Tag Archives: anniversary

Crazy Eight

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Today, KJ and I are celebrating our 8th anniversary. (Yay us! We made it through the reputed “itchy” year!) It feels like we should be getting credit for more than eight, because we actually met 17½ years ago when his brother married my childhood friend. Our history is long and complicated and full of drunk dialing and tearful diary entries. (I won’t tell you whom is responsible for which… )

Suffice it to say that he has been very important to me for a very long time.

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Taken a long time ago, when our biggest stress was which Jazzfest weekend to attend.

I don’t write about KJ or marriage very often on this blog, mostly because he is an adult and his life stories are his to share. Or not share, as the case may be. (But he does have some doozies, so next time you see him, ask him to tell you a few of them. Buy him a few beers first and the stories get even funnier.)

But today I’m going to make an exception. I’m going to share a few of my thoughts about marriage, and similar to my thoughts on parenting, it’s not all sparkly and pretty and happy unicorn glitter because, well, marriage can be hard. (Don’t worry KJ… I come around to complimenting you, I promise.)

We’ve all heard the expression that “marriage is work,” and while that’s definitely true, I’ve discovered that marriage also includes waiting. Because like so many other things in life – parenting, productivity, creativity – marriage has its “up-cycles” and “down-cycles.”

The up-cycles are magic. You and your spouse are connecting. You’re laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  You’re communicating. You’re getting stuff done. You’re bringing out the best in each other and you’re making each other happy. It’s all just working. You’re connected.

That’s the easy part.

But inevitably, the up-cycle ends and you hit a down-cycle, and things are just a little bit off. Maybe there’s work stress or family drama or uncooperative hormones… whatever the cause, the down-cycles are… yuck. Both of you are a little bit more annoyed… and a little bit more annoying. You’re not communicating well and there may be just a tiny bit of bickering.

Down-cycles are about disconnect.

A down-cycle can last for weeks or it can last a day. (And I remember seeing an old couple on Oprah once who said they hated each other for a year. That’s a helluva long down-cycle but they were celebrating their 75th anniversary, so they must have done something right.) Sometimes you can talk your way through it, but sometimes, you just have to wait it out.

It has taken me eight 17½ years to learn that the up-cycles and the down-cycles are inevitable. Not every up-cycle means you’ve “figured it all out” and now have the perfect marriage. And more importantly, not every down-cycle means you have a shitty relationship that is destined to fail. There are highs and there are lows. And as the years go by, the goal is to make the up-cycles last longer and longer.

(I promise KJ, the nice part is coming.)

What I’m trying to say is that when you choose to spend the rest of your life with a person, he or she should be someone that’s fun and funny and makes you laugh and loves you and respects you and all of that. Because when you’re in the HIGHs, nothing is better than having that partner by your side.

But you should also choose someone who is knows there will be lows and is worth the lows, because there will be times when things feel annoying and disjointed and crappy. You have to want to get out of it. You need someone that’s in for the long haul – a safety net. You have to choose a person who will be waiting on the other side of the down-cycle with a Margarita, saying, “Well, THAT sucked, but we’re back!”

I did.

I picked a guy who is fantastic in the up-cycles. He is funny and kind and interesting and supportive and a great father (although I’m not sure the smack talk during the Trouble games is setting a very good example) and we laugh. A lot.

But he’s also patient during the down-cycles. He’s not critical. He’s not angry. He just waits. We both wait. And then they come to an end.

Then things get great again. And we laugh. Again.

One of our favorite family quotes is when my very wise brother-in-law said, “Women are ALL crazy… it’s just a matter of finding the crazy you can live with.”

KJ, I’m so glad you decided that I’m the crazy you can live with.

Happy Anniversary… and cheers to many more years and many more up-cycles. 🙂

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Please note: For those of you wondering, KJ did get “previewing rights” for this post and has approved all points for public consumption – i.e. for the 18 of you.)

Grief

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The Loud One woke up cranky and lethargic, with a fever. Happy Dude was not so happy when two poop explosions (editor’s note: we’re now up to four) left him with a terrible diaper rash. And the Nibbit… well, he’s just been a little bit extra nibbity all day long. I forgot it was Beach Day at school, spilled rodent food all over the floor and then stubbed my toe trying to clean it up.

Yup, today sucks. But it’s April 11th so it all makes sense.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death.

