Tim and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday. In many ways our wedding day feels like only yesterday, but when I really think about everything we’ve done in the past decade — bought two houses (and sold one), figured out our career paths (which included grad school and a Master’s degree for Tim), had two children, explored a lot of great new places — then, yeah, ten years seems about right.
Before we got married, the priest who married us had us meet with him for a few sessions of pre-marital counseling. As part of the first session, he put us in separate rooms and had us take a compatibility-type test. It covered a wide range of topics, ranging from whether we’d discussed how many kids we wanted and parenting strategies, to how we handled arguments and apologies, to what we might do if we discovered our spouse had a drug problem. The questions were structured to gauge how much we’d discussed these issues, not to see if we could get the “right” answer. It was designed, I think, to see whether we were on the same page about things that would ultimately be important factors in our relationship.
When we were finished and back together in one room, the priest came in with our scores. He asked us, with only the smallest hint of suspicion, “Did you guys compare answers while you were taking this?” Now, remember, this was 10 years ago, before smart phones and texting were commonplace; if we’d wanted to cheat off each other’s tests while we were in separate rooms, it would have involved some covert T-9 texting that would have been a major pain in the ass. We assured him we had done no such thing. “It’s just that I’ve never seen a couple get such a high percentage of the same answers before,” the priest explained. My inner competitor did a big fist-bump of victory: we’d aced the test!
In all seriousness, all it meant was that we’d already discussed the Big Issues before coming to counseling. The test just helped confirm for the priest what Tim and I already knew: we were ready to take on the commitment of marriage.
We completed the rest of our counseling sessions and continued to have valuable discussions. By the end of it, the idea that we’d cheated on the test had become a shared joke, and all three of us–Tim, me, and the priest–were confident that this would be a strong marriage. At our wedding, the priest’s wife signed our guest book, “Congratulations to the Most Compatible Couple!”
Ten years later, as we sat on our deck enjoying a glass of wine, the cool summer evening air, and the simple joy of a conversation uninterrupted by kiddos who had since gone to bed, Tim asked me how I feel I’m different now than I was ten years ago. A few answers came to mind. I’m more laid back now than I used to be. Tim’s calm attitude has rubbed off on me, which has been helpful in navigating the world of parenting in which very little remains within my control. He and I both agreed that today, compared to ten years ago, we feel a lot more settled. We’re not biding our time in a just-for-now house, but instead own the home we plan to stay in until our kids force us into a nursing home; we’re not waiting to have kids, or more kids, but rather feel that our family is complete; and we’re happy, oh, so happy.
At our wedding, Tim’s best man said in his toast that he hoped our wedding day was not the happiest day of our lives, but rather that our years together would be filled with happier and happier days to come. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life–at the time. As happy as I was that day, I’m even happier now, ten years later.
That compatibility test was right: Tim and I are a great team. We’ve come a long way together in the last decade, and we’ve come out even better than we started. I look forward to finding even more happiness together in the coming decades.
Scene: Tim and Alexander are changing Alexander’s sheets, and Alexander asks about the waterproof mattress cover. Tim explains that it keeps the mattress clean in case Alexander’s pullup leaks in the night.
Alexander agrees that we wouldn’t want the mattress to get dirty, “Because then we would have to clean my mattress. And it wouldn’t even fit in my [laundry] hamper!”
Scene: I’m trying to convince Alexander to come out to breakfast with me and a couple friends, one of whom has a sweet new baby boy. Not above bribery, I offer him a big muffin, a smoothie, a hot chocolate, anything in exchange for him coming with me, all of which he turns down. Finally, I say, “What if I told you that if you come with me, you’ll get to meet a new baby?”
He puzzles over this for a minute and says, “But…I like the baby we already have.”
(Once I convinced him we wouldn’t be trading Emily in for the new baby, he agreed to go with me.)
Scene: At the dinner table, Alexander is silently gesturing and nodding as if he’s having a pretend conversation with someone.
I ask him, “Who are you talking to, Buddy?”
“I’m talking to me.”
“Oh,” I reply, “you’re talking to yourself? And what are you talking about?”
He pauses, uncertain, then: “Um, Mommy? Can you tell me what I’m talking about?”
Scene: In the car on the way to daycare.
“Mommy, I wish our house was a different color.”
I tell him that maybe we’ll paint it someday, but not for a really long time, so of course he asks, “Can we paint our house on the next stay-home days?” (“Stay-home days” is what he calls weekends.)
I explain that painting the house takes a really long time, and when we do it, it’ll take so long that we won’t have any time to play, so we’ll have to wait and paint the house on a stay-home day when we don’t want to play.
After a minute, he asks, “What do you want to do on the next stay-home days, Mommy?”
“I want to play!” I tell him without hesitation.
“Okay…” he says. Then, ever the problem-solver: “Oh! I have an idea! You and Daddy and Emily can play, and I’ll paint the house!”
Background: Miss Linda, our daycare provider, loves our kids to pieces, and she often pretends to munch on Emily’s chubby thighs, for obvious reasons (baby thighs are delicious).
