The Road to Now

A few weeks ago, I snuck off with zero children to a coffee shop (ok, the Starbucks cafe at Target) and wrote. It’s a thing I do every once in a while, when the stars align and the boys are being good, and the baby naps early in the day, and I’m actually feeling like writing, and Brien has the time. He jokingly asked if I was going to write him a love letter. And I thought well, since the end of July marked our FIFTEENTH anniversary, I could try to pull something together.

I’m currently filling out this book for him, which was supposed to be a birthday present (February) and then an anniversary present (a month ago) and I just finished it because that’s a heck of a lot of things to come up with, no matter how much you love someone. But the questions in the book have really got me digging into my memories of us as a young couple, unmarried, in college. Then married. Then moving to California. Then having babies. Then buying a house and moving to Arizona. Then having another baby. And all the small things in between. It’s been quite a journey.

We have been through a hell of a lot together. Some really low times. And I mean LOW. Like, losing a baby to miscarriage low. Like me being in rehab low. Like me living a life that warranted a stay in rehab low. Like me getting a cancer diagnosis low. Like losing friends and family to horrible accidents and diseases low. Like weathering the storm of a special needs kid low. And we always, somehow, seem to come back together afterward, as strong as before, if not stronger.

Our first apartment was the size of our current dining room. I’m not even exaggerating. I dug up an old photo.

the old place

The only thing you can’t see here is the tiny kitchen to the right, with tiny, miniature appliances along the wall and no counter space. We spent our first year as a couple in this comically small apartment. We moved in together after only 5 months of dating. It was an insane decision, honestly, looking back. But, he had been subletting my apartment for me for the summer while I worked and lived at an amusement park a few hours away. At the end of the summer, I asked if he’d just like to stay. We felt really comfortable together and things were going well, so we moved in together. In a studio apartment. A tiny one.

We fought sometimes. All couples fight. But when we fought, it was either sit and deal with it and don’t go to bed until things are resolved, or truck your butt into the dark and the cold and the snow, and hope your car starts, and go who even knows where because we were both flat broke. So, sit and deal with it we did. I mean, I guess one could have holed oneself up in the 6 square foot bathroom if one wanted to, but not without looking ridiculous and getting a little claustrophobic.

I think that tiny apartment taught us a lot about relationships. About compromise. About resolving issues before they cause huge rifts. We have watched a lot of couples around us go their separate ways. And I know full well that sometimes a divorce really is what’s best for everyone involved. The statistics are pretty depressing, though, and I often wonder if we’ll be able to escape what feels inevitable. After 15 years, and a lot of bumps along the way, things still feel strong. Steadfast.

My love letter to him is just this: thank you for staying.

There have been plenty of opportunities for us to call it quits. I think neither of us could imagine getting by without the other. We have a very symbiotic relationship. But, things have been thrown in between us that were definitely difficult to move past.

He has seen me at my absolute worst. My lowest moments. I said and did a lot of horrible things when I was stuck in a slimy web of anxiety, depression, addiction and emotional baggage. But, he did not give up on me, and he did not leave me behind. He stayed. It was touch and go for a while, but he stayed. And for that I am forever grateful.

He has also been a great father to the three amazing children we created together. He’s always there to step in when I need help, or when I just need a break. There’s been zero reference to “babysitting” when he’s with them. He is their father. My co-parent. My partner in all things.

We are not perfect people. We have disagreements, petty and otherwise. We make mistakes. We still face problems and struggles. But I feel truly like we face them together. It has always been like that. Our relationship faced a lot of opposition in the beginning, but we stood there tall and proud and united, and now it’s been 15 years and I can’t imagine handling life any other way.

For everything you are, and everything you are not, I love you Brien. Here’s to the next 15.

wedding

Silk or Linen

When I look back at myself at 24, I see a naive, doe-eyed, Disney Princess of a child. So sure she had all the answers. So sure adulthood was going to be a breeze. So sure that there were no wrong life choices to be made. And somebody let me get married!

He was just as wide-eyed and princess-like as I was. And in the first few years of our marriage, it was more us clinging to each other for dear life than really embracing each other in holy matrimony. Adulthood came at us fast. And never quit.

Adulthood has changed us so deeply and in so many different ways. And in the past 5 years, our relationship has endured tests that many other couples don’t survive even one of. I don’t even know how we made it through the past year. Except that I do know.

