlap, an US, that makes life so much more than it would be otherwise.

He’s different from the man I married at 19. God knows, I’m different than the optimistic kid he married. Somehow we’ve managed to grow and change ourselves without compromising US. People ask us about it – what’s the secret to a long, happy marriage – and I’m never sure of an answer. Maybe there isn’t just one. There’s no magical compatibility like in the movies. There’s no process or technique that guarantees success. There’s just two human beings doing the best they can, and praying it’s enough.

We date. We talk. We fight. We hide under the covers and wish the morning away. We debate. We make love. We tease. We laugh. A lot.

At first we “fell” in love and it was easy. Then we “vowed” to love forever and it was expensive. Now we “live” our love every single day and it is the best and hardest thing to do.

I have been in love with him for 19 years. And he with me.

The best part of my life is OUR life.

Happy Anniversary!

Yes - those are hockey sticks. How Canadian.

Yes – those are hockey sticks. How Canadian!

So here’s us.

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18 Years of Best and Worst

You greeted me this morning with “By the way…” then gave me a passionate kiss.

My hands were full of dirty laundry. My heart was pounding frantically as I rushed to get us all out the door for an early morning dr’s appointment. My mind was overflowing with forms to finish and children to dress and snacks to pack. My hair was a frizzy mess. My glasses askew. My eyes still gritty with sleep.

I wasn’t my best me.

I’ll admit, my first reaction wasn’t entirely positive. I’m not a morning person. I have tunnel vision when I’m in a hurry. And I don’t like to be interrupted at the best of times. Which is why we don’t usually make out in the hallway in the middle of the morning rush.

As you grabbed me, I thought “What the…” As you leaned in, I thought “Really?!” I may have even growled under my breath.

I have so much to do. All the time. Most of it is important, or at least seems important at the time. And it never stops. Not when you get home from work. Not after “bedtime.” Not on summer holidays. I don’t get it all done. I don’t even try most days. But it’s always there, hanging over my head.

This is a particularly busy season of life. For people who once enjoyed sleeping in, lazy days and reading for hours, the past decade has been an adjustment. We’re often snappy and overwhelmed. We’re usually sticky and smelly. And we’re almost always exhausted.

We’re not our best us.

We’re parents. Parents of young children, at that. This isn’t a crisis or a problem, or even a surprise. This is just the way life goes. It’s easy to get stuck in survival mode.

But I kissed you back, in the middle of the chaos, and by the end I was smiling.

Because you are still so good at that! It wasn’t something I thought I needed or wanted right then, but, boy, was I wrong. It’s one of those important things, that doesn’t seem urgent, but probably is.

Sometimes I forget to kiss you. Or hold your hand. Or tell you the ways you are wonderful.

That just won’t do. This year, I promise to kiss you every time you leave me and every time you return. Because “being us,” even in the middle of chaos, is a habit worth pursuing. We need it more than ever these days.

18 years ago today we promised to love each other, at our best AND at our worst.

Not just when it’s expected. Or easy. Or convenient.

We have some pretty great moments – romantic moments, life-affirming-can-you-believe-how-awesome-our-family-is moments, inside joke/kindred spirit moments, laugh-until-we-cry moments… but I think it’s the not-so-easy ones that matter the most.

This is when I know you love all of me, the parts that aren’t so pretty or so fun (or so rational if I’m honest). Not in the gushy, I just-FEEL-so-loving-towards-you way… but in the I’ll-stick-around-and-won’t-just-take-your-crap-and-will-hash-it-out-and-forgive-and-apologize-and-hug-you-anyway.

And I love you that way too!

For Better or For Worse.

Happy Anniversary to the best man I know!

xoxo

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Homecoming Day

A year seems like a long time. 20130618-153034.jpg

I was pretty sure we’d have you ALL figured out by now. You, and adoption, and parenting a boy, and adding number 4 to the mix. Oh, and life. I had planned to have it ALL figured out by now.

It’s not like we’re completely in the dark. I’ve got a few more pearls of wisdom tucked away these days.

Things like…

Keep a Kleenex handy at all times.

A kerchief around the neck is a great “look” (and unobtrusively collects drool).

When the Kleenex runs out, use the inside of a shirt.

Child locks only work for other people.

See also: keeping things up high.

Boys climb – anything, everything, all the time.

Snot trails on a shirt are a badge of honour.

The big sister honeymoon period lasts 3-6 months depending on age and frequency of iPod-chucking-down-the-stairs-incidents.

Keep extra toothbrushes on hand for inevitable toilet/garbage/”helping” scrub the floor moments.

Thomas the Train is quite possibly the stupidest, most mind-numbingly boring children’s show. Ever.

Sesame Street never goes out of style.

A year ago today, we grabbed our brand new diaper bag, a newly installed car seat and every ounce of courage we could muster as we headed down the road to pick up our son and bring him home for good.

