Yesterday was my 6-year wedding anniversary. We got married on 10-10-10, on a gorgeous autumn Sunday in Woodstock, NY. Our ceremony was outdoors, overlooking the woods behind the house where T spent his childhood. It was one of those magical climates, warm and sunny for October — especially since the days immediately preceding were wet, chilly and gray. We were surrounded by a bevy of trees, their leaves midway through their colorful cycle of life. The sun shone brightly on the melange of green, red, orange and yellow foliage, magnifying their beauty. And the crisp, sunny air mixed with my adrenaline to allow me to smile, chat, eat, drink and even dance (something I don’t do without hesitation) in nothing but my strapless mermaid gown. The day was really perfect, as so many weddings end up being after all those months of preparation and anxiety over the orchestration of countless details.
On that day, when I peered a few years into our future, I envisioned myself as a professor who had easily completed her Ph.D. and popped out a couple kids – one girl and one boy, obviously. My picture of marriage was pretty accurate, since T and I had been living together for 4 years and were already well-versed in the daily joys and annoyances of sharing a life with someone. But my idea of motherhood was fuzzy and abstract — even then I admitted that I possessed very little concrete knowledge about babies or parenting. I thought our Wheaten Terrier, Osa, was miles cuter than any baby that I had encountered in my (then) 28 years.
Six years later came along much quicker than I had anticipated. I now understand the truism that life moves quickly, and that it really gains speed once you have kiddos. I remember one day when princess #1 was about 5 months old, donning a barrette in her peachfuzzy-light-brown hair and sucking contentedly on a pacifier, the three of us went out to lunch. We were approached by an older man who imparted great wisdom upon us. He told us that even though the days seem to move slow, the years go fast. How had this saying escaped me until that very moment? I now hear it at least bimonthly from some member of the kid-admiring peanut gallery — and boy is it true! Here we are, more than half a decade past our love-filled, idyllic wedding day. We have 2 amazing and nonstop girls (guess we weren’t supposed to get one of each, after all), our beloved Osa passed away last summer (and had long since been lowered to the bottom of the totem pole), and I’m even farther away from getting that Ph.D. (I never did heed all those warnings, from moms who knew better, that I should finish my degree before having kids). Oh well, this is life. By the way, I can say that now, and mean it, only after recently letting go of all the guilt that proved too heavy to keep carrying around year after year. I may not be a tenured professor, but maybe I’ll become something even better for me.
It’s pretty wonderful to have had a wedding where I felt glamorous and lovely, where I could proudly admire all of my Pinterest-worthy DIY decorations and accept the generosity and kind wishes from friends and family. Because in the years that followed, those put-together, classy moments have been hard to find in the heaps of laundry and diapers and dishes and play doh. Which brings me to our anniversary, a day when the overwhelming craziness of parenthood and marriage reached a peak. See, Princess #1 suffered a mean stomach virus a few days ago. I’d already spent the weekend cleaning puke off car seats, couches, pillows and comforters while praying that I escape the wrath of the mean bug.
Now, nobody relishes a stomach flu, but I truly hate it. It might be the one reoccurring discomfort in life that plagues me the most intensely, making me feel the greatest depths of torture and depression. So when R got sick, it was terrible watching her usually-vibrant self unmoving and moaning in pain. It was also hard because one of my very best friends happened to be visiting that weekend, wanting to experience the magic of Fall in NM — hot air balloons and all. Somehow we managed to see and do all we had planned (balloon fiesta, Sandia Peak Tramway, Meow Wolf); little miss R was a hardcore trooper, better after only 24 sad hours. We thought it was all behind us until T threw up mid-presidential debate Sunday night. I’m sure many others across our great nation were doing the same, but I knew this meant that R’s malicious bug had burrowed deeper into our home. Later that night, a now-healthy R had manipulated her way into our bed and was sleeping soundly when T lay/puked in agony and baby K and I decided to play musical beds. At about 3am, we found ourselves in R’s fairly uncomfortable bed (the nursery was still occupied by my bestie). The following day (our anniversary!) included all the normal hurdles, but with even more laundry, sanitizing, baby-wearing, tea-making and epsom-salt bathing. I was a chicken sans head as I ran from room to room — trying to stop K from eating the cat’s toys, unsliming R’s school book, generally keeping everyone alive, and warming and caring for a spiritless T (who had never before known the actual wrath of a stomach bug).
I groggily awoke this morning (for the 10th or so time since last night) to R saying that she was “hungry as a hippo” (the pukes really kept her away from food for some time) and K trying to climb over me in order to access her sister’s new Cloud Pet. The three of us had camped out in the nursery (my friend left at 5am yesterday morning and the nursery was the only puke-free and decently sanitized room). Even though I had pulled out the trundle bed so we wouldn’t have to squeeze into a Twin, the girls surrounded me on one edge of one teeny mattress, each claiming ownership of one side of my body. I’m just grateful we all made it through the day and night, that T woke up much better, and that I am still virus-free and remain somewhat capable of climbing this mountain of debris.
I’m not sure that anyone imagines their 6-year anniversary just like mine — my nebulous vision certainly included less vomit and zero diaper blowouts. But I tried to keep reminding myself of this: despite the excess of bodily fluids and absence of champagne toasts, roses and cuddles with the hubs, the hurricane that surrounded me on our anniversary day was made by our real-life family. The family that we vowed to build and nurture, in sickness and in health, exactly six years ago.