Tag: Marriage


Latent Swashbuckler

As my last post made abundantly clear, courage is not something I come by easily. I assume God kept this in mind when he nudged single me toward single Dan seven years ago and then hid conspicuously behind a potted plant singing “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It” just loud enough for us to hear. At least, I fervently hope so. A girl could use a bit of divine reassurance upon realizing her husband considers mountain biking, racing through airports, and eating fist-sized octopi to be marital bonding activities.

Dan’s sense of adventure and gift for tenacity (sounds better than stubbornness, right?) have formed the perfect antidote to my sense of being a delicate flower and my gift for hanging out safely indoors for weeks on end. He brings out the latent swashbuckler in me, and I recognize this as a good thing. Usually.

A little less so two Sundays ago. It was the first full day of our settimana bianca—a week in the mountains nearly as important to Italian culture as a week at the beach in August (and involving nearly as much sunbathing). Some dear friends were chaperoning the girls’ naps, so Dan and I grabbed our snowboards and headed up the lift… straight into a cloudbank. Notably, we had forgotten a map.

“No problem,” said my undaunted husband. “We’ll just had straight across until we find an obvious trail.”

“Straight across the mountain?” squeaked his rather daunted wife. “Without a map? Inside a cloud that fancies itself opaque?”

“Sure. Why not?”

Because I am a gutless invertebrate, I didn’t say.

Twenty minutes later found me clinging to the snowy mountainside with the tips of my boots while trying to keep a grip on my board. Above and below me were sheer nothingness—emphasis on the sheer. In fact, the only things I could see were the perpendicular slope directly beneath my feet and Dan’s vague outline ahead. The rest of my vision had been smothered in whiteout. I hadn’t heard anything for a quarter of an hour besides my own footsteps and that landlocked fish flopping around inside my chest, and panic was turning my tired muscles to jelly. Granted, the circumstances didn’t really warrant panic… but I was raised on Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, and my imagination is nothing if not skilled.

We inched along the mountainside twenty minutes more, then another twenty minutes, then yet another twenty, and I really have no idea what I’m saying because time was swallowed up in fog along with the rest of the world. All I know is that each step was an exercise in panic-squashing bravery. And we took a lot of steps.

Want to see?

Danger Mountain

Why yes, we did cross the width of an entire mountain. In steep snow. Through blinding fog. Carrying our boards. Terrified of losing civilization forevermore and/or tumbling down a precipice onto razor-sharp rocks (this one might have been just me). With no idea that at pretty much any point, we could have snowboarded down easily.

Once we finally got a feel for our surroundings and made it to the bottom, my floppety heart decided it had racked up enough [imaginary] near-death experiences for the week. I was ready to race Dan to the cable car and spend the rest of our vacation communing with our hotel room. But then he got me laughing about our ridiculous mountain trek, and then he got me on my board again, and before I knew it, we were wrapping up a fantastic week on the slopes.

Our last morning, we found ourselves at the same starting point staring into yet another cloud.

“We have to get to the opposite side one way or another,” he said.


“And it would be so much easier to just snowboard across the top than to walk with our boards at the bottom.”


“And even if it is foggy, we at least know what we’re doing this time.”

“Sort of.”

“Just as long as we don’t lose momentum.”

“Or look down.” Or think about Little House on the Prairie. Or use my memory in any capacity whatsoever.

“So, you up for it?” asked that irrepressible husband of mine.

From behind a ski lift pole drifted an unmistakable “Na na na na na na na.”

Cable car parents

“Sure,” I answered. “Why not?”


Desperate Intentions

Another one of my friends just announced her divorce. That makes two in the last month, and I am suddenly out of breathable air.

I have no judgement for all my friends whose marriages have ripped in two… only a desperate sadness that applies as much to me as it does to them. I guess in my mind, we’ve always been in this together. Not just Dan and I, but every person who’s taken the brave step into lifelong commitment. Love strong enough to inspire vows is a marvel, and I adore the thought that at least one person treasures each of my married friends even more than I do. Other couples’ contentment is an airborne love potion for me. It sharpens my focus on my own marriage, on the immense value my husband holds, and I find myself snuggling deeper into security by association. If they can hold tightly to their bond over the years, so can we.