Over the years, the clinging for dear life has turned to you support me now, I’ll support you later. With my husband doing so much of the supporting in recent years, but refusing to keep score. I look back at his patience, kindness and determination to see me happy, healthy and successful, and that’s how I know he really loves me.

Rather than turn and run when things got sad or hard or felt impossible, he stayed. I stayed. We faced it head on. Together. Twelve years doesn’t seem like enough years to house the lifetime we’ve lived together. I love you so much, Brien. Happy anniversary.

 

Friday Digest

These quickie lists have become sort of my thang for Fridays. I have to come up with some clever title/category for them. Ideas?

1. I’m excited to get caught up in fashion when I’m out of maternity wear. For one thing, I’m very optimistic about my post-baby weight loss. Being on the diabetic diet has helped me stay at a nice, healthy pregnancy weight, and while baby continues to grow, my weight dropped a little, and is now hovering in the area of 160, just 10 measly pounds over where I was before I got pregnant. The OB wasn’t all too happy about my weight at my checkup, but as long as the little man’s doing fine, I’m not going to change my routine. I can’t really do anything differently anyway, I’m not eating any less, just less of the stuff they TOLD me to eat less of! Ok, and also, I spent the year before I got pregnant either thinking I’d be pregnant or feeling pretty depressed, and deciding what to wear everyday was such an afterthought. One of the three pairs of jeans that fit me, a plain t-shirt, a plain sweatshirt, and my Sauconys. Every day. So, I’m excited to break that mold. Experiment with color. Get exciting. And since nothing I owned before will fit me anyway: SHOPPING! I won’t be able to go crazy or anything but, SHOPPING!

2. Yesterday was our 9th wedding anniversary (holla!). Since both of our babysitters recently relocated, and because we’re not super on the ball about making plans ahead of time, we pretty well resigned ourselves to the fact that Bowie would be accompanying us if we decided to go out to dinner. We made reservations at a semi-fancy place, and prepared Bowie for it in the morning. “We’re going to have dinner at a fancy restaurant because today is the day mommy and daddy got married. It’s our ann-i-ver-sary.” He was very excited and chatty about it all the way to school that morning. And, our usual routine at school is to grab a book and get cozy and read it until it’s time to sign in and sing welcome songs. When we got to school he made a mad dash for a “special book”, searching the many bookshelves that dot the whole building, finally finding the book he wanted. It was Froggy Eats Out, which is not only about a little froggy who goes out to eat at a fancy restaurant, but it’s also this froggy’s parents’ anniversary. What?! My kid is so smart and cute, you guys. And he was a (mostly) perfect little angel, and we all had a great dinner. He “dressed up” in his favorite shirt from Hawaii and he even got his own glass tumbler of juice, which was just a little bit too cute. Exhibit A:

3. I’m starting to have those “what was I thinking?!” moments of pregnancy, thinking about the near future. Not in any way like I wish I weren’t pregnant or anything like that, but just, you know, what was I thinking?! I remember having those thoughts with Bowie too. What have I done to our marriage? What have I done to the pets? Will life ever be as simple and carefree as before? (Hints: Improved it. Nothing. No, but you won’t care.) I know it’s just regular old cold feet, but I need those thoughts to just skee-daddle already, I don’t need any extra anxiety right now. No, I really don’t.

4. Today was Bowie’s final therapy session. We might do what the therapist called a “refresher” right after school starts, but he’s pretty well done. It seems like it went so fast, but then I remember we started this whole process back in April. Well, late February if you want to count the first time we met with the teachers about it. Of course he still has his moments, but there have been improvements by leaps and bounds. Today at school, I got to witness him enter into a sensitive situation (another kid got too close for Bowie’s comfort) and raise his hand to act out violently, and then change his mind and not follow through. One of the biggest exhales of my life. His newest challenge is allowing the adults to deal with a peer who is not following the rules. He’s been extremely sensitive to it lately, and the therapist says it’s just because he’s aware now that he’s trying so hard to stay in line, and he doesn’t get why everyone else can’t do that too. Makes sense. But still, another hurdle to overcome.

5. Today was the last day of summer school. Regular school starts back up again August 22. I am 33 weeks pregnant and will be alone with a 4 year old for the next 3 1/2 weeks. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Have a fantastic weekend!

