Fourteen years ago I was a second grade teacher living in an apartment in the suburbs. I had moved out of my mom’s house just a month earlier. I was about forty pounds overweight as I hadn’t quite figured out that no matter how much I went to the gym, I couldn’t eat Wendy’s for dinner every night and be thin. I had never traveled to Europe as I always thought I would. I was only one year out of college. I drove a convertible that I stupidly bought when I had a perfectly good free car to drive. Despite my ignorantly made bad decisions about money and food, I was blissfully happy. I thought I had the whole world ahead of me and already figured out. I had a partner in crime and we got along beautifully. I thought he’d complete my life. He was my best friend.
I thought we were ready because we were realistic about what marriage meant. We talked about tough stuff like money and kids and jobs and our future. I was never afraid that I didn’t know where I stood. No wonder I was so happy. Then again, I did say I was stupid right?
The truth is, we had no idea. We were under no illusion, even at 24, that this would be easy. We had great marriage role models and we saw that happy was a relative term. There were no hopes for fairytale happily ever after, even on that wedding day.
BUT (Yes, an all caps but) we really didn’t know what hard work meant. Neither one of us realized how much you grow between 24 and 38. We thought we were already grown-ups. We weren’t. We didn’t know our goals would change. We didn’t fully understand what compromise was or what hard work really looked like. When we promised richer or poorer, sickness and health, those were just words, not actual concepts we could comprehend. We didn’t know that real life would bring plenty of sickness and poor, right when we weren’t ready for it. We didn’t understand team work in real life, when jobs are lost, dreams are dashed and babies come.
At 24 , it’s hard to predict your future because you may think you know who you are, but you don’t. Because, at 24, probably, the shit hasn’t hit the fan yet, and it’s only then that you REALLY figure out who you are.
Let me stop. I hate when people talk about marriage as if it’s some death sentence. Hard Work has become synonymous with impossible or terrible or not worth it.
Here’s what I think: hard work is what makes it all good. The honest truth is that in fourteen years The Husband and I have worked ourselves to the bone. We’ve fought and stressed and sometimes talked ourselves sick. We’ve compromised and sacrificed and maybe even questioned the whole damn thing.
But you know what? We’ve also laughed ourselves silly and rested comfortably in the knowledge that no matter how hard life tries to knock us down, someone will always be there to hold us up.
For every minute we’ve worried over money, we’ve grown thankful for our fortunes. For every conversation about our diverging goals, we’ve stood in unity to double our strength. For every late night panic attack over being responsible for other human beings, we have marveled at the three blessings that make our life whole. For every trial, there is an equal and opposite triumph that is made that much sweeter by the notion that we get to do it together.
Fourteen years brings a lot of change. Fourteen years brings a lot of growth. Fourteen years also brings a lot of fun, a lot of joy and a whole lot of hard Team work. So much has changed for that 24 year old girl. But one thing remains the same: she married her best friend, and together they can take on the world.
Here’s to many more Mr.King. Many, many more.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.