“When was the last night we slept in the same bed?” I asked Z today. “I don’t know. Forever?” he replied. Me, “No, really. When was it?” Z, “I really can’t remember. Since the bed and breakfast?” Me, “Well, we haven’t had a full night since then. But we started out in the same bed until….New Year’s? The first hospital trip?” Z, “Huh, guess that’s right.” Me, “I hope we get to sleep in the same bed for the whole night tonight.
C hasn’t slept well during the whole trip, which is unusual for him. After I’d nursed him an ungodly number of times in the night Z would decamp to a bed or piece of floor near him to spend the rest of the night with him. And since New Year’s we’ve played musical beds. Every night it seemed sleeping arrangements changed. The baby and me upstairs, Z with T. My dad downstairs, me with my mom and C with us. My dad with T, Z puking his guts out downstairs, me with C–then me puking my guts out and Mom with C. Different story every night as the cast of sick characters changed or C puked on one pack n play and needed to be moved elsewhere.
All week I was surrounded by family, but it was a strangely lonely experience. On the drive to the hospital, the time in the hospital itself Z and I were together and we were grateful for each other’s company. But it was not quality time. It was not quality comfort we provided to each other. We were too exhausted and frightened. And when we are exhausted and frightened we don’t have a hell of a lot of patience for each other. The shit that drives us up the wall about each other on the best of days feels 85 times more annoying. He is the person in the world I am closest to, the person who knows me the best. If I’m going to lose my shit on anyone he is the safest.
So we tried to be there for each other. And we snipped at each other more than we should have. And we missed the physical and somehow restorative act of just sharing a bed. I sleep better when I’m with him. I can reach out my left foot and warm it on his calf and I feel safe. I roll my eyes at his snoring knowing full well that I snore as well.
Our little family, our gang of four feels like forever. But it is an illusion. We get our family for about 20 years. And then it breaks up for good. The kids go. We did it. Our parents did it. Our boys will do it, too. I want our sons to feel secure in our little family. I want them to feel like it is forever. That their mother and father will always be there for them. Because we will be as long as we are alive. My parents gave me that gift, I still feel so secure in their love and care. And they proved it during this trip. They took care of my whole family. I will always be grateful to them for it.
But now we’ve left, and while I don’t think they were cheering to have us leave, I know they aren’t bummed to see out backsides. They have their own life to get back to. While we were visiting they celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. And here’s the thing. They still dig each other. They gave my sister and me the security of a wonderful family life while never losing sight of the fact that they needed to nurture their own relationship because that is the one that is forever if you are lucky enough to get it right.
Zeke is my best friend as well as my husband. In 20 years he will still be my everyday family. Or at least I hope he will be. Who knows what the next two decades will hold? When we go through tough shit I’ve got to remind myself to be gentler with him and with us.
Hell, even without the drama of the last week we have to remind ourselves to be nice to each other. Two kids who are still toddlers put an enormous strain on any relationship. This year is so much harder than last year. A smart mom friend told me it would be and she was 100% right. But it will get better. We just need to remember each other, what we like about each other. We need to make time for ourselves. We need more nights away. We need to keep trying.
It’s hard. We fail all the time. I take out my shit on him, he does the same to me. But we try. We are committed to trying. He got me a gift certificate to a hotel in Syracuse for Christmas. We are going to have to cash that puppy in as soon as humanly possible. We just need to get home in one piece first.
And listen, this is what I want for my marriage, for Z and me. Who the hell knows what will happen? I’m still scared everyday that we won’t make it. We can still try and lose everything. We can think we are trying and realize we don’t know each other anymore one day. Our chances aren’t better than anyone else’s. It’s 50% baby. But in 20 years I agonistic pray he is still by my side.
The wind resistance provided by the car topper is going to make 11 hours of mountain driving extremely exciting tomorrow.
T won’t sleep, the baby is crying, we are supposed to be on the road at 6am, and I swear to god I’ve aged 5 years this week.
We are not feeling it. Individually or collectively. Fingers crossed we’ll be near Syracuse in 24 hours time….