I have promised us that this year, for your anniversary letter, I will keep it short – what with both of us working, and Ariadne, all the demands on our time, and the fact that I’ve written a whole separate post for our anniversary on how we met.
And I think we both know me trying to avoid being long-winded is just not really likely to happen.
I’ll try. I’ll try to keep this short.
On the day we were married, we spent the entire day preparing for the ceremony and party, and then celebrating – a day of cool weather and fall leaves and wine and laughter and kisses and hugs and dance trains and bliss. On our first anniversary, we got to sleep in, and then drive across the river to the Encampment, to gorge ourselves on Ye Olde Timey Food and giggle at the terrible announcer for the battle reenactment. Last year, on our second anniversary, we were with Lance and Tara at Seahorse Ranch, and we walked down to the river, and all over the property, and then hiked at Munson Lake, and cooked dinner together – a beautiful day of family and peace and nature.
This year, on our third anniversary, things are a bit different. I was up at four thirty in the morning, and I got you up briefly at five. I was up again at six fifteen, and I got you up again at seven thirty. I was at work all day, and you were home in charge of child care. We spent most of the day apart. We contemplated going to a nice dinner tonight – but now it seems we’ll wait until the weekend. So much has changed, and we’d both rather be home in pajamas, snuggling our girl, than out and about after spending most of the day with our family in two different places.
Our first year of marriage, we talked a lot about building a foundation. We had been dating for four years before we got married, and not a lot changed after the wedding – but a marriage is a living, breathing thing that takes care and effort, and I am thankful we at least we aware of that. So, in our first year, we concentrated on building that foundation, learning to work together as a unit, stand together as a team, put ourselves as a family first and foremost.
Our second year of marriage, we talked about a journey. We were aware that we’d come a long way, and yet had a long road ahead of us together. How thankful we were (and are) to travel that journey and that long road together. We thought a lot about were we had been, back when we met in 2009, and how far we had come from those earnest, vulnerable little 22 and 23 year old kids.
Our third year of marriage, there is only one thing to talk about, only one word to summarize what this year has been about – Ariadne.
A year ago, on our anniversary, we were in Florida, with Lance and Tara, and then on to Destin for a few days together by the beach. A year ago, we were a little frazzled, a little tired – that week in Florida did us so much good. We took that time to breathe, and be alone together. I remember feeling like we fell in love all over again that week – that week when we didn’t have to see anyone else, when we had not just hours but days and days together – no jobs, no classes, no chores, no obligations.
We had no clue how our lives were going to change after that week. We had no clue we were leaving with a tiny little baby just barely beginning to grow in my belly. I said we were tired and we were. We had spent that whole year trying to get pregnant, and by late October, I had pretty much given up. I think that’s why we were able to relax so much on that vacation – I wasn’t as obsessed with the idea of getting pregnant. I had learned to let go of control, and stop thinking that wanting something hard enough was enough to make it happen.
I think the reason we got pregnant that week is because I learned to accept that we would be OK, if we didn’t have kids – if we didn’t have a kid that year or this, or ever. It was like when I met you – for some bizarre reason, at 22, I’d accepted that I might never get married, or even find the person I was meant to be with, and accepted it. And of course – as soon as I accepted it, I met you. It seemed to work the same way to get pregnant – as soon as I let go of the idea that we had to get pregnant on my schedule, right then, as soon as I accepted that our love would flourish and grow, with or without a baby – we got pregnant.
I look back on the last year, and now, finally, it feels like the blink of an eye. People kept swearing to me, when I was pregnant, it all goes by so fast. And I was like, nope, disagree. Those nine months were long – for me, anyway. I felt like I’d been pregnant since the dawn of time and would continue to be pregnant until the end of time and there was nothing I could do about it.
And yet now, after Ariadne is here, now the time feels like it flew by. I can’t believe it was only a year ago we got pregnant, only a little over a year that I peed on a stick on early Thanksgiving morning and we learned for certain what the next year would bring. It feels a century ago, a whole other lifetime.
And so this last year has been completely consumed by growing our baby, and preparing for that child to get here. Despite the blur the last year has seemed, the little moments that stand out are so bright and shining and clear – and they are all about Ariadne, although we did not know her as such yet.
I remember calling out to you in a breathless voice that the test was positive. I remember sitting by the Christmas tree and imagining the next year when we’d have a little one with us. I remember not drinking on New Year’s Eve because of the bump in my belly that seemed so noticeable at the time (I had NO IDEA). I remember hiking around Lake Glendale as long as I could, stopping to sit on our bench and just breathe and listen to wind in the trees, you kissing my rounded belly and me trying to imagine that a real baby was really in there. I remember standing out under the full moon, as often as we could catch it, and us saying a prayer together. I know without asking that we always prayed about the same thing – about our daughter, her safety, her well-being.
