Category Archives: Marriage

A funny thing happened

We used to own goldfish. There were two of them, Swimmy and Splashy, and they lived in an old television that we stuffed with a fish tank and placed over our kitchen sink.

I know this because I wrote about them in a poem. I know about the poem because I found it today, while sorting through some of my portfolios from back when I was a creative writing major who wrote poems about things like goldfish.

But here’s the funny thing: neither Mitch nor I remember the goldfish. A dim, blinking light in the back of my memory confirms something about the television fish tank but little about the fish themselves (though presumably, they were gold). I don’t remember feeding them; I’m guessing that they died.

Maybe it’s my impending class reunion, or perhaps the second glass I’ve wine I’m working on now, but I’m a bit sad that we had so completely forgotten that detail about our first years of marriage. What else have we forgotten? I’m sure there are things that didn’t merit a poem that we don’t remember and so don’t miss. (Some of them did get a poem, but I’m still perplexed about the event that inspired it. For example, I found one titled “On the Way to Your Wedding,” but I have no idea whose wedding we were en route to.)

I’ll take a happy stance here, though, and suggest that so many good things have filled our memories over the course of the last eight years that there’s hardly space for remembering two simply named fish. We’ve lived in many small spaces with quirky neighbors and haphazard decor. We’ve made meals, hosted parties, taken up hobbies (and dropped them), lost objects, purchased new ones and seen friendships ebb and flow.

These years have been full, and they have been sweet. If I’m sorry to lose the memory of certain seasons, it’s a comfort to know that the ones I do remember are lovely, and the ones that I’ve forgotten aren’t gone. They may not be tucked away in an accordian file of old poetry, but someone does remember them, and He will remind me of them when they’re needed.

I keep a notebook

I keep a notebook of the quirky or memorable things that Lydia says clipped to the fridge with a magnet. Every few days or so, she gives me something to add to it (most recently, “It’s not time for eating people!”), but I’m realizing that, really, Mitch deserves his very own notebook.

From the early days of our marriage, he has won my heart over again and again with his charming misuse of idioms. For example, he said “peachy king” for years, instead of “peachy keen,” until his mean-spirited English major of a wife came along and corrected him.

Instead of “voluptuous,” he said “volumptuous,” a change that we both agreed was an improvement and have permanently adopted. (Imagine our delight when Gloria made the same mistake on Modern Family!)

There are many, many more examples that are even better than those, but I have tragically forgotten them. Because I did not write them down.

For a while, I thought that we’d reached the end of the misuses: perhaps we’d been married long enough that all of  them had been outed and corrected, but the other night, he did it again: while discussing something serious and probably stressful, he unintentionally lightened the mood by saying, “Well, we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.”

I giggled, and could not stop giggling for the longest time, but when I did, I wrote it down. In my notebook.

Eight years

Eight years.

That’s almost a decade.  That’s closer to ten years than to five. When I was sixteen, eight years was half of my life, and when I was eight, well – eight years was everything.

Depending on what you’re measuring, eight years can be a small eternity (if you spend it all in college), or no time at all (for living, say, it isn’t nearly enough). But when you’re counting the years spent married to a wonderful man, eight is a beautiful number.

(Of course, I do hope the numbers keep climbing.)

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Mitch! You’re the bestest.

(Photo credit: Ben Bender)

An unexpected return to blogging

The tree is up. The baby is sleeping. The soup is on, and I, my friends, am back.

Of course, I don’t assume that you’ve waited around here for two years, on the off chance  that I might come back, but just in case you have, I owe you an explanation.

When I signed off two years ago, I did so because I wanted to use what little free time I had to write stories, and for a while there, I did just that. Hey, I even started work on a children’s book. But just as I got into a good writing routine (any experienced mother could have seen this coming), my daughter dropped a nap.

And then Christmas rolled around.

And then I got pregnant. Remember? “The baby is sleeping”? Surely, you didn’t think that I still call my two-year-old “the baby,” did you? Because I didn’t mean that baby.

I meant this one:

Meet Sarah Charlotte. In all of the events of the last two years, her arrival is the one most worth mentioning. We named her in memory of a good friend of ours, and at three months, she’s a bubbly, content, snuggly little baby, whose smile is so sudden and so gleeful that it more than makes up for all of the dirty diapers, late nights and soggy clothes that arrived with her.

Can you tell? We kinda like her.

