Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Year 18

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I were wed.
In honor of our anniversary, we decided to force our children to watch our wedding video.

Celebrating 18 years of his hand on my butt.

He called on his way home from work to tell me what time he’d be home, like he does every day that he’s not traveling for work. His timing has always been impeccable in that he unfailingly chooses the very worst moments of the day to ring. Today was no better, but at least I wasn’t elbow-deep in a raw chicken or finishing up in the bathroom or any number of two-hands-needed activities that I’ve been in the middle of doing when he calls. Usually his ETA information is in hours and minutes, coupled with “I meant to leave earlier” or “Traffic is crazy, I thought I’d be home an hour ago” or “I was on my way out when the phone rang/someone came into the office for a chat/a gorilla was standing outside the building and I had to wait until he was gone to leave.”

And whatever time he says he’ll be home, I add twenty minutes.

He adds, “I’ll see you soon. Hey, I didn’t get you anything for our anniversary.”

I exhaled, relieved. He’s the gift-giver between us; I struggle with this aspect of human decency. I don’t really care about gifts. He’s still waiting for a Father’s Day 2015 gift that I promised and then sort of… just didn’t buy. It’s been a problem over the years.

“Yeah, me either.”

“I didn’t even get you a card.”

“Me either. It’s okay, jeez. Being together is the gift that keeps on giving, right?”

He laughs heartily. A little too into the joke, I think – but whatever.

I continue with the low expectations: “And I didn’t make anything special for dinner, either. We have leftover beef stroganoff and salad that needs to be used up. You’d die if you knew all the food I threw out today.” I’m projecting; he doesn’t really care about throwing food away, but I do, and it makes me feel better to say it. “The kids are both home, so we’ll wait for you to eat our leftover beef noodles and old salad together, and then I thought we’d make the kids watch our wedding video with us.” It was a great plan, and I knew he’d love it.

“That sounds fantastic. I can’t wait.”

He wasn’t joking. The man never turns down an opportunity to relive good times. He used to haul out his high school football videos to watch as entertainment when we were dating. I remember those naps as particularly restorative.

I put out a glass for him and poured myself a glass of cheap cabernet, and when he got home I plated and nuked the beef and made my famous garlic bread from some Texas Toast that had been languishing in the pantry. We toasted our anniversary and after dinner, tasked the kids with dish duty and locating the wedding DVD, and while we waited for them to finish, he and I drank wine and reminisced about our wedding day and our notorious wedding reception, every sweet and sordid detail captured on video.

You see, my husband and I, in a bit of poor planning, exited our wedding reception a couple of hours before it ended to stay closer to the airport to catch our early-morning honeymoon flight. We missed a generous portion of the reception activities, which, after the requisite garter and bouquet toss, various forced couple dances, and cake cutting, devolved into an unholy mess, and kind of an awesome party.

Side note: We had an open bar at our wedding reception.

Soon after our honeymoon, the videographer sent us hours of raw footage from the wedding day. He included in the package a form on which we could jot down anything that we wanted omitted from the final edited DVD of our special day: an embarrassing moment, a sloppy best wishes interview, or anything questionable of taste or character on the part of us or our guests.

After watching those hours of footage back then, I specifically remember, after wiping away tears of mirth and disbelief over what we had just witnessed through the lens of what had to be one of the top ten best days of our videographer’s career, looking at each other and saying “Wow, our guests sure had fun after we left. Eh, they won’t put any of that crazy stuff on the DVD. It's our wedding video!”

And we threw away that form.

Short story: Our wedding video is comprised of nothing BUT that crazy stuff.

So naturally we wanted to share it with our children.

