It's a little strange to think we've been married for 10 years. Ten. That's the first number the Associated Press writes in numerals instead of spelling out. Ten. It's strange both because it's hard to remember exactly what it was like being single and because that's way longer than any of my boyfriends lasted. Guess there's something to that marriage thing after all.
Then again, maybe I was just lucky enough to choose well. Because I truly believe that no matter how smart you are, no matter how savvy, you are perfectly capable of making a bad choice in a husband. There's no telling just who that guy is going to become. No telling just who you are going to become in the years to come....the many years if you're lucky. And, if you're lucky, you both change in ways that make you more compatible rather than less. Because there's no fighting change. You change...and so does everyone else.
Case in point...look at us. Aren't we cuuute???See, we're not even married yet. Engaged, yes, but we've got no idea what's in store for us or what wild curve balls life might throw. We're happily naive and as much as I love our life now, I wouldn't mind being them again, if just for a few hours.
And here... Here we are as happy newlyweds, not so many months after that first picture. Still blissfully ignorant of what marriage really entails or what it's like to raise children or face tragedies together without losing sight of one another.
Here, we'd been married for a year and we're are off adventuring around Great Britain. This particular photo was taken in Yorkshire where I spent three years of my youth...the most awkward years, between 6th and 8th grade.I had so much fun showing my "new" husband some of my favorite places from childhood. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to show my children many of the same things someday. You know, whenever I think my sanity can handle that kind of trip.
After the trip to England and Wales, I got even more bold and planned a trip to Central America, specifically to Belize, with a day trip to Guatemala. I knew the hubby was a little resistant to the idea, but he didn't confess that he was petrified about the whole deal until we returned and we'd both had a fantastic time traipsing around the jungles and snorkeling around the reef.
The trip to Belize was supposed to be our last big trip before we dove into parenthood...inarguably the biggest adventure of all. And that plan succeeded, but it a more wildly adventurous way than we'd planned. Despite the trauma of having a baby in the hospital for 14 weeks, I think it only brought us closer and I learned what a tremendous support my husband could be under a variety of really awful circumstances.
Here's a man I couldn't do without. Other couples didn't fare nearly so well during their NICU stays. I'd give my husband a lot of credit for keeping the whole marriage together through a really rotten time.
But the next year was better. Sorta. I mean, time plays tricks on you, you know? I know we didn't get much sleep that year, so it couldn't have been that great, right?
Smunch was far from an easy baby. We did what we could to stay sane, but I'm not sure we succeeded. Looks can be deceiving.
See, if we'd really retrieved our sanity in 2003, we might not have decided that Smunch needed a sibling. We might not have taken the chance of repeating the whole NICU deal over again. If we'd been sane. With a toddler at home and 8 more weeks of NICU time ahead, we had a rough time juggling everything. Then Gram Ryder died suddenly, making 2004 by far our worst year on record. So much drama, so many tears. So hard to understand each other.
But Mam was a better sleeper and that meant that despite the horrible year prior, we slowly started regaining a little sanity. I know. Surprising with a baby and a toddler in the house, huh? Like so many things, it's all a matter of perspective. Here we are, trying to give a little back to the March of Dimes for the two children they arguably gave us. We both know, after all, that it's no small miracle that we have any children at all.
And by the following year, things had started to mellow out just a little. Our children were both happy and growing. Smunch had started stuttering much more severely than ever before. We both found it alarming and it was hard to get past just how difficult a stutter might make his life. For all of the people who have never really heard Smunch speak, I'd like to say that it's a huge struggle for him and it's exceedingly painful to listen to, whether you're a parent or not. Marriage is difficult during times like those, when you're both worried or scared, maybe for the same reasons. Maybe for different reasons. We did O.K. And look how happy we were looking that Fall!
That was 2006. Oddly, it was really hard to find any photos that included the two of us in 2007. There are, of course, plenty of photos of the kids. I'm usually the one with the camera, so there are even lots of the kids with their daddy. Not so many of me with my husband. Perhaps that explains this photo: where I look a whole lot like I might be saying, "This dancing is nice and all, but who is this dude?"
There has been no shortage of ups and downs in the last couple of years, but at least they're getting smaller. With the shrinking economy, I've found that I've largely run out of work. And I've found that it suits me. I get to do fun things like plan camping trips to Yosemite, where Daddy and I drag grumpy munchkins on spectacular hikes.Believe it or not, they were more enthusiastic than this picture suggests. We made it to the top of Vernal Falls that day with promises of the "Mist Trail".
Hubby's had some much more serious ups and downs at work, but seems to have come out alright in the end. And despite the hours of speech therapy, some temporarily added occupational therapy and newly added physical therapy, Smunch is doing well. It's a real joy to see him enjoying school, participating (quite dysfluently) in class and becoming a huge sports nut. Mam's only just begun her hours of speech therapy, but seems to be making great strides. She's ready for kindergarten. I'm looking forward to Fall when both kids will be in the same school. Look! In that previous photo, from just a year ago, I even remembered that maybe I'd like a reflective picture of myself with my husband. Nevermind that it was a photo taken in the "reflective bean" at Millennium Park in Chicago and my awesome husband is looking a wee bit distorted.
We've managed to spend a lot of money on babysitters and get out at least once a month, most months. We usually have cheap dinners and go see a movie. We've seen a lot of movies for a couple with two kids. My favorite part of our dates is stopping by Starbucks afterwards. It's not that I really need the coffee. I just like having a chance to sit down and talk to that guy I married. No urgent requests, nothing to be addressed, no kids to interrupt us every 10 seconds. We don't always have a lot to talk about, but it's almost like 10 years ago.
We can't go back there, but at least we can recapture little tiny bits of that time that used to be just ours. It's not quite the adventure it was, but you know what? I think I like it that way!
p.s. My overachieving husband promised himself that he would make it back to the same weight he was when we got married before our 10th anniversary. He had to lose more than 40 pounds. I thought that sounded good. I had to lose 3-5 pounds. My husband is now a svelte, skinny guy who's looking pretty darned good. I, on the other hand, well, what's 3 pounds anyway?