I'm dismayed to be posting this a day behind schedule, but yesterday became such a whirlwind that I'm only finding the time to acknowledge our milestone now. Yesterday Daryl and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary! Of course we're parents to a toddler now, so it didn't end up being quite as glamorous as our first, our fifth, or even our seventh anniversary - even last year, when we celebrated having been together for eight years, we were parents to a squishy little six-month-old who was still happy to be toted around on our hips and eat little blobs of rice cereal off a spoon when she wasn't being breastfed every few hours.
This year, though, we were a united front working against a strong and opinionated toddler, fighting her second head cold in two weeks. I kid you not - she got over one, and then not four days later we're back to dealing with an ornery child with a strong and fervent hatred for having her nose wiped. Well sorry, kid - I dislike wiping your boogers probably as much as you hate having them wiped, and I'm sorry again and again when I inadvertently smear them all along one side of your face, but if we could only work together with an understanding that this'd go a lot smoother without your tiny hands shoving mine out of the way then we'd probably both be in ever so slightly better moods. Even though I won't do you the courtesy of leaving that rogue booger on your forehead. I don't know how it got there, but I'm not leaving it. Sorrynotsorry.
We had a fantastic morning together, out for breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants, then we drove to Minneapolis and walked around Lake Harriet, stopping for root beer floats and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
(Can you tell this was her first-ever lick of ice cream?)
The afternoon, though, post-nap, revolved around a trip to the mall to get some new shoes for this girl, who took us to battle and didn't relent until long after we were home again, and she was in bed for the night, and I was waving my white flag whilst assessing the damage to my spirit: realistically, I was down for the count, ready to set the universe aflame. Poor Daryl. We survived, though, and dined on Thai takeout and watched about half an hour of World War Z (worst movie ever), before turning it off and channel-surfing until my eyes would no longer stay open.
I'm getting off track, though. So yesterday Daryl and I celebrated nine years being married. What a feat! We've laughed, we've cried, we've yelled and cursed, we've traveled, we've eaten amazing food, and there's nobody in the world I'd rather do life with. I don't for a moment believe in soul mates, or that there's only one person out there for someone. I believe that love is a commitment, and a choice that we're called to make and re-make every day that we wake up together. It's effortless at some moments, and unspeakably hard at others - but having him by my side gives me a confidence and an assurance that goes beyond words. To have chosen Daryl, and to have been chosen by him, is a blessing that I don't for a moment take for granted.
Marriage is so often a delicate balance of push and pull, though it inevitably goes through seasons of all-push and all-pull. Daryl has pulled me back from the ledge more times than I can count, while I can say I've nearly pushed him off that same ledge more times than I dare mention. He's the embodiment of selfless giving, while I sit there and take. To say that I am undeserving would be an understatement - and yet somehow his unwavering loyalty reminds me that I am exactly as deserving as he makes me feel. Maybe one is a result of the other, or maybe it's a testament to how deeply loved and honored I feel when we're together.
It'd be a great injustice, though, to make this post too mushy, because as a rule, mushy we are not. Daryl has the most hilarious sense of humor - but so do I - so while we both compete with one another for the position of Funniest Person You Know, he'll always maintain that I'm number two (our friend Noah being number one), and he is number two also, of course, because I am numero uno funniest person in my universe.
But we have a good system in place. The officiant at our wedding, someone very dear to our hearts and a father figure to me, spoke about how Daryl and I are like eagles, gathering branch by branch, building a home together. We work earnestly to create a home for each other, and indeed we are home for each other. We've evolved tremendously over our last nine years together, but we've always managed to keep holding hands.
Even when he reaches out for mine and I say, "Ew. No. Your hands are too clammy."
"MY hands are clammy?! YOURS are clammy!" he says.
And I say, "Dude. They are not. I've never had clammy hands in my life."
To which he replies, "You know, I went to high school with a guy named Clammy Hands." Because Daryl Jokes all inevitably lead back to him telling me that he went to high school with some guy with a ridiculous name. ("You know, I went to high school with a guy named Pass Me that Wooden Spoon.")
And I retort, "Daryl, I'm really beginning to think that you never even went to high school at all."
Nine years ago, we were two little puppies who pinky-swore our commitment to stay together forever. It's been a real trip and I love my Daryl today more than I ever knew was humanly possible.