It’s 5:30 am. Avery is up eating breakfast, I am typing away at my laptop, all while Chad and Alice sleep.
This life is one I didn’t envision eight years ago. Sure, I hoped to have kids, but like any childless parent, I didn’t understand the logistics of it, or how it would consume and overtake my life.
And I sure didn’t consider how it would change my relationship with Chad. How our lazy Saturday mornings, sleeping in and walking over to the little French cafe near our downtown apartment for a leisurely brunch, would become a thing of the past.
I’m writing in our dining room, which is currently full of bags and suitcases for a trip we are taking. The logistics of traveling with kids is complex, a battle plan. These are no longer the days of jetting off to Vancouver with a hastily packed suitcase, to wandering along the ocean after dark, hands clasped, talking about whatever our wine-infused brains wanted. I have contingency plans mapped in my brain: if x happens, we will do y. Puke bags and zofran are packed. Last night I dreamt we took the girls for a hike through snowy mountains and I forgot to have Alice wear pants. She trudged through the snow in a skirt. And then we ran into a delirious hiker who thought she brought water along for the hike, but instead was carrying mouthwash.
If that dream has a message to tell, it’s that I’m the delirious, mouthwash-toting hiker.
All this to say, these eight years of marriage have been eight years of exponential growth and change. We transitioned from our twenties, the years of trying what we thought we liked, trying to be who we thought we were, to our thirties.
For me, at least, the thirties have switched from a self-focused lens to more of a meaning-of-life lens. What is the purpose of life? What am I supposed to be doing in this world? Meanwhile, Chad ponders questions like, “What is the best golf course in a 30-mile radius of our house?”
We are very different, and this has brought many fruits to our marriage. Like how Avery and Alice will be good at math, unlike me. While Chad usually excels at getting the girls to bed in 5 minutes tops on his nights, I recently noticed it was taking him much longer than usual. And the girls were so quiet. Was he reading to them?
I snuck upstairs and found him lying in bed with the girls and drilling them on addition and subtraction problems. Which explains why they now fall asleep so quickly on his nights.
He forms alliances with the girls when it will be beneficial to his case. He taught them the chant, “What do we want? Ice cream! When do we want it? Now!” to accompany banging on the kitchen table after dinner.
These days are whirlwinds. Sometimes, I feel like I am running on a hamster wheel. Sprinting.
I fold endless stacks of laundry, while more stacks appear. I run to target for more dino nuggets, the kind with cauliflower and chickpeas blended in, only to return home and realize I forgot the dish soap, gosh darn it. The third target run I’ve gone on without getting dish soap.
There are RSVPs to be responded to, math homework to supervise, and meals to plan, oh the meals.
I hop off the hamster wheel occasionally, gulping in air, swigging water (or mouthwash), and wondering where I am trying to go, or what I am trying to achieve.
Some days speed by, while others slug along.
It is chaos. And organized. And everything in between.
But there is a groundedness in this chaos of parenthood: I am not in this alone. Chad is working right alongside me to keep life running smoothly, or at least… running, puttering, and maybe stalling, but together.
So this life? I didn’t imagine it would turn out the way it has. I imagined living out all of my days in Minnesota. I didn’t expect quite so many migraines. I thought I would have my life together by the time I was thirty.
Instead, it has been one heck of a ride, with one heck of a guy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Anniversary, Chad!