Yesterday was our 20th anniversary of being together.
20 years…it just seems impossible that two crazy kids who met in high school would be celebrating 20 years together. The number is just huge. 20.
I remember 20 years ago when Ben asked me out. He had the most beautiful speech lined up about relationships and possibilities, and living dreams together. He has always had a gift of words, yet all I was able to come up with was, “okay!”
Man, he was so hot…luckiest woman on earth? Check!
We were still good friends afterward. Not a lot changed, all things considered. We still rode bikes all over the place, explored ideas, saved our money for Icees, etc. (we learned fiscal responsibility later…)
And I am rather happy to say not a lot changed after we got married either. We were both still the same persons we were when we were riding bikes; but now we were in a Jetta Wolfsburg, which was a much sweeter ride. Plus, it is a whole lot easier to drink coffee in a car. Just sayin’.
What was surprising was the litany of expectations I put on myself once I was a wife. I had never thought there would be any difference; and yet, the picture of Donna Reed vacuuming in pearls would dance around in my mind, reminding me of what a wife “should” be. But these were back in corners of my head, and I wasn’t entirely conscious of them. So I didn’t realize how powerful they were.
I remember one night, shortly after we had gotten married, trying to make dinner for my husband.
I had spent the day at college and rushed home to try to get dinner on the table before he got home from his 2.5 hour commute. Because this was important, getting dinner on the table for my husband, right? If I had a well planned dinner on the table, it would look like I had nothing else to do all day other than to clean the dishes, prepare dinner, tidy up the kitchen and all in heels and a freshly starched sun dress, obviously. I obviously was not rushing home from 5 classes in college, still smelling like black cafeteria coffee and knowledge. I was obviously not still wearing jeans and the same shirt from yesterday with beat up Ked’s. I had obviously all the time in the world to live up to the perfect wife in my mind.
I was obviously……not the perfect wife.
For the most part, I am great at multi-tasking. Not “pretty good,” but not “fanatically amazing.” I’d say “great.” I have a good amount of confidence in myself with this category. With this being so, I had about 10,000 things going in the kitchen that night. The meat was browning, the spices were out, the noodles were on the counter, the vegetables were on the cutting board and I had another pot of coffee brewing.
One eye on the clock, trying to time the perfect dinner from the perfect wife for my husband who would be home very soon.
Unfortunately, I had a large pot sitting on the edge of the counter while it was filling with water for the noodles, and I was bustling around the kitchen prepping other things when it overfloweth like a river…and fell with an astonishing amount of vigor …
just as Ben walked in.
I not only didn’t have dinner ready, but it was hardly even cooking yet and now Ben has witnessed my extreme failure in being able to even fill a pot of water successfully. What was going through my head was this: “You cannot give your husband the perfect home with the perfect meal that he deserves, and he made a huge mistake in marrying you because you will never be the perfect wife.”
There are no two ways about it: I completely lost it. It was bad.
I remember my husband looking at me like I had grown another head and said, “…what are you doing?” Not what am I doing in the kitchen; that was pretty plain to see. I was busy messing up dinner. “What are you doing” in regards to my behavior. I was stressed out in serious, down to the core, I am a wife now, kind of way.
I explained, “I needed to get dinner ready for you (sniff) and I wanted to have it on the table before you got home (sniff), and I just messed everything up (sniff) and I am a horrible wife and I was trying to be the best wife for you…(sniff).”
He said something along the lines of: “This was never important to me before we got married…you were important to me before we got married, and that’s still all I care about now. How about we do what we usually do on busy days and hit Carls Jr?”
And that’s what we did.
It is really bizarre that we are celebrating 20 years together. We are both from broken homes, we met when we were 15 in German class in high school, and we had all these crazy dreams and ideas together. Statistically, we aren’t feasible.
But, man, we are stubborn people! I think our motto is something along the lines of, “Dammit, I love you! Deal with it!” “I love you too! YOU deal with it!!”
Have babies, be happy, succeed at life.
So, yesterday, our 20th Anniversary for those of you following along, I dropped him off at the airport for a business trip.
This just cracks me up because it’s *20 YEARS* and I’m not worried about it. I have a babysitter lined up for this weekend, and I don’t need anything big. I know where we will be that night, the night after, and next week. I know where we will be next year, the year after and when we are a bazillion years old.
We are going to be madly in love and watching our kids and their kids grow up. We are going to be talking over our favorite William Powell/Myrna Loy movies and drinking whiskey and bourbon in our backyard together.
Some people may have 5 year plans, but we started this relationship with a “forever” plan.
The deal in our relationship is that if he leaves, I paint the house. It keeps me busy until he gets home…so we have a light purple kitchen, a purple living room, dark purple stairs, dark purple upstairs hallway, and a mosaic purple bathroom. So far.
I don’t care what you say, this is an AWESOME purple!!
I have done a lot of painting, but I never got around to our front door.
Years ago we bought this beautiful red for our front door to reflect the sunsets that it gets in the evenings. But painting a door is difficult, because you have to get the texture and brush strokes right, otherwise you end up with a Pee-Wee Herman house. And that is actually not what I’m going for (amazingly).
I was determined to finish the door before I even begin to paint my bedroom and bathroom purple.
Painting doors is a pain in the neck. It really did take a long time trying to get all the coats of paint right, no roller lines, putting painters tape around everything, painting the trim white…and then there was the doorknob.
Getting the doorknob and deadbolt off was really easy! Just unscrew them and they fall off.
Putting the locks back together was a completely different story. It took a few hours of trying to find the right combination to not only align the screws, but to make sure the lock still worked even if I got the screws right. But it’s not like I can just leave the door unlocked forever…this had to be done.
And I did it! It took a while, but I actually got the whole thing to work! And now I have this beautiful new door with working doorknobs…that I did all on my own!
That is one mighty fine door you got there.
While I was fiddling with locks and screws and screwdrivers (and my sanity) I was thinking about how similar the process was to marriage. It is not a quick fix, it takes time. You can’t manhandle the locks, you have to be delicate…yet firm. And the success you have at the end is fantastic.
Spending 20 years together has not been a fairy tale in the making. We don’t get pixie dust to whisk us into a magical fairy land where healthy food mystically appears out of nowhere. Pirate ships don’t take us through emerald waters to visit mermaids; at least not for free, they don’t. And after 20 years and 5 (gigantic) pregnancies, I am certainly not the fairy tale size I once was. 20 years together means we have fiddled with locks, thrown bad ones away and got new working ones, we’ve been delicate, yet firm in our visions and goals. It has taken a long time to get here, and it has been through harsh realities of health scares, financial balancing, employment and unemployment, moving homes…and moving homes again, and granite-strong love for each other.
I am obviously not the perfect wife Donna Reed played on TV. But my incredible, loving, real purple house would never come through black and white television anyway.