The past month had been an emotional whirlwind. A tentative dance toward parenthood – part courtship, part boot camp; strangely wonderful and scary, with gusts to surreal. Of all the different kinds of crazy we’ve been through, this counts as the most overwhelming time of our lives. And we had a good experience – better than most.

We fell in love with you immediately. You fell in love with your new Daddy, and you eventually tolerated me. But even that was a good sign – you were solidly attached to your foster family.

That made this day even harder, though we knew that your healthy bond with them gave you the capacity to build the same with us. But not right away. Not without time and work and a bittersweet goodbye.

I can’t put into words how much we relied on Sally (foster mom) to help us through. This wasn’t her first rodeo. She helped us navigate the handoff.

Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it real, but hopeful.

So with teary eyes and brave smiles they said goodbye.

With teary eyes and grateful smiles we said…

Welcome Home!

So here’s us, one year down… fifty to go. Can’t imagine life without our boy!

Memory Box

When I was 16…

Twenty years ago, the boy I had a huge crush on took me on my very first date. Turns out, it was my only ‘first date’. Because sometimes one is all you need.

When I was 16…

you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir. You told me you had a question for me, but you kept changing the subject and clearing your throat. We talked about exams and schoolwork. We talked about our friends. We talked about the gifts we had gotten at Christmas. We talked about the weather, for Pete’s sake. I wondered if you were ever going to get to the point. Finally, as we turned towards home you blurted out “doyouwantogooutwithme?”

Of course I said “YES!” and then tried desperately to act cool about the whole thing.

When I was 18, you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir after dinner. You put your suit jacket over my shoulders to keep me warm. You were fidgety and nervous. I wondered what was wrong with you. You got down on one knee, right in the snow, and blurted out “willyoumarryme?”.

I think there was some stuff about how much you loved me et cetera… but I was crying and laughing and entirely giving up any pretense of coolness, so I don’t really remember.

When I was 16…

you reached over and took my hand for the first time. It was a bit awkward. We hadn’t figured out how to fit our fingers together just right, but you didn’t let go all the way back home.

When I was 23, you held my hand while we waited for the results of the pregnancy test. You held my hand in the hospital waiting room. You held my hand when the doctors told us our baby had died, and during labour and delivery. You held my hand when they took him away. You didn’t let go, not then and not through the sad, sad months to come.

You held my hand through 4 more children. Two girls, another stillborn baby boy, and our youngest who came one month early with a little extra in the DNA department.

Our hands fit together perfectly now; we don’t even have to think about it.

When I was 16…

we played Monopoly and you tried to slip me money so that I would win. You crushed me. I was embarrassed because I wanted you to think I was smart and capable, and because I really, really like to win.

When I was 30, we started family games night. Candyland, then Trouble and Sorry, eventually chess, Scrabble and Monopoly. You help the girls here and there, you give them tips, but we don’t let them win every game. It’s more fun that way, a real challenge. Because we all really, really like to win.

When I was 16…

we went to A&W for dinner, then to see Beauty and the Beast in the theatre. I was skeptical that anything could compete with Little Mermaid. We shared popcorn, and halfway through the movie you put your arm around me in one quick, smooth motion, and then let out a sigh of relief.

You were so cute! I couldn’t believe how fun this dating thing was turning out to be.

When I was 36, you took me to A&W for dinner, then to the movies for our 20 year “anniversary”. Beauty and the Beast 3D was playing and that seemed romantic, but we decided to see Sherlock Holmes instead. We’ve seen enough kids movies to last 3 lifetimes. I ate all the popcorn and you drank a huge pop. You had to go to the bathroom 3 times and I teased you mercilessly about it.

We still laugh and act like teenagers when we are on a date. I have more fun with you than anyone else.

When I was 16…

you walked me to the LRT station. I leaned in to hug you and you stole your first kiss. I was shocked. Church girls like me didn’t expect that on a first date. But you were worldly and wild like that.

When I was 22, you decided you wanted to serve God with your life. Your family thought we were crazy. Mine thought we were saints. They were both wrong. I knew our life wouldn’t be normal or easy; it wasn’t what I expected. But you were brave and devoted like that.

Now we live in the real world, and that ministry life is a memory. We’ve learned a lot since then. And the kissing has just gotten better and better.

When I was 16…

we had our first fight. My friend Claire and I smoked a cigarette in the alley behind my house. The next week I drank half a pitcher of real margaritas at a restaurant and got a little tipsy. You were appalled when you found out. You wondered who I was. I called you a stuffed shirt.

When I was 19, we had our first married fight – day one of our honeymoon, at the breakfast table. I ordered Eggs Benedict and you had the pancakes platter. I snagged a piece of bacon and popped it in my mouth. You looked at me like I had kicked your puppy. Apparently, you do not share food. This has not changed.

But you’ve shared everything else with me for the past 20 years, so I’m not going to complain. You can have all the bacon.

I picked the best man in the world when I was 16. I let you think it was all your idea, but I knew what I wanted. And I really, really like to win.

So here’s me, SO incredibly grateful that I got to grow up with you by my side.


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