Today marks 8 years since I walked down the aisle to find him at the end of it. Never mind that my parents’ elderly friend confusedly tried to wander in through the front doors of the church 10 seconds before my father and I made our grand entrance (RIP, Mr. Fisher) or that our caterers showed up late and failed to set the tables for the reception (thank God for our ludicrous wedding party: 18 attendants in all), or that the liquor store neglected to deliver half our order until 3 hours into the reception (mom and dad had a solid supply of Fat Tire for months. Months, I tell you.) or even that Carey Pearsall got locked in the men’s room for close to an hour or that the thermostat was broken in the reception hall.
Really, I’m over it. All but the catering piece.
And what we have now, looking back over an entire octave of married love, was well worth the logistical difficulties the day of: 4 lovely children. 5 if you count the one stubbornly stuck under my ribs, pleading for club soda and MSG. A beautiful, imperfect home that was so worth the wait. A busy, crammed to the brim life of noise and color and not a ton of sleep… but more than we’ll be getting 6 weeks from now, this I know for sure.
A year ago I have to admit, I was feeling pretty defeated by this whole marriage business.
Not our specific marriage, per se, but just the general day to day grind of the thing. We were living in a house that seemed like it was personally out to get us, parenting a bunch of kids who were too little to be particularly helpful, and battling a seemingly endless string of childhood illnesses and costly home repairs that stretched long past winter well into spring. There was nothing very wrong, but we seemed mired in domestic drudgery. And I forgot to be grateful.
I forgot that for years before I met him, I used to sometimes cry at friends’ weddings, and not for altruistic reasons.
I forgot that I begged God for years to reveal His path for me, and that once I was pretty sure of it I switched over to begging Him to reveal the person I’d walk it with.
I’d forgotten every bad first date, every heart break, every lonely night spent at the gym or Target or some terrible party I didn’t really want to be at in the first place. I’d forgotten that I fell asleep most nights with a large, essentially feral cat curled up at the end of my bed, wondering whether he’d be ushering me into my 30’s, harbinger of an inevitable lifestyle to come.
In short, I’d forgotten to fall on my knees and thank God for the remarkable way that He had answered my prayers to a T (taller than me, smarter than me, stronger than me, holier than me). Instead, I’d quickly moved on to the “next, please” phase because that’s what humans do: we long for the next item on the checklist, hoping that when the baby at last arrives, when the newborn at last sleeps through the night, when the ring is at last on the finger, when the big promotion finally comes through…all will be well.
It’s a moving target though, isn’t it? Even now I’m struggling to tamp down the longing for “the next thing,” willing the 5-6 weeks separating me from delivering this latest addition to pass in an instant, and with them, the sciatica, the hip pain, the heartburn, the tears.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful because this life is spectacularly blessed, and I know it. But isn’t it so easy to lose sight of the gift of so-called “ordinary time?”
And the 8 years we’ve been wed? Most of it has been ordinary time. Moments of breathtaking joy and beauty, but lots and lots and lots of moments of long car rides and feverish toddlers and dishes and laundry and bills and catching one another’s eyes too infrequently at the end of a long, hard day.
Most of the days have been long, and many have been good.
When I think that less than a decade has passed and that our marriage is still very much in its infancy, it boggles the mind to imagine what may transpire over the next 40 years. (Probably not 5 more kids, but at the rate we’re going, ?????)
The phenomenon of the seven year itch seems, to me, to be a miring down in the ordinary; a sort of loss of vision for the extraordinary.
A kind of loosening of the expectations and sliding of the standards. And while some of this is normal and inevitable and even good (because honeymoon shape this body ain’t), other aspects are less than ideal.
I need to remind myself in the least romantic way – like maybe even a post it note – not to take it for granted. Not to take him for granted. Not to allow myself to become so consumed by the daily grind that I forget to pause and give thanks for the bread which that labor provides, the very real sustenance by which God is sustaining us and our love, building our family and establishing a household.
So here’s to cherishing the ordinary. Here’s to the reality that the babysitter already cancelled, the gift card we were planning to use probably wouldn’t have covered both entrees, anyway, and that the little boy who is moaning about an aching neck in the next room over is probably going to be in our room at some point tonight with a temperature and a story to tell.
I love you, honey. I hope we get to do this till we’re 80. I hope you know how grateful I am that you like reading aloud and wrestling stinky little boys, and that you’re never too tired to do the dishes. Thanks for having me in sickness and in health, at 140 pounds and at, uh, more than that, and in the harrowing moments between hospital admittance and the anesthesiologist’s arrival.