Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was David and my six year wedding anniversary. Hooray for us! We like to joke that we’ve been together six years but it feels like sixty. If there was a “Which television couple are you?” quiz on Facebook, we would be the Honeymooners, for sure. But before my newlywed, non-parent friends get unduly alarmed about how kids crush the romance out of a marriage, let me hasten to say that feeling like you’ve been together sixty years isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.

Case in point: the terms by which David and I now address each other. When I’m not calling him “shithead” and he’s not calling me “nagshead” we usually refer to one another as “Mommy” and “Daddy” even when the kids are not present.

Now, I’m not proud of this. This is precisely the sort of thing I thought I would NEVER do before I had kids. I mean, its something people who have lost their selves in the process of becoming a parent do, something old, uninteresting people who never have sex do. It’s something my parents do.

But now I do it too, and there’s just no way around it.

David told me about one time when he was at the corner bodega, and the guy who works there and knows

David from his Friday night beer-runs, asked him why he was also buying Ben and Jerry’s this time.

“Just picking up something for Mom,” he replied.

“Is your mother visiting?’ the man asked.

But of course he was talking about me.

I’m not going to lie, That was a blow.

But it was also a year or two ago. And since that time, we’ve moved past the newness of this stage of our lives, and into the dense, deepening madness of it, And I have realized something.

Who gives a shit what we call each other? Who really has the energy to make sure that we’re addressing each other in quirky, romantic ways that keep our essential characters intact and shows respect for the people we are, apart from our roles as parents?

Its worrying about that crap that makes you old before your time and sucks the joie de vivre right out of you. Or at least that’s my position. What matters is that we are here, together, addressing each other at all, coming together even if in haphazard, clumsy ways, even if a trip to the dentist’s office, without kids, is considered a hot date, even if sex is accompanied by a Dora the Explorer soundtrack, even if the sentence “I love you” is too long to make it out without an interruption half the time. The joy of being together for six years going on sixty is that we don’t have to finish our sentences. David knows what I’m trying to say even if all I get through is, “Daddy, I love---” before an airborne Lego collides with my forehead.

When you’re married with young kids, the fastest way to ruin, I think, is to compare your marriage to any of its past incarnations. It’s a whole new paradigm. Less desirable in many ways, sure, but a hell of a lot better in others. At our anniversary brunch yesterday, I glanced over at this early twenty-something couple sitting at the table next to us, on a first or second date.

“That was great, thank you,” said the woman, who’d clearly blown out her hair that morning and had taken pains to pick out an appropriate not-too-skimpy-but-revealing-enough sundress for the occasion.

“No, thank you,” said her date, a man with no wrinkles in his button-down shirt.

Watching them, I felt exactly what they must feel when they pass me yelling at my screaming, snotty-face kids.

“I am SO glad not to be them,” I said to David.

“Me too,” said David, “I hated dating.”

“Well, I didn’t hate it. I liked it just fine. But been there, done that. I wouldn’t go back for anything,” I sipped my Bellini, “Honestly, I would rather sit here, arguing with you, than be on a first date again.”

And just like that, with the help of a little eggs benedict and a morning drink, we went from the Honeymooners to the other couple in When Harry Met Sally.

It’s the truth, too. We are, I'd dare to say, still crazy after all these years. David is my best friend and I’d rather be doing jack squat with him, I’d rather be wiping up vomit by his side than lounging in Rio with someone else. Sure, those singles at the restaurant get to look forward to hot, mystery sex, and breathtaking turns of romantic fate, the thrill of discovering someone and being discovered themselves but they also have to wade through all that awful not-knowing, the unbearable lightness of being uncommitted. And though the weight of my family sometimes feels like a ton of bricks dragging me down, its an anchor. And I know. I know that Big Daddy—I mean, David -- and I are tied together, old-school style, by which I mean irrevocably and forever. Maybe not the way I imagined it six years ago, but exactly the way I like it today.