The baby is crying and I’m cooking dinner. The dog is barking at his shadow, or possibly a butterfly flapping its wings in China. The trash can is overflowing and I’ve asked you to empty it four times. I drop an eggshell onto the floor and suddenly, it’s a standoff between three parties. We all dive to reach it. I stand the victor, egg white dripping down my arm, while the dog returns to its monologue and our daughter starts a fresh wail in a new octave.
I am livid. I ask rhetorically whose fault it is that I’m wallowing in this domestic hell. You shrug from the couch, because your superpower is the ability to tune out all frequencies above or below “sportscaster”. I ask again, but louder, because I’m angry and my superpower is being an asshole when I’m mad. I’m being condescending because I know you hate it. We’re married, and we know how to hurt each other. You ignore me because there is nothing I loathe more than feeling as though I’m not being heard.
I bang pots and pans together as I cook. I open and close cabinets, roughly. I sigh, and groan, and make angry noises not normally associated with meal preparation in the absence of reality tv cameras. You rise from the couch and take the bag from trash. Before you slam the door, you answer my question. You say it’s my fault–because I married you.
I cried I was so angry. I washed dishes with tears rolling down my face. I let the anger well up inside me and I carried it around all night. I thought of every awful thing you’ve ever done and I held arguments in my own mind. I cursed you and made you feel guilty. In my head, I hurt your feelings. I picked at your weaknesses and pulled at your secrets, but as the water in the sink cooled–so did I. The anger slowly faded. If I stay within myself long enough, it almost always does. Because a short temper and a sharp tounge make no friends, and it’s easier, now, to realize that being able to clearly convey your every thought when you’re angry, isn’t actually a gift at all.
As I showered, I thought about you. About how stressed you must be. About how sometimes the sadness creeps up on you and turns you to stone. I thought about me. And how I spread myself too thin. About how no one expects me to do everything, that it’s a burden I place upon myself. I thought about how last week when you asked me to sit on the couch with you I told you (and myself) there wasn’t enough time. When, really, time is all we have right now.
I thought about what marriage looks like on tv and in movies. On social media and in good lighting. And I thought about how we looked tonight. That there wasn’t just egg dripping down my arm, that some of it found its way to my face.
Because you were right. For better or for worse, I married you. In a sickness that snuck up quietly to try and change our lives forever, and in health that allowed you to compete on the highest of levels. I married you. All of you.
The part that snores and takes forever to make a decision. The part that forgets to take out the trash and makes me try things I know are too spicy. The part that walked me to class in the 10th grade and told me one day we would get married in the 11th. The part that knows exactly how to settle me when my mind races too far and too fast. The part that sings and dances to make me smile. The part that let me travel the globe and still always makes me feel at home. I married you.
Today is better. The morning always is. I watch her run to you. She’s you made over. You smile as you scoop her easily with one hand, because she’s a giant, but you are, too. You slip your hand around my waist and pull me close. We look into the distance at another moving truck. Another future. And I know it’s going to be hard, and I know it’s going to be scary, and I know deep within myself there isn’t anyone else I’d rather be standing next to.
I lean into you and the words come back, but this time there’s more. And quietly, I thank God, I married you.
Note: A version of this post ran on Scary Mommy.Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, teacher, mother, wife, blogger, and the owner of the eponymous Liza Dora Books. Her writing has been in publications around the world and her books have been featured in both media and print. She’s sold books in over ten different countries and her titles have been both Amazon Hot New Releases and Amazon Bestsellers in their respective categories.