Side note: If right now you’re saying, “Oh geez, not another post about her mom,” I say to you the following, in the nicest way: I warned you in the last post this one was coming. If you’re looking for parenting foibles, don’t you worry, I’ll be back with plenty of those really soon.

I completely GET IT if you can’t do negativity today… maybe today is your birthday or maybe you’re just feeling so happy that it’s getting warmer or maybe it’s the anniversary of your first Starbucks drink – what? You don’t celebrate that?  If that’s the case, I do not want to bring you down. Signoff and come back in ten days. I promise I’ll be back with a fun kids-really-know-how-to-screw-up-a-vacation post.

But for me, it’s a shitty day. It’s a symbolic shitty day, but for some reason, the symbolism somehow always manifests itself in fevers and poop explosions and stubbed toes. And I can’t speak for everyone that has lost a loved one, but talking about my Mom and grief – and even more so, writing about it – makes today slightly less shitty. (Not to mention that I know she loves the attention…)

I have debated whether or not this blog – a place mostly intended to make light of parenting difficulties and my massive flaws in managing them – is a place for it (grief, drama, sappiness, sadness) and then I have decided that yes, yes it is. Because it’s alllll connected….

OK, on that existential note, let’s move on.

Grief is tricky.

It’s true that time heals. After a loss, every moment of every day is painful. That gets better. You start having more OK moments than not-OK moments. Then, some happy ones creep in. You start laughing more and the shock waves of sadness come less often. Not never – it won’t ever be never – but less often. (I was channeling Taylor Swift there for a minute.)

BUT (and here’s where I get REALLY Debbie Downer)…

There is one way in which the feeling of loss gets worse, deeper. At least in my case, it’s the fact that as time passes and the years go by, the amount of life I have lived without my Mom has increased, so I experience more and more important life moments, and therefore create more memories, without her. That is very, very sad. Therefore, my grief is worse. (Wow, that was kind of like math.)

In the ten years since my Mom died, a LOT of life-changing shit has happened to me.

I re-met KJ (in fact, it was my Mom’s funeral that brought us back together… I like to think of it as her final act in my life… but that’s a different post), planned a wedding, got married, had a baby, moved to the suburbs and had two more babies and I simply cannot believe I’ve done all of that without her.

I’ve lived an entire grown-up lifetime without her.

None of this is new… I wrote about all of it right here. I wrote about how hard it is to be a mother, without a mother. And that will never change.

Because that’s how grief works. You’re mostly fine until it sneaks up on you out of the blue one day and knocks you down.

The other day, Happy Dude was hacking up a lung and I wanted to give him cough medicine, but it was labeled, “Age 4 and under: do not give.” I debated whether he was too young… yet, he weighs as much as some four-year olds, so it must be fine. Right? There are a lot of people I could have called to ask for advice – my sister, friends, his pediatrician – but I wanted my Mom. She’s not here. So I cried.

I know I do not have to detail all of the events that make me miss my Mom. Because so many of you are living through them as well. If you’re lucky enough to have your Mom with you, than you get it. And if you’re not, than you get it more. (And if that’s the case, I hope you’ll join me for Margaritas on Mother’s Day.)

I felt it after I had each of my kids. I had the normal “baby blues” to a certain extent – but it was coupled with a feeling of complete homesickness that I know came from missing her.

And there it is. Today, I am homesick for my Mom.

A few days ago, on her birthday, we had a toast to DiDi at dinner. I heard some of the same questions I’ve heard before from the kids… is DiDi in heaven? (Yes.) Do you wish you could see her? (Very much so.) I missed her, but I laughed at my kids talking about their visions of heaven. I wished she was there to see them, to meet them, but I didn’t cry.

Most days are easier. Some days are hard.

Some moments are impossible.

Grief is tricky.

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Lucky #7

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Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of the best party I have ever attended. EVER. It had everything I love about a good party… great food, lots of drinks, a candy bar, a chocolate fountain, lots of dancing, late-night DJ playing Bon Jovi and Bruce to a Jersey-centric crowd, and most importantly, almost all of my closest friends and family. The party was my wedding, so you may think I’m biased, but honestly, I’m being completely objective when I say that it was the best party ever in the history of ever.

Anyway, it has been a pretty busy seven years for us. We had only started living together a few weeks before we got married, so there was THAT whole transition. (I’m talking about the proverbial “He really leaves the cap off the toothpaste? People really do that?” arguments discoveries.)