This is why, when yet another Facebook status changes to “single,” I feel like someone has shoved the word into my throat. I taste the tears, the painful timbre of shouted words, and the flat gray of hopelessness. As absurd and egotistical as it may seem, I feel as though I have been divorced as well, at least to a tiny extent. The solidity of my marriage is dependent on no one else’s; this, I know. Yet when another couple’s faith crumbles… it plants the suspicion that I’m wrong about committed love, its adaptability, its storehouse of second chances for happiness. Maybe love truly can grow brittle enough to be unmanageable.

I do my best to pluck these thoughts out the moment they sprout. Logic helps — the sturdy facts that I am myself, Dan is himself, and our marriage is simply ours. No one else’s handwritten vows. No one else’s wedding picture hanging above our bed. No one else’s arguments to slog through. No one else holding me as I fall asleep each night. Besides this, we have the strong relationships of our parents and grandparents to lean into when the wind picks up, as well as the support of so many dear friends. I am grateful beyond words for the trust that pulses every day through our clasped hands. Even if that cannot immunize me against the pain of others’ separation, it is enough to turn that heartache inward and use it to cling even more intentionally to my own brave and hopeful promise.



I forget that marriage is my own real-life romance,
the same filigreed fabric woven with
our luminous first kiss,
vows handwritten as love letters,
anniversary trips to Venice, NYC, and Rome…

among the bills and dirty diapers,
our orbits colliding within the same four walls,
marriage lowers its starry eyes
and takes on the antiseptic green of
an institution.

But sometimes,
when he’s away,
memories sift like sunlight through the holes:
glasses of wine in cobblestone cafés,
the living puzzle of our hands,
the core temperature of our last kiss melting memories of our first…

And sometimes,
I have to turn off the chick flicks halfway through
because glamorous actors
and heart-nudging storylines
are only a Netflix imitation of



People always laugh when they hear my pet name for my husband, but come on— There is not enough R&B in our total combined bloodlines to call each other Baby without cracking up. Honey is what parents call each other, Sweetheart is claimed by our girls, and I’m not even going to get into the creep factor of calling one’s spouse Daddy. (It’s Ick x 1037,000,000, but you didn’t hear that from me.) Dan is both male and of sound mind, so Snoogly Oogums is out of the question, as are Punkin’ Doodle, Schmoopy Pie, and Peaches. Tragic, I know.

Fortunately for the dignity of all involved, something happened six years and one day ago which gave me unlimited license to the only pet name that ever stuck: Husband.

Which, if you ask me, is the most endearing term of all.

Photo credit: Dalton Photography


Headless Is Hot Right Now

For the past week, I’ve been mulling over Rebecca Woolf’s post about whether marriage or motherhood is harder than the other. At first, it felt like a terrible question to consider at all… Is chocolate or raspberry gelato more likely to make me throw up? Do I hate the guts of fresh spring mornings or crisp fall evenings more? Would I take greater satisfaction from strangling my husband or strangling my babies? But perhaps it is a legitimate question after all. Relationships are not always easy, especially among people who live in the same house, and especially when life throws itself in the blender (as it is so wont to do around here).

The answer was simple at first, and I’ll give you a few hints:
1)      Surgical removal
2)      Breast pumps
3)      Explosive diapers
4)      Projectile vomiting
5)      Screaming fits
6)      Teething
7)      If it is liquid, it must be spilled
8)      Preferably on the rug
9)      Or even better, on the sofa
10) Did I mention the explosive diapers?
Motherhood is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. We parents sacrifice a lot of freedoms for our children, including going out at night and shutting the bathroom door. Little ones have too many emotional and physical needs to count, and my idea of an exhausting day is hanging out at home with my girls. My precious, beautiful girls who have oh so much in common with tornadoes.

But then I thought about conflict. Let’s say (hypothetically of course) that I yelled at my three-year-old for grabbing toys out of her little sister’s hand for the 7,415th time yesterday. One big hug and a “Mommy’s sorry,” and our relationship was back to its typical giggly state. However, let’s say (also hypothetically) that when Dan came home for lunch last week, I said “hi” and then snapped his head off and swallowed it whole. And while we may both know I was reacting to unrelated stresses, our relationship requires more than “sorry” to get back on track. We need shovels and flashlights and hardhats and paper for sketching a map as we dig. Then, once we finally unearth whatever tricky, deep-rooted problem that made me eat my husband’s head in the first place, we start the science experiments to find a solution. And then, once we’ve taken care of the problem, we still have a head to replace and a tunnel to crawl out of and some revisions to our daily routine to institute so that it doesn’t happen again… and I now need a nap.

