Monday, October 19, 2009

The Seven-Year Kvetch

our wedding cake topper
Once upon an October afternoon seven years ago, when this man and I vowed to spend the rest of our lives together, come hell or high water, boom or bust, and walked out into the bright, crisp world and noisemakers clanged and the blue, cloudless sky glittered with cadmium-yellow leaves, I knew that October would always be ours.

This October, sadly, has been another story.  Our anniversary weekend, a much-anticipated little night away at the romantic mountain hotel where we spent our honeymoon, didn't happen.  Byron was felled with a stomach bug (breaking his much-ballyhooed twelve year no-vomit streak!  sad!) and we canceled.  But then he felt better!  And plans were back on!  And then my mother, the watcher of children, was felled with a weird flu (not swine, smaller scale, piglet, maybe?) and we canceled again.  And it rained all week and the children were unusually shrill and exhausting and we felt like sad, sad bastards.

I took the whole thing particularly hard.  There may have been crying.  There were most certainly heaps of self-pity with generous sides of wallow and a freaking mountain of laundry.

our wedding cake topper
And do you know what my husband did?  Undaunted, he woke up on Saturday morning (a perfect, crispy, yellow-leaves Saturday, just like the day we married) and said, "I am taking the kids out of the house.  For the whole day.  You need a break.  We'll be back later."

Now, there is a not a mother on the planet who has not dreamed of these words, but I, predictably was confused and skeptical.  "What?  Where are you going?" I asked.

"Don't worry about it," he said.  Again, well played.  And he delivered.  He and the kids set out for the entire day on a series of secret errands, visits, meals, and parks.  THE WHOLE DAMN DAY.  And at the end of it, they all returned home with an absolutely giant pot of white mums and a card and sunny dispositions, and he fed them dinner and gave them baths and popped them into bed.  And, truly, it was one of the most romantic gestures I have ever witnessed.  Forget diamonds: all I ever want from here on out is THE WHOLE DAMN DAY.

I tell you all of this not to brag, or to make my husband feel appreciated (I hope he already does), but to acknowledge the simple truth of any good partnership: love is a choice.  Sure, sometimes love is all swooning and songbirds and blue skies, but love is frequently sickness and recessions and exhaustion and whiny children.  True love is not a reflex, an unconscious, bone-deep response, but a deliberate exercise, something in the muscles that you have to flex, flex, and flex some more.  Love is being kind and brave when all you really want to do is put your head in the oven and call it a day.  Love is relentlessly, foolishly, hopelessly optimistic in spite of everything.  Love is my husband's choosing to shake off the dust, choosing to let go of spoiled plans and disappointment, and just make things better.  Choosing me and choosing us, no matter what.

And, seven years ago, I'm sure glad I made the best choice of them all.

our wedding cake topper
Incidentally, this is the 1940's couple from the top of our wedding cake, the cake we (nicely, no smushing) fed each other seven year ago.  In taking pictures of the topper, I noticed that the groom is beaming while his bride looks fairly unamused and even a tad...bitchy?  I decided that, if she was going to sit on the shelf and be all representative of our sacred commitment and whatnot, girlfriend needed to make better choices.

our wedding cake topper
That's more like it.


Rima said...

You are a lot cuter - and most certainly wiser - than the cake topper bride.

Well said, Mrs. Beanpaste!

ShackelMom said...

What a great cake topper, and what a wonderful anniversary event! Your man is indeed a blessing, and I am sure he feels the same about you!

smalltownmom said...

A lovely day for you.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This is so beautiful, Melanie.

I really needed a shot of love in the arm today.

Kizz said...

Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

I love your definition of love. It is sweet. :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Knowing just what your spouse needs--and giving it to them. That is true love.

Happy Anniversary!

JessTrev said...

I love anything you photoshop.

I think you might be channeling Mrs. CrankyPants:


Anonymous said...

Happiest of anniversaries, and many, many more.

Hay said...

That's so damn beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Happy belated anniversary--that was definitely one to remember :) (I don't even remember our twins would have been about 5 months old so that no doubt explains it--that whole year is a blur)

J. said...

Glad the drugs finally kicked in. Post again when the kids are teenagers. ;-)

a Tonggu Momma said...

Happy anniversary! (And - just so you know - y'all look a ton younger than that cake topper couple.)

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

You two deserve each other in every good and holy way.

Happy anniversary.

All Adither said...

You wrote this way better than I ever could've. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Fantastic Forrest said...

It's so nice to read about a marriage that's doing well. That cake topper bride cracks me up - the raised eyebrow is classic!

I'm catching up with your blog; Lisa Milton posted a link on Facebook, so of course, I had to come check it out. Your kids are SO darling. And you're cute as a button yourself. :)

The Green Stone Woman said...

At least you guys know what true love is all about. That is very heart warming and encouraging.

Stu said...

Very nice. The Whole Damn Day is appreciated by my woman too.

Good job Byron.


Kammie said...

I think you may have gotten the last good one. Or at least the last good one one who isn't already married, gay or has an unnatural attachment to his mother.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...


And I wish I could fix my bitchy 'tude with just a swipe of the paintbrush! Life would be so much easier... ;-)

iCarrie said...

Beautiful post. I will give my husband an extra squeeze tonight after reading this.

dkuroiwa said... have such a way of making me smile. your positiveness shines through your really is quite lovely from over here.
Happy Anniversary to you and yours...and yes, I agree, a day to yourself is sometimes the best gift of all...just wish mine would remember that!! ~~sigh~~he will...of this i'm sure.

I love that cake topper..before AND after!!!

Emily said...

Your best one so far, sweet friend!

Emily said...

But, then again... I think I've said that a time or two before?

~m said...

That sound...was my jaw dropping to the floor and getting scraped back up.
The WHOLE day?
Congratulations on your anniversary and while it didn't go according to plan, I'm glad it will be one you'll remember for a long time to come!

Beth said...

I'm late to the party, as usual.

Loved this post and I may quote you somewhere sometime. :D