50

A very happy 50th anniversary to my favorite film. The anniversary was actually yesterday, but my blog’s server was down all day. Better late then never. Enjoy this great moment in cinematic history:

Wordy Wednesday

This post was originally called “Tidbit Tuesday”, but I got lazy last night and forgot to finish it. I’m also on a bit of an alliteration kick lately. Anyway, here goes:

1. A gentle reminder that there are just 2.5 days left to vote for Very Bloggy to be named one of Circle of Moms Top 25 SF Bay Area Mom Blogs! You can vote once every 24 hours. Please tell your friends! I’d love to be at 160 votes when all is said and done. Thank you!

2. Yesterday was our 8th wedding anniversary, thanks for all who wished us well on Twitter and Facebook, it was a good day. We are having a special dinner out this Friday at one of our favorite non-kid-friendly restaurants. And, huz got a new laptop, giving me his old (but not very old at all and in great shape) one. Great anniversary gift. Not bronze, but oh well, I’ll take it anyway.

3. My garden is going crazy! But, I have some slugs and caterpillars attacking my lovely cauliflower plants. Any tried-and-true natural methods for keeping them at bay? Also, there’s a lot of those beetle-type bugs with the pincers on their butts. What is up with those things, and are they eating the plants, or just hiding out in them? Also, what are your best kale recipes? I have more than I know what to do with, but I love growing it, so I just keep on planting it, haha.

4. Also need some advice on transitioning the kiddo from sippy cups to regular cups. He can drink from a regular cup, but when I give him one, it becomes more of a toy than a beverage vehicle, and it’s been…messy. Those old school Tupperware cups with lids we had when we were kids would be perfect. Do they still make something like that? Since they’re “retro” now, they’re not exactly cost effective.

5. The child has been going through some kind of crazy growth spurt lately. He’s drinking milk like a fish. If fish drank milk. And he’s sleeping late in the morning. And he’s been very crabby (and by crabby, I mean wretched). And guess what? He now needs a whole new set of pants in size 4T, but they’re very hard to track down because it’s summertime. Oh well, it will be back-to-school time soon enough, and all the stores will be loaded with pants. In the meantime, he’ll be prepared for a flood.

6. BUT, kiddo bonus, he’s like THISCLOSE to mastering the whole potty thing, and just in time for his return to preschool in about 4 weeks (4 weeks to go still?! GAH). Hopefully it doesn’t set him back. I am kind of enjoying not having to buy Pull-Ups every 3 days.

Happy hump day.

An Anniversary of Sorts

Today marks 5 years since my initial salmonella infection. FIVE whole years, but it still feels like it was just last week.

It was such an ordeal. Such a life-changing event. To put it into perspective, 5 years ago today, I first got ill. But, it would be mid to late July, when the arthritis first started showing up, before I would get an accurate diagnosis. And even then, the ordeal wasn’t over. There was still physical therapy, cortisone shots, migraines from arthritis medication and hardly being able to stomach anything for months.

A lot of people don’t understand why it still bothers me. Why I still think about it every single day. For one thing, I still have arthritis in my knee, and my gut still hates everything I eat. So, there’s that.

But also, someone out there is responsible for making this happen to me. And it’s nearly impossible to track that person down. No one ever has to say they’re sorry to me. After the worst thing you ever go through, an apology is a pretty big deal. Acknowledgement that what happened to you was wrong and unfair.

As I searched for a picture to attach to this post, it really struck me: I was just going about my daily life, doing my thing, and then BAM! Out of nowhere, I get a horrible, debilitating illness that would leave me forever changed.

My father-in-law once joked that I talked about the timeline of my life in terms of B.S. and A.S. : Before Salmonella and After Salmonella. But, there is some truth to that. What happened to me that fateful day in 2006 set of a chain of events that would change my life for good. Nothing is the same as it was.

It even comes down to my decision to have children (at the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted them or not). I almost died. I asked myself, what would I have regretted not doing had I died from this? Top of my list: not having children.

So, why can’t I stop talking about it or thinking about it? Because it’s become a part of my identity, a fundamental part of what makes me, me. I hope someday I can let it go, and stop annoying the crap out of my family and friends. But today, 5 years later, it’s still a sore spot.

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