Scene: I’m putting Alexander to bed on a Sunday night, and he asks if tomorrow is a stay-home day or a Miss Linda day. I tell him it’s going to be a Miss Linda day, and he immediately gets very serious.
“I’m not really comfortable going to Miss Linda’s.”
I know Linda takes excellent care of our kids, so I’m not really concerned when he says this, but I still ask some follow-up questions, just to be sure. Eventually, he admits that he has fun playing at Miss Linda’s, but he has one very serious concern:
“But, Mommy…Miss Linda just thinks that Emily is something to eat.”
Emily is officially a one-year-old! (Plus a couple weeks…I’m a little late with this post.)
She’s the cutest one-year-old girl I’ve ever encountered, that’s for sure.
One-year-old Emily loves playing at the park. The swings are always a hit, but once she discovered the slide, it quickly moved into first place on her list of favorites. She can’t get enough.
One-year-old Emily loves hugging her stuffed animals…and then immediately shoving them to the floor, lest too much positive attention go to their heads.
One-year-old Emily loves holding on to Mommy’s hair whenever possible. She doesn’t pull, just holds on to it like a security blanket whenever I’m holding her. She gets mad when I have my hair in a pony tail and it’s harder for her to grab a handful.
One-year-old Emily has a fancy new carseat, which she seems to like much better than the infant bucket seat. She still doesn’t really love riding in the car, but she fusses less in the new seat than she did in the old one.
One-year-old Emily is growing up fast, but she’s not quite ready to sit in the driver’s seat without a healthy dose of skepticism. We’ll try again in about 15 years.
One-year-old Emily can stand up on her own, but only if she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. As soon as she notices she’s standing unsupported, she quickly sits down.
One-year-old Emily loved celebrating her birthday, both the small party we had with family…
…and the celebration we had, just the four of us, on her actual birthday.
One-year-old Emily really loves cheesecake.
One-year-old Emily has brought us so much laughter and joy. I can’t believe we got so lucky not just once, but twice. We have the very best children. The very best.
I thought it might be bittersweet to reach this milestone since we don’t plan to have more children, but it turns out it’s far more sweet than bitter. There’s a small part of me that will always be nostalgic for those tiny baby snuggles, but more than anything, I feel relieved to have the baby days behind us. Now we get to watch our babies grow into kids, and every day we get more glimpses of the people they’re going to grow up to be. It’s so much fun. I love it, and I’m so excited for the next part of this crazy parenthood journey.
Plus, nobody can look a picture like this and argue that Emily’s not still my baby. I mean, look:
Alexander, what do you want to be when you grow up?
“Well, I dunno!”
You can be whatever you want to be. A doctor, a firefighter…
“Oh, yeah! I could be a fireman and then I can wear my fireman hat!”
Yeah, or whatever else you want. Do you think you want to be a teacher like Daddy?
“Yes! Or…wait. No, I don’t want to be as tall as Daddy. I wanna be big like you, Mommy!”
Do you know what Mommy does?
Mommy’s an editor. Do you know what that means?
It means that Mommy helps fix words. Like, if someone writes some words, and maybe gets some letters mixed up or puts the words in the wrong order, Mommy helps fix it up.
“Oh, yeah! I wanna be like you, Mommy!”
You want to be an editor?
Emily is 11 months old!
These days, Emily…
…eats everything in sight. She went from refusing to let anything other than pureed food anywhere near her mouth to putting everything in her mouth practically overnight. Now she’s constantly stealing bites of whatever we’re eating, feeding herself small things like Cheerios, and has even figured out how to drink through a straw.
Chewing is still a tough concept for her, so we have to break all her food into tiny pieces, but it’s nice not to be spoon-feeding her 5+ tubs of purees every day. This girl has an appetite, and she’s in that early-eater stage where she’s not picky and is happy to try everything. It’s really great.
…sleeps through the night! She’s actually been doing this since about 9.5 months, I just forgot to mention it before now. It’s really nice not to be waking up at 3am every night, let me tell you. About a month ago, when Alexander was having nightmares pretty frequently, I told Tim that since Emily was finally sleeping, I could start helping out with Alexander’s wake-ups again. And do you know what Tim told me? Tim, who I sometimes think values his sleep over almost everything else in life? He told me, “Don’t worry about it; you deserve a break.” You guys. Tim is the very best.
…cruises, crawls, and gets into everything. We’ve reached the fun stage where she is constantly opening drawers and pulling everything out. Let me tell you how much I love it. (Not a lot.) And she’s obsessed with the dishwasher. Whenever she hears Tim start to do the dishes, she makes a bee-line across the house to climb in the dishwasher and help. Let me tell you how much Tim loves it. (Not a lot.)
…wears hairclips for up to 5 minutes at a time before yanking them out. Good thing she’s ridiculously cute even when her bangs are in her eyes.
…enjoys playing in the snow…
…dancing to the music her jumperoo plays…
…and, of course, spending as much time with her brother as possible.
She’s going to be a whole year old soon, which doesn’t seem even remotely possible. But then I look back at pictures from when she was born, and I can’t believe she was ever such a tiny little thing. She’s grown up so much in the past 11 months!