The roots of Lily’s tree, which we planted along with her placenta, shortly after her birth. This week the kids and I are tucking the roots, which have been scratched bare by our chickens, back into the soil. While we work, we talk about how this tree (as well as Quinn’s) has grown and changed as we have grown and changed.
Before John and I had children, we rarely fought. We weathered an incredibly fierce storm (one that I have alluded to a few times but not yet shared publicly) the year before we married and for the most part everything after that tunnel of darkness felt like sunshine and rainbows.
We have similar values. We spend money in much the same way. We have many overlapping interests – from music to movies – and we generally support (or at least tolerate) each other’s outside interests (his – football and politics; mine – yoga, farming and whatever new age-y books / classes /workshops strike my fancy).
There just wasn’t a whole lot to fight about – other than the occasional roommate-type squabbles about toilet seats or dirty dishes.
Fast forward a couple of years. I’m home full time with a toddler and a baby. John’s working two jobs trying to keep a roof over our heads. I’m exhausted all the time. He’s exhausted all the time. Everything in our house is breaking in rapid succession and there is no money in the budget for repairs. (Hell there’s not even a budget at this point. Just paycheck-to-paycheck prayers that somehow the checks we’re writing are not going to bounce.) I’m nursing around the clock. Nobody is sleeping through the night.
And you know what?
We quickly found things – many things – to fight about.
And the more we fought, the more stressful life got and the more we pulled away from each other and focused on “surviving” our days without any help from the other. And the more we pulled away from each other the more the little roommate-type squabbles, hissed under our breath so that little ones would not hear, became just about the only words we exchanged.
I’m not going to detail some of the darkest moments that we experienced during this time – the kind of moments when bags get packed and a couch at your parents’ house feels like a better option than the life you are living.
Because somewhere in the midst of all the pain and anger we found each other again. Somehow we were able to step back and look at the path we were on and realize that we didn’t want to go where it leads. And that slowly, and ever so tenderly, if we began taking baby steps back towards each other and the love we once shared, we might be able to find our way through the muck.
And for the last year-and-a-half or so that’s just what we’ve been doing. Talking to each other. Loving each other. Checking in with each other. Working together as a team. Making decisions together. Doing small things to brighten each other’s days.
And finally – once again – seeing and bringing out the best in each other.
This past weekend was absolutely nutty. On Saturday, while John and our friend changed the water tank in the basement (only to discover that unfortunately that was not where the air in our pipes is coming from), and attempted to repair the washing machine and dryer, I was at the Laundromat with the kids doing eight loads of laundry.
We did not make it home ‘til after 9 p.m. and once the kids were finally asleep in their beds and the chicks were all settled into their new pen (wait…have I even told you that we have 12 little balls of fluff living in our living room?) John and I looked at each other for the first time in days.
He smiled and my whole body instantly softened.
For the next couple of hours we sipped wine, worked on rhymes for an Easter morning treasure hunt, and caught up on everything.
The second half of our Florida trip. The five hours I spent at a walk-in clinic getting drugs for the plane ride home. The tree-cutting adventure he went on last weekend. The death of a family friend. The floods. My parents’ basement. His mother’s basement. The backhoe we may need to rent to search for the leak in the water line. My new (quickly-expanding) job at our friend’s farm and the cows I will be milking very soon. The much-anticipated parents-only road trip we will be taking this summer. On and on the conversation (and the wine) flowed.
What a trip this whole marriage / parenting / homeowner / being a grown-up gig is. So glad I am once again sharing the journey hand-in-hand with my best friend.