In the latter part of this year, we have been consumed by our baby. She is still so new and so fresh, and more than anything this year, bringing this baby into the world has proved to me yet again what a special and unique and loving marriage we have.
It would have been so easy to snip at you, when I was huge pregnant and swollen and exhausted. And yet – you were constantly making me an Epsom salt bath for my swollen feet, then rubbing them. You were getting pillows and helping prop me up. You bought me ice cream and told me I was beautiful even when – especially when – I didn’t feel it. You came to every single midwife appointment and read birthing books and practiced counterpressure and breathing with me. You were so involved.
You were with me every moment during those scary few days at the birth center. You were so brave and strong and didn’t let your fear flicker once. I remember lying back on that operating table, scared out of my mind, but with you next to me, petting my head, whispering quiet words into my ear – I felt I could handle it. I pushed down the panic and the horror and just listened to you soothe me, coach me, praise me.
And then – we heard the most beautiful sound – the first breath of our daughter as she was lifted free of me.
There is no greater gift you could have given me than this girl. Lately, I’ve taken to saying – that’s why it took us so long. Whoever’s in charge of the Universe, they were making us wait for the exact right perfect baby.
And again – birthing this baby, caring for a newborn – it would have been so easy for us to struggle – I mean us, the two of us, our relationship and our marriage.
But we didn’t. Not even close. If anything, we are undoubtedly closer and stronger after having a baby. I knew what to expect – that we would both be sleep deprived and short tempered and we might just snip at each other a little more than usual – when we really never snipped or argued before.
I’m so proud of us – even in those early days, when we’d tell the other to lay down even for a few minutes of sleep on those long nights – we were so kind to each other, so patient. We took turns. We made sure to say thank you and good job, even if we didn’t feel particularly gracious or thankful. We made sure each other got at least some sleep – even if it was just 30 or 40 minutes in those early days before my milk came in. You absolutely stepped up to the plate, changing diapers from day one when I couldn’t get out of bed. You didn’t complain – not about diapers or taking your turn soothing her to sleep. You saw the days when my exhaustion overcame me to the point of a meltdown, and you made me nap.
You take such good care of us, Ari and me. It is one of your best qualities – I know we both have days where we at least maybe annoy each other a little bit, we are not absolutely one hundred percent perfect people – but that’s it, that’s all, occasional annoyances. And for so, so much of the time – you are just an absolute incredible father and husband. You don’t complain, you help me however I ask. You are tender and funny and lovely with Ari, and I can’t wait to see how your relationship with her grows over the years. It’s clear how much you adore her, it’s clear how much you adore me. I have said for so many years now and will continue to say – first I, and now we are so lucky to be your girls. Ari and I are so lucky that we are the recipients of your love and dedication. You make me want to work my hardest, even when I am exhausted or overwhelmed or annoyed. You make me want to be deserving of that love you give so freely. I think there can’t be any better partnership than one like we have – we make each other want to be our best selves, we keep each other accountable for our dreams and thoughts and actions, and I’m so grateful we have each other to keep us focused on what’s most important – each other, and our daughter.
It is a testament to the strength of our marriage that we spent the day apart and it didn’t even phase us. We’d rather be together, of course, and there’s a sharp little pain in my chest at being away from you, as always, and it’s even sharper when you’re home with Ari and I’m at work without you both – but we know we’ll get through it. We know it will be OK, that we are strong enough together and apart. Just like we were right before we got pregnant – when we realized we could and would be just as happy with or without a baby. We have this trust in each other and in the love that’s between us. I see people we know struggling in their relationships, having doubts, having issues – and I am always overwhelmed with gratitude that I have you and you have me, and that we have this complete trust in each other. That we know and never doubt that we are each other’s biggest fan and best supporter, and that we find the idea of letting each other down horrifying.
All right – this has been, by normal standards – long enough. You know I could write about you and me and our family and our love for a long time. I know this hasn’t been my best writing, not my most eloquent or my most heartfelt. I know you understand – at the breakneck speed we’ve been hurtling through the days, it’s a miracle I got to write for you at all. And yet, I’m glad I did, glad I took the time. I will look back on this in a year with the same nostalgia I have now for last year’s letter. I will think about our early days as parents, our exhaustion and how we’re constantly learning-adapting-preparing and this time will seem all the sweeter, because this time next year, we will have moved on to the next phase of our lives.
I guess that’s the best part – we get to keep doing this together. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am exactly where I want to be. Sure, I’d love to be a millionaire and live in a beautiful home in London or Germany or someplace tropical, I’d love to be some kind of a star of writing or dancing – but none of that would mean anything without you and Ari. The truth is, I’m exactly where I want to be now, realistically, emotionally, truthfully. I have you and I have Ariadne, and that is the best place I could possibly be.
All my love,