… the 55 year old steam engine

I had originally planned on titling this blog post “… the first 6 months” and centering it around the first 6 months of our marriage; the laughter, fun, tears and curve balls life has been very generous in throwing at us since saying I do.  So in full disclosure our 6 month anniversary was a month ago and as Mark and I were over the moon for the first 6 months my parents were celebrating 55 years together just a few short days later.  I had actually let their day slip by and had to be reminded by my dad a few days after.  In true Dad fashion he gently reminded me without guilt and explained that had I remembered I would have insisted on something big and elaborate and that is just not his style!  His conversation, like most began with a tag line to a story … hmmmm and we wonder where I get this writing thing from?!

Have I told you about the 55 year old steam engine”

In my mind I am picturing this old train, abandoned on a track somewhere covered in artistic graffiti with weeds as tall as the rusted wheels left with only the memories of its younger days as it ran from track to track carrying everything from cargo loaded box cars to ladies and gentleman who still believed in dressing for dinner.  As my mind wandered around those thoughts I listened as he told me stories of her last 55 years, how she had taken the good and bad in life and had remained steadfast in her commitment to carry out her responsibilities despite the hard times, despite her times of wanting to give up, despite those moments in life when no one would have ever blamed her for letting her steam run out.  My dad went on for a while and then it dawned on me … he wasn’t talking about an actual steam engine, but about my mom.  Now, I am not entirely sure how my mom feels about being called a 55 year old steam engine but I will tell you the analogy is certainly fitting.

The first six months have been hard.  I am not going to sugar coat this, nope not going to do that.  And yes, we have had so many amazing moments, so much fun … we have had our all night Netflix binges, late night dinner runs, last minute travels; we have laughed and talked even when we had nothing to talk about!  We have loved one another like we have never loved before; we have kissed in public and held hands when it has embarrassed our children.  It’s been the most amazing six months of my entire life and it has also been the hardest, most demanding six months of my entire life.  Yes, we have wanted to give up … that would be the easiest thing to do.  Yes, we have fought and cried and made up more than I have wanted to.  I have faced some of the toughest times in my life with this man and he has had to make decisions about his life, his career, his future all the while figuring out how to blend his old family with his new family and how to be a step-father, a provider, a new husband in a very unique family situation.  Anyone getting remarried at this stage in life is going to be faced with obstacles that is going to require a little extra work, maybe a little extra creativity in blending kids, careers, personalities and realize that the give and take is going to be just a bit more challenging than getting married in your 20’s when life was not nearly as demanding as it is today.  We knew what we were getting into … for the most part!  We knew the challenges that would present themselves and actually had already discussed ways to meet them head on and not allow them to get to the best of us.  We planned out our future, made a one year, five year and ten year plan of where we would be and what we would be doing.  This is where I am going to steal a most used quote from my husband …

…. and how’s that working out for you?

Okay, so maybe our 40 something year old selves forgot we weren’t 20 years old again, dating and having fun without a care in the world!!  I often think about and catch myself laughing out loud when I compare us today to when we first dated so many years ago and how our idea of what life will be like for us in the future is not much different twenty years ago and six months ago.  So here’s our reality check … life is real, it happens nothing like you plan it and you have two choices; you can give up, walk away and pray you never regret that decision or you look at one another and say this is going to work and make that happen.

When Mark and I first got married we had it pretty easy.  He had a good career, the kids seemed happy and settled and were adjusting to moms married life.  We had developed a good groove and it seemed to be working for us.  Mark and I had time for ourselves in between raising kids, blending families and figuring out a good balance of family time, Mark and Pam time and that time we all need for ourselves every now and then.  Then …. life happened.  It was just a little bump in the road every now and then.  Nothing we couldn’t figure out.  But then one curve ball turned into three and before long those curve balls became line drives hitting us smack in the face and knocking us flat on our asses.  Getting up became harder and harder with each fall but we always got up, no matter how much the effort or time that was needed.  I remember Mark looking at me one night and saying he had never worked so hard to make a relationship work as he was with ours.  I knew exactly how he felt.  But here’s the thing … I love this man.  I love this man like I have never loved before.  There are days I look at him and think how in the world did I get so lucky to have this second chance with him?  Then there are those days I want to lock him out of house and I think if only we were all this honest about our relationships.  My dad is carrying on about the last 55 years and I catch snippets of stories about times he and my mom have had when life was hard, fights they had and the times they wanted to give up.  Marriage is not perfect and if you are sitting here reading this, thinking to yourself that yours is … please, go have a fight maybe even two and then, only then can you tell me your marriage is perfect!  It’s no secret my parents have had their own share of line drives smack in the face; I have written about most of them!  And as much as I love my dad I know without a doubt it is my mom who has kept that marriage together, she is their steam engine and my dad could not have found a better way to describe the success of their 55 year marriage.  As a writer at times I have a hard time verbally expressing my feelings for Mark and how incredibly happy he does make and the happiness he has brought to my life, I fall short on this a lot.  But I recently heard a song that could not have described more perfectly our marriage …

“Andy (I Can’t Live Without You)”
You drink my whiskey without asking
You put your boots up on my couch
Drives me crazy to remind you
More than once to take the garbage out
You used my good towels on the dog
That’s the only thing I’ve asked you not to do
Most days I’d love to lock you out
I can’t live without you
The kitchen table ain’t for business
We should put the bills where they go
I guess you need an invitation
To the backyard to see that it needs mowed
You leave your whiskers in the sink
I’ve told you till I’m black and blue
You never worried what our neighbors think
I can’t live without you
‘Cause you’ve got my back
Even when I’m wrong
You’re the only one who knows
Me and my heart can’t get along
I got some reasons to cry
I can’t tell you which one
But you don’t ask no questions
You just hold me till I’m done
And when I’m looking to fight you flat refuse
I can’t live without you
You’re always voicing your opinion
You play your guitar way too loud
God I reckon it would kill you
To lift your finger, help me clean this house
You know your jokes ain’t all that funny
But I’ll keep on laughing if you want me to
Nobody understands why I love you
I can’t live without you
You’ve got my back
Even when I’m wrong
You’re the only one who knows
Me and my heart can’t get along
Well I got some reasons to cry
I can’t tell you which one
But you don’t ask no questions
You just hold me till I’m done
And when I’m looking to fight you flat refuse
I can’t live without you

So reading this you might be asking yourself if we are okay, is our marriage going to survive the bumps in the road, the line drives that leave us on our asses … how can she be so open about their struggles?  Aside from the openness and honesty my parents have shown me in their own marriage and their realistic approach in handling the good times as well as the bad times, I have come to realize that it is okay to admit everything is not perfect.  We are a society that has no tolerance for difficult times, for second, third and fourth chances or even for failure.  Have you looked at social media lately?  Everything, everyone must be perfect.  Perfect marriages, perfect children and perfect bodies.  We are raising our children with unrealistic expectations about life.  I want my children to know it is okay to fall, what will define them is how well they rise after the fall.  So yes, our marriage is just fine, no one worry!  Yes, we fight and we make up; we laugh and we cry; we most often do not share the same opinion on anything but I wouldn’t trade these times for anything and can’t wait for the next six months!

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