Jared tells me stories. Really great ones. It’s one of the many things that made me fall for the guy. One of the many, many, mountain of many, things. That and his amazing ability to fancy up a box of mac and cheese. Swoon.
In the early years (can you say that once you hit that magic decade mark?), in those days they were about our future home or travels or even just regular Tuesdays. He was so good about including small details, my weird idiosyncrasies, that they seemed very real. Like days he was remembering instead of imagining. It felt inevitable that these hours of the future would happen. I remember laying in the dark, smiling, because I couldn't wait for whatever it was he just spoke about.
Some of my very favorite, burned to memory stories were about our future children. About Halloweens and Christmas mornings, all the good stuff. The stuff you picture before you have kids. So weird how you don't daydream about your kid peeing on the dog or running away from you in the grocery store. Yielding a broom. And a hard roll in a bag. Just me?
When I find out people are expecting their first kid, I remember all that imagining we did. I relay this excitement in a way that borders on creepy because the hope for our lives as a family without having any idea what it would actually be like hits me hard. I remember!
My kids are only two and .5 years, so clearly no expert on motherhood, but turns out those big events haven’t been the best moments for me. They're good, surreal even. Like I can’t believe I’m the mom that makes (or cough supervises the making of cough) Batman costumes and Valentine’s pancakes. It’s like when you visit a famous monument or art piece. You’ve seen it so many times in books or videos and then there you are, standing in front of it, in real life. You think, “I can’t believe I’m here, looking at this!”
I say that to Jared, “I can’t believe we’re here, doing this. For our very own children.”
But those big moments aren’t the best. For me, at least. For me, some of the very best moments can happen when it seems the most tedious. I had one of those instances a couple of days ago and I keep closing my eyes going back to it. I had just come home from work to two sleeping babes. I felt like I won the lottery. Jared had to rush out the door and try to get a few hours of work in but for once I didn't care. I had two sleeping kids. Late naps. Late naps!
I sat down and pictured, get this, nothing. I’m pretty sure my brain is unable to function most of my waking hours. Then Gray woke. Bummer. Five minutes later the dumb dog barked at an ambulance and that was that. Phin woke up crying because, well, that’s how dreams are broken. He was in one of those, terrible, woke up too early, nothing could calm him moods and was wailing at the top of his lungs. I was trying to calm him while soothing a now screaming Gray and shush my barking dog. Nothing was working and then Gray was screaming and Phin was coughing, boogers everywhere, and, and, and.
It went on for a good thirty or forty minutes. I managed to get everyone clean. Somehow, while balancing my two year old on one hip and my five month old in the opposite arm, got a cup of milk for my Phinny and the three of us made our way to the couch. I laid Phin across my lap one direction, Gray half on top of him the other and cradled both their sweet boy heads in my arms. Phin closed his eyes and sipped on his cup. Gray went right to sleep.
And suddenly it was quiet. After all that chaos I had two peaceful children in my arms. I was too exhausted to think beyond, “Wow, that sucked,” for a few minutes. Luckily it lasted long enough for me to move past that. I realized that my days of little boys and little babies that fit in my arms are incredibly limited. So I sat there in the quiet and stared down at those two perfect for me kids and thought, “I can’t believe I’m here, doing this. I can’t believe I get to see this in real life.”
Maybe a little saccharine. I don’t care. I really needed it.
Now I’m remembering this story Jared told me five or six years ago. It was about one of those regular days. We were all in the back yard and it was late afternoon and cold. I was laying in the hammock with two babies snuggled under blankets while Jared did yard work. In his story we were talking and the kids were just content. I remember this because a few nights ago, on that hard turned sweet night, Jared came home. By now we were splayed all over the couch. Jared plopped down and we just talked for a few minutes. And it was just like the story.
So what I’m saying is, don’t let anyone tell you fairy tales, or future life as told by your spouse tales don’t come true. Sometimes they do.