It was our seventh wedding anniversary. Which is the baby wipe anniversary, I believe. Or perhaps the Swiffer anniversary. Either way, we had no money for gifts after Googling local preschool prices. But it didn’t matter. The sun was shining. I was wearing a skirt AND non-pregnancy underwear. And my mother-in-law was in town, happily volunteering to watch our adorable spawn so we could drink wine at a restaurant while not simultaneously dodging baby head-butts for once.
It was just what two stressed-out parents of small children needed.
So, naturally, we spent most of the day in the emergency room.
What happened, you ask? Good question. I still don’t know. But to sum up, I felt like I was dying for 45 minutes and then felt completely fine. After an exam and some tests and an ultrasound, it was discovered that I had a very serious case of absolutely nothing being wrong with me. My official diagnosis was “um…your gallbladder, maybe?” followed by that shoulder shrug emoji.
It was just what two stressed-out parents of small children didn’t need. Instead of a nice dinner and adult cocktails not served in a sippy cup and a clumsy make-out session in the driveway, we have an unnecessary medical bill heading our way.
Love. Ain’t it grand?
But that’s what marriage looks like after seven years and two kids and one aging dog. Reality has replaced all the dopamine. You don’t generally have time to be all lovey-dovey. Or hell, even lovey at this point. We’re lucky if we have a free hand to occasionally high-five one another.
So, you have to show your love in other ways.
It’s saying “hey, I’ll clean up the dog vomit.”
It’s saying “make sure you eat something.”
It’s saying “I duct-taped that one part of the dishwasher so it won’t make the high-pitched noise that you hate anymore.”
It’s hearing the baby cry in the middle of the night, AGAIN, followed by hearing “go back to sleep, I got her.”
It’s hearing your partner use every curse word ever invented as they try to get said baby back to sleep and yet not judging them.
It’s hearing those three most beautiful words in the English language, “take a nap.”
It’s hearing the blissful laughter of small children who are being thoroughly entertained and distracted by another adult so you can spend six and a half minutes alone in the bathroom.
It’s making a big breakfast every morning even though you’re exhausted because it’s likely the only meal the two of you will get to eat together.
It’s the arms from out of nowhere that hug you from behind while you’re standing at the kitchen sink stress-eating cheese.
It’s laughing off the fact the other person tried to karate chop your face when you hugged them from behind because it startled them because it’s been so long since you two were able to touch in a manner that didn’t include passing a small child back and forth.
It’s coming home with a bottle of wine when you know they’ve had a bad day.
It’s coming home with a handle of Captain Morgan when you know they’ve had a bad week.
It’s springing for the extra pizza topping even though money is tight because they deserve sausage AND pepperoni, dammit.
It’s saving the last doughnut for them but they’re saving the last doughnut for you so said doughnut just sits there until it becomes inedible and you finally throw way the glazed petrified disk five days later.
It’s refraining from watching the next episode of “West World” for nine days straight because the other one is too tired to make it through an entire hour-long show once the kids are asleep.
It’s chugging coffee at 7:30 p.m. so you can finally make it through an episode of “West World” because the other one has been so patient for the past nine days.
It’s having inside jokes, which are made only funnier because you’re both suffering from extreme sleep deprivation.
It’s giving them a firm, even stern, pep talk when they dare to start to doubt themselves.
It’s carrying around two kids all day and carrying an old dog up and down the stairs and still wanting to hear about their day no matter how tired you are.
It’s going to work all day and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and still wanting to hear all about how the baby almost crawled today.
It’s knowing that this is one of the hardest yet best times in both your lives. Which is why you rush home from work in a panic when your loved one calls and says “I think I need to go the emergency room.” And why, when you are curled up in the fetal position on the stupid floor, writhing in mysterious pain, your only thought is that you can’t die because you love all these people too much.
Happy anniversary, Ryan. I love you. And the best gift I can give you after all these years is to let you know I wouldn’t change a thing.
Also, we’re out of baby wipes.