Eleven years ago right now I was probably wrapping things up at the reception hall after a wonderful wedding day. What a fantastic day that was. Gorgeous weather, my ideal dress, surrounded by friends, and marrying a fantastic guy. At the end of that day I wouldn't have changed anything. It really went amazingly well.
Eleven years later, I'm probably just as tired as I was that night, but for so many different reasons. Looking back there are a handful of things I might have changed, but to be honest part of that is social media's fault. There are things I've seen in the years since that I would possibly do differently now--different photo poses, maybe a couple tiny details about the reception, and maybe even a slightly different dress...though at the time I know that one was the best I saw by far. But it was a truly great day spent with so many special people. I didn't have a doubt in my mind that I was doing the right thing, and I couldn't wait to be married.
Up until this past year, I feel like we did pretty well with the whole marriage thing. Despite Craig's busy schedule and Jacob's entrance into our lives, I felt like we did a pretty good job about getting decent alone time and keeping our marriage strong. Could we have done better? Maybe, but I think we were doing a better job than a lot of people. And then Carter was born and Jacob's behavior went down the toilet, and suddenly year 11 turned into a major challenge. Nothing horrible or inherently, imminently destructive, but difficult in that if certain behaviors were allowed to continue for too long, it could lead to trouble. I think it's probably similar to the early stages of what people who divorce and say, "Well, we just grew apart" might go through. We've been so busy dividing and conquering (me with Carter, Craig with Jacob) that it's hard to focus on us. We sit down to dinner and spend half of it trying to get the kid to eat like refined humans, and the other half trying to talk but being interrupted by Jacob's random ramblings or Carter's screeches. It makes it very hard to put a coherent sentence together. I feel like it takes us ages to make decisions about anything, because we can't talk about something for more than 30 seconds without being interrupted. And by the time the kids are in bed and we could talk, we're both exhausted and more likely to spend the evening vegged our in front of our computers and our TV. Sad, I know, but sometimes it feels like the only mental break we get.
It's more of a "lack thereof" thing than a "negative" thing, and I can see where if it drags on for a long period of time, it could be extra problematic. This year has been more challenging in general because up until Jacob's behavior imploded, we didn't have much to disagree about. But sometimes we have differing ideas of the best way to manage his behavior, and sometimes we're so caught up in caring for the other kid that we forget what needs to happen for the other one, and the one who is paying attention may feel a little slighted...like, "Why am I the only one thinking around here?" Blame it on months of sleep deprivation and the constant background noise that comes from two kids. We're both tired and distracted a lot of the time, and it causes problems.
It's the sort of situation where you have to intentionally make an effort to connect with the other person--to talk, to keep some intimacy, to find a way to cut through the clutter and remind yourselves why you fell in love with each other in the first place. It's not that you don't love each other, it's just that you've forgotten why you found each other so irresistible that you just had to get married.
We've found it extra hard with two high-ish maintenance kids to get out together alone. We'd be nervous about what Jacob might do, and concerned about Carter's meltdowns when we leave, and between time, money, and availability of child care, it's hard. Overnights or time out of town have been nearly unheard of since last year's Knighthawks championship game trip. And you know, it's really something we need to properly reconnect.
My parents were nice enough to offer to come to Rochester today to watch the kids so we could go out for a proper date. Leading up to it, I was honestly having trouble coming up with something to do. Maybe it's just that it's so rare that I wanted to pick the greatest option possible, or maybe we're just so out of practice that I've stopped dreaming about the things that we could do. I posed the question on Facebook (of course), and one of my friends suggested an idea that was probably more "old us" than anything else...and I think we needed a little of that right now.
We started out the night having dinner at Bar Louie, a new chain restaurant that opened at our mall a while back. With Jacob's limitations it's hard to go to restaurants, so we just hadn't been there. It was a scorching hot day outside (baseball and pool time earlier nearly wiped us out), but by the evening it was a little more pleasant. No chill, for sure! The big door to the patio was open at the restaurant, which made for a nice atmosphere. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, before running into the mall for a few minutes so I could make a purchase I'd been thinking about all week and finally got a coupon for!
On my friend's advice, we headed up to the lake--though not the part of the lake we've usually gone to in Greece. This time we headed off to Irondequoit, the next big town over, to go to their lakefront. We went to the oldest mini golf course in the country and played a round. I played terribly, but it was a fun course (even one whole where you chip!) and we had a good time. We then headed up to the strip along the water just past Seabreeze Amusement Park. The strip includes three separate restaurants in a row that specialize in burger/hot dog cuisine. We grabbed some custard and strolled along up to Irondequoit Bay, where we saw a giant white goose. I don't think I've ever seen one of those before. We get a lot of Canadian geese around here, but the white goose was a new thing and it was HUGE. We then strolled back and decided to stop for a drink at this little dive bar we haven't been to in years. Marge's is this little bar smack in the middle of a row of beach houses. I don't know how their neighbors stand it, but it's such a funny little place. Out back there's a nice deck, and then probably 3/4 of the way down the beach to the lake is roped off and full of chairs for people to just sit in the sand and enjoy their drink. We couldn't snag any chairs, but we just stood in the sand while we drank. The air was warm, the breeze was lovely, and the sky was interesting--mostly cloudy but with a pinkish glow near the horizon. In a couple spots you could see that it was raining way out in the middle of the lake. It was so nice. We got to reminisce, talk about things in detail, make some tentative plans for the summer, and just enjoy each other's presence for a change. No wrangling kids, no second guessing decisions, no hassling of any kind. Just hanging out like the old days. It was much needed and so much fun.
Unfortunately, I forgot to grab my camera before we left, so I just have a handful of iPod photos to remember the date. I'll have to post them when I have a chance. I would have documented things so much better with my real camera, but I did what I could. It was such a nice night, though, and I'm so happy we got to do it. It was a good reminder that getting away together is important, and that we can still have fun when we do it. We need to do it more. Our marriage is fine, trust me, but I would like it to be even better than fine. The busyness of life with two kids is a major challenge, and I think we're up to it, but we need to be intentional about remembering each other. And I think this was a good reminder of that.
Happy 11th Anniversary to us...and here's to hoping we never forget to keep exploring ways to recapture the magic of that day and night 11 years ago today. We're worth it.