Marriage Moments with a Cougar and Her Cubs by Melissa Swedoski
My second official Mother’s Day came and went, and I learned some valuable lessons. First, I learned my husband has awesome graphic design skills, as he created a personalized card for me using pictures of our girls along with some clever quips. The cover was a picture of our 1 year old, eyes wide as to almost bulging, captioned with, “Was I supposed to get you something for Mother’s Day?!” Priceless. It will officially now be my favorite Mother’s Day card. Forever.
The very same day, I left my partner in parenthood crime to visit my sister for a week, taking the girls with me. No sweat, I thought. People do this all the time. It’s only a week.
Um, can you pass me my bag of jelly beans, please? And that bottle of Valium sitting nearby.
As hard as being a new mom is, as hard as it was having two under the age of 2 for a while, and as hard as it is to squeeze in a shower, I had absolutely no idea how hard it is to be a single parent. So the second thing I’ve learned (so far) this week is, if I didn’t have my parenthood partner in crime, I would be a stark, raving lunatic. My hat is off to all the single moms and dads out there, because you don’t get nearly enough credit, but you get plenty of people telling you their opinions. I say, don’t listen to any of them. You are doing an amazing job.
The third thing I’ve learned this week is – holy crap! – I love my husband. I know, I probably should have figured that out by now. When we met, we were working at a small daily newspaper, he in the advertising department and me over on the editorial side. Those two departments don’t usually like each other – mainly because each thinks they are the most important – but what can I say? We’re rebels. He was only 20 when we originally met, while I was already 33. Don’t get all up in arms on me. 1) I did not pursue him. and 2) He was 21 when we did hook up. (okay, now you can get all up in arms) Trust me, I judged myself plenty. Even my mom, who was very wise in such things, told me to tread lightly. But my dad, who met my future husband when he stopped by the house I was renting looking for me during one of my parents’ weekend visits, said, “He’s got it bad.”
We have worked together every day since we met. We owned a business where we shared an office, every day. We’ve never been apart more than two days, and not any since our children were born. People scratch their heads and say, “I could never work with my husband/wife. We’d drive each other crazy.” I can’t imagine not working with him anymore. Who else would put up with me?
My husband has taught me acceptance, no matter what society or the baggage you’re carrying around tells you. He has taught me to have fun, every day. Not everything has to be somber and serious every moment. He gave me the gift of true love, telling me I’m beautiful when I know I’m not, complementing my work, even when I think it’s sub-par, and supporting me when the postpartum depression became too much. And he loved my mom almost as much as I did, holding my hand during her funeral and listening to my late night sobs for months.
And in the end, he took the insane roller coaster ride of infertility treatments without complaining or grumbling or losing hope. He’s the one who said – after failed IVF attempts, after judgments from those around us – “We’ll make great parents because we will love our children, no matter what. Come what may.” (our song, in case you haven’t seen Moulin Rouge) He changes diapers, gives baths, fixes meals, combs hair, hangs swings in trees, comes up with creative outdoor games, and shoulders the burden that is parenthood. And he makes marriage grand. A lucky cougar and her cubs, indeed.