Also worth mentioning is Lydia: she’s two-and-a-half now, and what a quirky, curly-haired, joyful little girl she is. She keeps me busy, but wonderfully so, singing and reading stories and making imaginary phone calls to people that she loves, and she’s prone to saying those unexpected but delightful things that I believe are called “the darndest things”, like the time she marched up to me at a dinner party and commanded, “Mommy, wiggle your hips!,” while shaking her booty for all it was worth.

She’s a stellar big sister, too. I mean, do you see what she puts up with?

One more thing worth mentioning: next week, Mitch and I celebrate our eighth anniversary. Eight years! We’ve survived college (twice!), a shag-carpeted studio apartment, life in the county, two years without a bath tub, The Mustache*, and now, the entrance of two little girls, with whom we are smitten and exasperated in turns. It’s a good life.

So, you’re more or less caught up. Now, what can you expect from me? I really don’t know. I thought about starting a whole new blog, but I didn’t want to. I like this one, with it’s birdie banner and long, personal history. I thought about going all topical on you and writing about books or food or Christianity, but I didn’t want to. I want to just tell you about things as they come.

And I warn you: posts may not come to me regularly. I am, after all, writing to you now with one child out of the house and one in the bouncy seat at my feet, cooing, and moments like this don’t come all that often. But bear with me, if you want to. When the posts and the moments come together, I’ll share them with you, I promise.

*I actually didn’t mind The Mustache, but found it amusing when people assumed that I did. If that meant that they saw me as particularly forbearing and supportive, well, I didn’t mind that either.

From scratch

In high school, I had lofty ambitions. I dreamed of rock bands and tour buses, late nights and songs written on a napkin stained with coffee in a town I would forget. I considered a career as a tattoo artist, as a plain old regular artist, as a writer of heartbreaking fiction populated by girls wearing lots of black eyeliner and boots.

In college, my hopes expanded to include organic farms and roadside vegetable stands and my new husband, who would plant the garden and help me raise chickens in the backyard. We would eat fresh eggs for breakfast with black coffee and tomatoes plucked from the garden that morning. I would write in a sun room, revelling in the heat on a rare hot day, surrounded by flecks of dust that sparkled strangely in the sun, looking a little like mist or smoke.

There would be houseplants. We would have babies.

Now, my dreams are of a simpler, sweeter breed. They are wrapped up in this moment, where I make my own bread and granola and stay home with my baby and pray in the mornings. Every year I try to plant an herb garden and every year, to some degree, I fail, but still I have one rosemary plant that hangs on and from it I make fresh rosemary lemonade or rosemary bread that does not rise.

I meet my husband at work at the end of the day and we walk home together, our baby tucked up against one of our chests in a carrier, sleeping soundly.

None of this is perfect, but it is good.

We still hope for gardens and chickens and sun rooms, but we do not move toward some envisioned point, shining but obscured by the future. Instead, we rest in these moments, knowing that this is where God has placed us and wherever he sends us next will be better, not because we deserve it, not because it won’t be difficult, but because he is with us, shoring us up on either side and leading us boldly on.

Has it been ten years already?

Of course, it’s been ten years. If it had been nine years, or eleven, we wouldn’t have received an invitation by mail for Mitch’s ten-year high school reunion, right? But we did, so one can only assume that ten years has actually passed since Mitch graduated, that year of commando missions and swimming at the lake by night and band practice in the garage and drama.

Ah, the drama.

Fortunately, Mitch and I went to the same high school (his senior year was my freshman), so I won’t be at a loss for folks to socialize with. A few classmates dropped by the other night for beer and burritos, and of course the yearbook was unearthed and the pages, sodden with signatures, were turned as we looked for forgotten names and remembered faces and told the same worn stories again and again. This was, we joked, the “reunion pre-game show.” We were doing our homework.

And so, tomorrow night we will take off for our first sans-baby evening since that fateful Mothers’ Day, I in my high-heeled shoes and Mitch in his slacks and best tie. We will eat dinner, drink cocktails, do adult things! Remember those? Things that don’t involve spit up or diapers or sweet baby smiles or cooing or snuggling or…

I am understandably apprehensive about this. Excited. But apprehensive.

Tonight Mitch gave Lydia a bottle in preparation for her evening at my parents’ and she took to it vigorously, grinning at him as if it was the best thing since, well, breastmilk, that her dad was feeding her. Like, the two best things in the world! At the same time! Also, she laughed. She smiled at him and gave him the sweetest chuckle, bestowing upon him the first of what I hope will be many chuckles.

I was too smitten to bother with jealousy.