4 years 

Today was my oldest’s 4th birthday. 4 years as a mom. 4 years of loving someone more than I could ever imagine loving someone.  I remember the first night home with him and being more scared than I have ever been in my life. My body was so tired, my mind was so tired, I wondered if I’d ever sleep again out of the fear that if I blinked something would happen. I knew exactly what people meant that having a child felt like your heart is outside your body. I felt so exposed and my mind raced all night as I struggled to stay awake to watch his little chest rise and fall, assurance that he was okay. I laid awake thinking okay this is just what I’ll do for the rest of my life, watch him sleep. Eventually, of course, exhaustion wins out and you sleep. But never the deep, wake up whenever you’re refreshed sleep. That doesn’t exist anymore that day you become a mom. You are always listening, always waiting for the cry in the night ‘mama maaaammmaaa.’ Usually you wake about 5 seconds before that call comes. Your mama sense knows they need you before they even do. 

As a mom I’ve noticed that nothing can hurt me personally anymore. Whatever sad or bad or hard thing that happens I worry only about how it effects my kids. If they are hurt or sad or disappointed I am that too. Three kids, three pieces of my raw and beating heart exposed. Being a mom is tiring. The late nights, the early mornings and all the wake ups in between are tiring, yes. Being in the trenches sometimes not having a second to breathe or notice yes you did forget a bra today, is tiring. But it’s holding the well being of these tiny little souls’ in your heart that really causes the exhaustion. 

As I laid my new 4 year old down to sleep tonight after an epic ‘I should have put him to bed two hours prior’ tantrum. I kissed him and whispered to him to not be sad, that he was just tired, he would feel better in the morning. I reminded him of all the birthday fun and how I wished that he was happy. Happy because as a mom that is the greatest hope we can have that our babies and the pieces of our heart they carry, are happy.

This is marriage.

With my eyes struggling to stay half open after a night of the baby not liking to be more than a half a centimeter from my nipple, the almost four year old stretching out over half our bed, and the early riser 2 year old who likes to rise a couple hours before the sun, I answered my ringing phone. 

Husband in a hushed, urgent voice: I need you to bring my iPad and computer to work.

Me: wait, you mean to tell me you want me to dress the three kids and me, get them in their car seats and drive somewhere? 

Husband: um, ya you need to.

Me: mumbles swear words and try not go cry.

Husband: hangs up.

I pull the baby off my nipple and stomp around gathering clothes and something that I can appear to look somewhat sane in.

At least if I have to go out I can get a coffee I muse.

An hour later and a dose of caffeine in my blood my mind wanders. Tomorrow is our fifth anniversary. I know, do the math, 5 years 3 kids, it’s a frightening thought for many, I live it. I begin thinking how this is marriage. Dragging yourself to do something for your spouse, not because you want to, not because you think you are physically even able to, not even because you love them, but because in that moment they need you and you do it. 

I was under no illusion when we got married that marriage wasn’t hard. I’d heard it and thought I understood it. You can’t love someone all the time, you definitely can’t like someone all the time. It’s really taken me 5 years and 3 kids to get it though. There are ups and there are lots of downs. Life happens, shitty things happen, really shitty things happen. Kids get sick, babies are up all night, there’s never enough money or time. You can go days, months, years thinking you married the best guy on the planet. You can go days, months, years wondering why you ever thought marriage was a good idea. But it’s the moments you decide to get up, brush the sleep from your eyes and be there for them over and over again that matter. It’s fighting and laughing 5 minutes later because what were you even fighting about? It’s about getting up with the kids so your husband can sleep for an hour. It’s about working two jobs so your wife can stay home. It’s a choice. 

Marriage isn’t a wedding, a first dance, not even a first, fifth or fiftieth anniversary. Those just mark the time. Marriage is in the moments every day where you make the choice to be there. 

So happy fifth anniversary Mark, I love you and glad you are my partner in this craziness of our life. But please remember your computer on Monday.