And then there was the whole “having 16 kids in four years” thing. So almost immediately we were debating the pros and cons of having an amnio instead of debating Indian vs. Thai food (spoiler alert: naan wins.) We started talking about cribs and diapers instead of Jazzfest and Phish shows. And the biggest change… like sooo many other brave Suburban Migrators before us, we went from an awesome apartment in the Village to suburban life – minivan, swingset, soccer fields and all.

The point is, that as we drove down to the Jersey Shore on our 7th Anniversary – I mean, how else would anyone spend their 7th Anniversary duh – I started thinking about how seven years is when you’re supposed to get that itch or something?

But I couldn’t help but wonder.. who the hell has time for a rash? (Ba dum dum. I was going for Carrie Bradshaw there… did you get it?)

No, I really started thinking – as best I could from the middle row where I sat so that I could dole out goldfish the glassy-eyed kids who would only remove their eyes from “Hotel for Dogs” to HIT EACH OTHER and then ask for more snacks – and this is what I realized:

These are our Salad Years.

Go ahead. Take a moment to relish in the profoundity. (Shut up; it’s a word now.)

I mean it, SALAD YEARS. OK, let me take you through my whole internal dialogue (and external yelling) during that car ride. And this is honestly, 100% completely how it went down in my brain:

Seven years. Hmmm. Feels like longer. Maybe because we’ve been macking out* for 20 years. Or maybe because we had all these freaking kids in – Hey guys, a little less screaming back there – a short period of time. But you know what? We are really so lucky. So blessed. We are going to look back on this time and – Loud One, please stop reaching out and waving your hands in The Nibbit’s face – realize that these were great times. Sure the kids can be – Nibbit, PLEASE STOP IT. Saying, “Neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh” over and over again is neither cute charming nor– slightly less than perfect, but they’re mostly sweet and – I AM  NOT  KIDDING. KNOCK IT OFF – cute and funny. We’re going to think back and remember being able to travel with Grandma and Grammy & Pop and the cousins – Shhhhhhhhh! – and how are biggest concerns were sleep schedules and – PLEASE do not wake Happy Dude up – meal-planning. I think these are what they call the Salad Years. Wait, is that right? Why do they call good times “salad years” anyway? – QUIET GAME TIME! – I’m going to have to Wiki that one because that’s ridiculous.** The really good times should be called something like … the Sugar Years. Or the Heavy Carbs Years. Although maybe it applies to the fact that right now, my biggest stress is that I really should be eating less sugar and heavy carbs and more salad. Huh. What do you know, it IS appropriate.

So.

Despite my rambling train[wreck] of thought, my [cheesy as it may be] overall sentiment remains the same… I feel truly blessed

I have an incredible family. Seriously, like the best one of the planet. If there were Olympics for families, mine would be like the Russian gymnasts, Nigerian runners, Jamaican bobsledders and Michael Phelps all rolled into one team.

I have amazing friends. Old friends – who are top of mind as I spend time at the Jersey shore (minus the Steve Miller, Sun-In and baby oil) – and new friends who make me feel like life in the suburbs is actually going to be really fun.

And most importantly, I have one super awesome friend that agreed to be my date at the best party I’ve ever attended and say “Yup, I do.” (Get it? It’s KJ.) Twenty years of friendship, seven years of marriage. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns Margaritas and beer but it’s damn close.

Trust me when I say that I am lucky in a zillion ways. I mean it. A zillion. You know how they say “count your blessings?” Well, I did. And it took a loooooong time. (And then it took even longer to knock on every piece of wood in the WORLD so as not to jinx my lucky ass.)

So, we celebrated seven years.

Yup, these are the Sugar Days for sure.

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*Note to my very supportive Dad who reads all of these posts even though this type of blog is most definitely not his cup of coffee: “macking out” means hanging out innocently and doing things like reading the newspaper together. It most definitely is not a term that was created by my college roommates to reflect the kissing behaviors of one Krissy Mac.)

**It turns out that Wiki says that “Salad days” is an “idiomatic expression, referring to a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person,” which, while I don’t feel particularly youthful or enthusiastic now, MAY be perfectly accurate when we look back in 20 years. 

PS. One final note… for those of you that are questioning my use of “Salad Years” because it’s usually phrased as “Salad Days,” I say this: you are taking this blog too seriously. Stop it.