Three Years

A third anniversary doesn’t seem to have as much pizzazz as other years. The first year is a novel thing, the second, “hey look, we’re still at this and we’re figuring it out!” Three… it feels like turning 22, in a way — you’re already legal everywhere, you’ve done the dancing on the tables thing, and you’re pretty sure the last big party was a year ago and the next one won’t be ’till you’re 30.

That’s not to say that I’m not excited for our third anniversary. It’s a moment that signifies that we are still choosing one other, and choosing love, every day. It’s a day to remember all of the nerves and joy and laughter and all-too-quick excitement that shook up our lives three years ago. It’s our day. I’ve had a full heart since I woke up this morning, flipping through photos and remembering. To me, a lot of the joy is in seeing how life has changed since we got married — people in our photos who had no kids now have two, our flower girls are kindergartners, we have our own house and our own child.

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A few days before our anniversary I was by myself, colouring (because I’m on the colouring book bandwagon). It’s something I do when my husband is away on a night shift and my kid is in bed. I let my mind wander, as usual, and the thought that came up and made me set down my pencils and snort was Congratulations! Your marriage is three years old. Your marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts. Because I have an almost-two-year-old, and I know what all of the best toys say on the box — 3+.

I laughed because it was such a bizarre thought, but then I pondered on it some more and realized it was kind of apt. Three years in, and I think we’ve said the worst of what we can say to one another — and the best. We’ve never lived the most evenly-keeled lives, and this last one was a whopper, with a layoff, a new job, and the financial roller coaster that resulted; losing a beloved pet, intense work schedules and solo parenting and childcare issues. Of course every year feels like it’s a big crazy year, but this one felt trying and testing in all new ways. And we have come out the other side (although I am still wary of what is going to drop at my feet next). We didn’t choke on the small parts, or the big parts.

That’s not to say we didn’t stumble. Our marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts but it isn’t old enough to be left unsupervised. This has been the year where our vows have required cultivation and carefulness. This is the year where balance has become the hardest thing to strike. But if it a few hours after a misunderstanding, or it is at the end of an exhausting evening of angrily punctuated text messages, or even if it’s the morning after and someone is waking up huddled in a protective fort of blankets, we have each extended a hand through the storm, stretching to find common ground, to hold on tight and not let go.

I would not change a thing.

Cheestrings and Meltdowns

I am, by nature, a high-stress person. Some might call me high-strung, even (oh, that’s a pun).

Right now I don’t actually have that much long-term stress. Our wedding is looming, yes, but I’ve managed to break down all the stuff left to do into manageable chunks (ask me again if I’m stressed about the wedding in another seven weeks or so). We are doing well, financially, at the moment. Matt and I have been having lots of talks about the future and what it holds and I feel pretty secure with that.

It’s the little every day things that brutalize me. When the cats are constantly fighting, or the fridge is cluttered, or my laundry pile seems to be reproducing on its own.

Last week I had a mini-meltdown after an email I was supposed to send at 3:30 p.m. was still bouncing back to me at 5 p.m. thanks to insufficient data capabilities. It was a production day, too, and we were short staffed. I had to deal with FTP errors, and lots of running around. When I went downstairs to leave my co-worker pointed out I was covered in hives.

So — stress hives, yay! Matt tried to fix things by taking me out for dinner. Two appletinis helped, but when we got home everything fell apart again shortly thereafter and I ended up in that awful crying-for-the-sake-of-crying state at midnight, in bed. Once I was capable of breathing through my nose again he went downstairs to try and get some things together to help me out.

He brought up Tylenol, for my headache, a Gravol for my stomach (and, honestly, probably to knock me out, too), some tissue for my nose, and a glass of water.

… and a cheestring.

Something about the way he proudly presented it with, “and a cheestring!” made me stop crying (momentarily) and let out a giggle. His reasoning that I should eat something with the meds made sense, of course, but… it was a cheesestring. Such a goofy snack. And I actually had to sit there and string it because I’m philosophically opposed to people who just eat them whole, so it distracted me from my meltdown.

I’m probably going to get stressed out again in the future. I’m probably going to cry myself to sleep on more than one occasion. But there will always be Matt, and there will always be cheestrings.

Side note: I just learned these are called cheestrings and not cheesestrings.

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