Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Eight songs for a mad king
This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding.
We kissed first. Or maybe we kissed too early? And then started laughing? I can't quite remember. All I know is, we laughed and laughed. We were married and we were delighted.
It is the laughter that sustains us and that saves us, every time.
It's not like with the kids, where we've somehow, once again, gotten into a standoff about shoes. Or breakfast. Or tooth brushing. Even though I try so hard to remember to voice their feelings. "You're so frustrated. You want to play. You don't want to put on your shoes."
Too often in the moment, I forget.
I try to remind myself, but then it is morning and everything is hard and I end up being all, "Just put on your shoes! We put shoes on every day! We have to go! Put them on!"
But if we do get into that spiral and I can break the tension "Look, a squirrel!" or make them laugh, we can reset and move forward.
But with grownups, with us, "Look, a squirrel!" doesn't work.
Our tension is not so easily broken.
Eight years ago on this day, we'd known each other for approximately 10 months. Most of those months our free time was spent watching The Office, doing the crossword, swilling beer in bars, and going for runs along the Potomac.
Those months were easy. We had one big fight, about our honeymoon. Seriously. That was the biggest thing we had to fight about. Which exotic location and for how long.
We both wanted kids. We were raised with a strong work ethic, and to pay bills and only incur debt very carefully and with much deliberation. Our politics and worldviews aligned. We both liked Bells Two Hearted.
We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.
And we each found the other funny. Sometimes only mildly amusing. And sometimes hilarious. This was what really got me.
Nick was smart and kind, and he made me laugh. And he loved my humor. Obviously, if he hadn't found me funny, I'd have considered him humorless.
Now we have kids. We spend most of our free time with them. Sometimes this is tremendously fun, and sometimes it's incredibly taxing, and often it's both, all swirled together. But regardless, we both consider it important to parent as well as we can.
But this means we have very little time or energy for the two of us. Our relationship suffers for it.
We have a house that demands a lot, both maintenance-wise and financially. Our politics and worldviews are unchanged and compatible. We almost never drink beer. (Separate personal choices for differing reasons.)
We fight, boy howdy, do we fight. Sometimes the mad lasts for only 15 minutes, or for an hour or two. In the worst case it lasted about a year.
I can simultaneously love Nick with all my heart and be angry enough to loathe him with every fiber of my being. They aren't contradictory, at least not to me. And he is strong enough to handle it.
I don't exactly believe women who never admit to wanting to stab their husbands.
Recently a dear friend asked me if I think she is hard to live with. I said yes. She is hard to live with and I am hard to live with, and so is my husband. It is hard to live with people.
People are annoying when you have to live with their moods and uncapped toothpaste and inside out socks.
So we pick the ones we love the most. The ones whose minds intrigue us. The ones with whom we are our best version of ourselves, because we feel truly good with them. And with whom we can be our worst, most vulnerable versions of ourselves, because we trust and feel safe with them.
The ones who make us laugh, really laugh.
I did, and I do, and I would all over again.
Oh, look! A squirrel!