My husband and I are nine months apart in age, a fact that tugs on my heartstrings as I think I was put on this Earth just for him. My mother remembers a snowy February and how everyone was house bound back in 1978. The details start to come to her and I abruptly end the conversation, having gathered enough to confirm what I needed to have my whimsical, romantic theory.
In retrospect, the years it took us to find each other weren’t the hard part. Sure it was lonely and at times frustrating, with nights full of R.E.M. songs in the dark. But those in relationships know the truth. Being "we" instead of "I" is the challenge. And marriage with a child is even harder.
In the first few months of parenthood I understood why couples get divorced, why the fatigue and arguments wear you down and how tiny breaks in a marriage can form. There are times even now when we are almost unrecognizable to each other. Times when our marriage turns into an unfamiliar dance. One where the tempo speeds up and one of us must lead the other when the steps change.
I’ve learned that the true meaning of “making it work” isn't necessarily a compromise of who has control over the remote or what kind of bread is better like when we were first married. Its one of us taking a shower while the other is on the toilet and knowing that may be the only time we get to do those things and have a meaningful conversation without interruption. It’s a back rub, a nice dinner, or just letting the other person have some time to his or herself. Its listening and letting each other know at times we just don’t have the head listen. It’s holding hands in the car, happy there isn't a Fresh Beats song on for once and enjoying the quiet, knowing there is so much to say and content there is no energy to say it. It’s being a pendulum, ready to swing the other into motion when one of us is about to give up. It’s pushing ourselves when we know the other needs us. It’s loving each other so much after so much time together. And knowing all our worries will somehow work themselves out because despite our tattered edges, we are two pieces that perfectly fit.
Valentine’s Day without a boyfriend always made me think I wasn’t special. That no one would find all that makes me, me, a compliment to what makes them, them. I hope my daughter never feels this way and is showered with roses, chocolates and sweet messages. But all kids suffer heartbreak. So in fourteen years I’ll sit on her bed, pop in Adele’s Greatest Hits and help her finish a tub of ice cream. I’ll remind her what this day is really about and how a day on the calendar exists for her too. She just doesn’t know it yet. The day when you help that special someone blow out his birthday candles, happy you have finally found him. Knowing despite all the distance in time and space, he was brought into this world just for you.