22 April 2006 – just outside the church – we’d been married about 15 minutes!
According to tradition, today H should present me with a piece of pottery. Well he might pass me my dinner plate and I think that will have to do because we’re going to be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary in very much the same way as we celebrate all other major events; with steak.
And possible chips and onion rings too now that I’ve discovered a great recipe for dairy free onion rings.
And very very hopefully, sleeping children and a chance to have supper just the two of us so that we can have a conversation that does not include “sit down”, “you liked it a lot the last time you ate it”, “why don’t you give it a polite taste”, don’t do that to your sister”, “reunite your bottom and that chair please”.
It’s going to be great.
Nine years feels both as if we blinked and it’s zipped past in an instant and as if we’ve never not been married, probably because when you add on the seven years we were dating beforehand we’re rapidly approaching having spent half our lives together.
Together we have been on holidays, been to hospitals (only once at the same time but as that was our honeymoon it still looms large in the memories), climbed mountains and spent lazy days on the beach. We’ve seen moments of pure unbridled happiness and utter wretched grieving despair. And through it all H has been my constant, my rock, the one person who will always have my back and the one person who will always know how to make me smile.
It’s such a cheesy phrase to say that he is the other half of me, but I think it sums us up very well; he is the other half of me, and I am the other half of him, and together we are balanced. There’s so much about us that could on the surface seem like polar opposites; he’s much more social, where I like just chilling out at home; he’s ridiculously sporty whereas I’ve taken nine years to learn how to catch (I’m pretty sure I’ve only recently passed my indoor throwing test and I’m always slightly surprised when something lands up in my hand*), I’m the eternal optimist where he tends to worry and fret, even when there’s absolutely no need, and I’ve definitely got the better sense of direction. We each fill in where the other needs a helping hand.
Perhaps after all this time I should have something profound to say about marriage, not advice exactly, because I think everyone is happy in their own way and the key to a happy marriage is something you have to look for yourself, but a sort of summary of what marriage means to us.
And yet I think perhaps this evening sums it up best of all. I’m writing this on the evening of 21st. Pip, the girls and I have had a wonderful day out in the sunshine, the girls spent the morning in some very involved sort of water play that got them and the surrounding area very wet and this afternoon we headed up to the playpark for an hour or so and by the end of supper all three children were wailing; Pip because he thought I was going to leave the table without him, Elma because she’d had a catnap before supper but was still utterly exhausted yet still determined that it was not bedtime, and Kitty because she wanted an ice lolly for pudding and we have a no sugar after supper rule.
Eventually we got them all up to bed, I nursed Pip and he fell asleep and then went in to Elma who was just ridiculously wakeful, and all the milk and cuddles and settling down in the world wasn’t going to do the trick. I bribed her with Sylvanians and left her to try to settle herself but before too long we heard the familiar thud-pitter-patter of a little girl on the loose, and then Pip woke up and all I could see was the evening stretching ahead running between each child. And it’s not that I begrudge them the attention, if they need me, I will be there, it’s just that for my well being, I need to have a little time in the day when they’re all asleep, when I’m not ‘on’ and when I can do the things that make me Carie as well as Mummy. It’s the days after evenings when that doesn’t happen that so often turn out to be the hard ones.
I didn’t say anything to H, just got on with settling Pip and hoping Elma would stay quiet enough that he would go to sleep, but apparently I don’t need to say anything; H picked up Elma, put her shoes and dressing gown on, found her blankie and took her out in the car. They went to the shops to buy me a new pair of washing up gloves, the apple pie that is currently warming in the oven, and the loo cleaner that I forgot to buy on Monday, and then H drove around in the twilight until Elma was asleep, brought her home and tucked her into bed. And me, well I settled Pip and then snuck downstairs to read trashy articles on the internet, to catch up with some of my favourite blogs, and to write.
And that, for us, is nine years of marriage. It isn’t grand romantic gestures, or expensive presents, vast gardens of flowers or lengthy declarations of love, it is quite simply knowing what the other truly needs, and giving it, selflessly and as completely as possible.
(Nine years and three children later – spot the difference)
*In reading this out to H he tells me that actually I haven’t passed the throwing test, I have a dispensation. And just because I’m sure you’re all really confused now, the indoor throwing test is how we tell the girls they can’t throw in the house but can thrown in the garden, as in “put that down, you haven’t passed your indoor throwing test yet!”