Turns out that our kids eagerly settled in with us to watch the official celebration of the beginning of our family, prompting comments and questions, from our son asking if my hair was in cornrows (it wasn’t) to our daughter asking if me and two of my bridesmaids got our between-the-shoulder blades tattoos together (we didn’t). We all agreed that the button-tuxedo look was a little dated but hope that the look comes back. We oohed and ahhed at how cute (and young!) relatives and friends were all those years ago. I found that, unlike prior viewings, I cared less that I stuttered during my vows and winced less that we asked my sister-in-law to read an excerpt from The Little Prince instead of the more common religious text, for Pete’s sake. I teared up – again – at watching my dad and me dance together, and we all got quiet when seeing the images of our grandparents and other guests who are no longer with us.

And we laughed and loved watching how much fun our guests had at our wedding party, questionable behavior and all.

I read that the traditional gift for the 18th year of marriage is appliances, but I think that leftovers and wedding video watching with your teenagers is just as good.

Actually, it just might be the best way to celebrate an anniversary.

Matthew 19:4-5 "Have you not read that he who created them ... said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?"
It says "hold fast to his wife." THIS IS MY ENTIRE LIFE YOU GUYS

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Here’s To The Moms

The past couple of years while I have been largely silent on this blog, I have become blazingly, blatantly homesick – sentimental, even, which I said I’d never be – about my kids.

Not that they’ve gone anywhere, oh no no no. They are still most decidedly living in this house, eating the food that I prepare and making a mess of the floors that I just cleaned and filling the laundry baskets with their blazingly and blatantly smelly, dirty clothing.


They’re growing up, up, and away. Separating from our family. Leaving to explore their own lives, one sleepover and movie and shopping trip and high school football game-turned-post-game-get-together-at-Applebee’s at a time. Today it’s a day at the pumpkin patch with friends; tomorrow it will be a semester at college.

This is how fast time goes. I’ve been sucking the life out of this time, savoring every second. All those old parents who said “Enjoy it, it goes by so fast!” – they were right. I knew they had to be right, because they all said it, all the time. But this time – these not enough years – this is the shortest kid phase ever.

I’ve got a handle on it now, although last year was a tough one. It took a year for me to accept that this is happening, that my kids are approaching the launch phase, the one that I spent so many years prepping for. I mourned, friends. I mourned hard.

And something else happened.  The other day, as I chatted with the mother of a friend of my daughter’s, the realization washed over me that not only am I already homesick over my kids leaving, I am becoming sentimental over another group of people who have been by my side all these years.

My fellow moms.

Moms of the peers of my kids who raised their children alongside mine. The ones who sat in front of me at kindergarten orientation, whose children I clapped for at elementary orchestra and band concerts. Women who might not know my name but who say hello at Back-To-School night, who I’ve waved to countless times in the school parking lot, who sit next to me on hard bleachers at sporting events, who are members of the same school Facebook groups. The ones at the grocery store and Target that I ask “Do you know if early dismissal is Wednesday or Thursday?”

I will miss these moms when all of our kids are gone. Some of them I’ve known since our kids’ preschool years. They are my people and I am theirs. We share the history of our kids’ childhoods. When the childhoods are over, this era ends.

After my tenth high school reunion I had this same feeling, the awareness that the adults around me were people who knew me when I had angst, innocence, and acne. Together we shared first heartbreaks and rebellious behaviors and intoxicating teenage freedom. At the time, I didn’t expect this overwhelming feeling of knowing others and being known. Nostalgia was masked that evening by information-sharing: who had kids and who didn’t, finding out where people lived and what they did for a living (this was before social media took over the world, when seeing people for the first time in ten years was a novelty). It came later, when I reflected on my classmates and who they are now, and I marveled that they knew me when. There’s a comfort in knowing that your life came together with a generation of others.

Moms of your kids’ peers know you and they know your kids, sometimes very early on. They are the ones in the crowd who lend your kid a cellphone to call home when you are late for pickup, to lend a needle and thread, a tissue, a Band-Aid. Over the years they care for you and your kids as you care for them and theirs. They are your village.

When our kids are gone, if we aren’t already friends, I won’t see much of my fellow moms anymore. Not anywhere other than the grocery store or Target, anyway. There will be no dismissal times to ask about, no more school Facebook groups needed to swap ideas and information.

I miss them already, too.