The point is that both motherhood and spousehood are draining. Complicated. Scary. Hard. And far, far lovelier than I deserve. I feel wildly fortunate to live with three relational guinea pigs people who let me hang around despite my mistakes… and laugh at my jokes… and let me tickle them silly… and cuddle close… and say crazy things like they love me. As much work as these relationships can sometimes take to maintain, they are more precious to me than all the freedoms in the world. Yes, even more than shutting the bathroom door.


And a Mushy Halloween To You

I love this girl,

Best hat ever

who turned one stupendous, sugar-coated year old today. Her favorite gifts were: 1) the Duplo elephant holding a yellow umbrella, and 2) the gift wrap, of course. This girl is caught in a time hiccup, running around the house in her black-and-purple Vans* as a big kid but still snuggling up for her morning bottle as a sweet-cheeked baby. She melts my heart, this one. As much as I wish I could stop her from growing a single second older, I can’t wait to see how many kinds of fantastic she develops over the next year. Happy birthday, Sophie Ruth!

* Because we are cool parents, but also because we want her to get mistaken for a boy ALL THE TIME. ::Sigh::

I love this girl,

Natalie skipping

who burst into our room this morning after discovering Sophie’s birthday balloons** and shrieked, “Look! This balloon has NIPPLES!” (It did.) Her favorite one of Sophie’s gifts was all of them, and when I complimented her on the little animals she had picked out for her sister, she rolled her eyes. “Mommy, I’m pretty sure they’re for me.” She too is straddling the line between big and little—using logic when it suits her, but still skipping the whole way home from school singing, “One, two, three, four, five, six, eleven, eight, nine! NINE, NINE, NINE, NINE, NINE, NINE, NINE!” Our lives are a thousand shades brighter for her smile.

** In our house, the birthday girl always wakes up to a bedroom filled with colorful balloons. Surprise!

I love this guy,

Quick Daddy hug

who stayed up far too late last night to help his pumpkin be-splattered wife finish making yummy things.*** I can’t say enough how much I appreciate this man. He loves his “girls” (all three of us included) deeply and shows it in little sacrifices all throughout the day… like putting on that annoying kids’ music so the girls can dance, or cooking supper on evenings when I look like Medusa’s tired twin. His heart is what holds our family—our lovely tangle of balloons and breakdowns and skipping and screaming—together the tightest. I think I’d like to keep him awhile.

*** Like these:

Balloon cake pops

(Strawberry balloon cake pops for the birthday girl!)


Dear Crush

Dear crush,

Perhaps it’s because I never know what to expect when you invite me on a date. You’ve taken me to IMAX and waterfalls, Alligator Alley and concerts, ski slopes and dinner, and you never let on what we’re doing until the last possible moment. (I never catch on either, thanks to my gullibility trusting nature and disinclination toward geography.) Last Monday’s date night involved aperitivi in a little downtown bar and then the impossible—“The Dark Knight,” in English, in a large-screen theater. With box seats. You realize I can die a happy woman now, right?


Perhaps it’s because the next morning, while I was burrowed under the covers effectively not helping you get the girls dressed, you were making me a picture-perfect cappuccino… which you then brought to me in bed. I fully commend you for rising to the challenge and finding a way to wake me without incurring any wrath whatsoever. In fact, I can’t think of a lovelier start to a day than coffee with a heaping spoonful of lovin’.

St. Patty dates

Perhaps it’s because you suspected one day last week had been a little gloomy and brought me home a pot of cheery orange! flowers wrapped in a cheery orange! bow. Of all the people in the world, including myself, you know best how I tick. Perhaps it’s because, even though we’re leaning slightly in different directions about the presidential election, we can still die laughing together at SNL’s political sketches. I’m so glad to share my weird particular sense of humor with you. Perhaps it’s because you encourage me relentlessly until I go completely sane and have a fabulous day.

Roller coastering

Perhaps all of the above are why I find myself loving you a smidgen or two. You never know.


Your secret admirer

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