We sat on our hand-me-down couches in our small basement suite, in front of our gold blinds watching our tiny TV and trying to figure out what to do next. Our landlords had decided with no notice to up our rent, and limit our laundry days. Their daughter had just moved home again and was having loud parties until the early morning hours and one night we are pretty sure a bowling ball was dropped from standing height onto the floor. It is the only way to explain that 2am noise that startled us both awake.
We’d been married less than two months and living together for the same amount of time. We still had wedding presents in boxes in the corner of the living room waiting to find a home in our tiny kitchen.
We were 22. He had been living on his own since he was 19, and I had moved out of my parents house the night after our wedding. We were YOUNG. Both Marco and I are the oldest child. We were the first ones to get married and move out of our families houses. Being newlyweds at 22 was SO exciting. I remember the first time I went out to a party thinking, “I don’t have to tell anyone where I am. My parents have no idea where I am right now and that’s ok!”
My first thought was, “Well we have to ask our parents. Get their advice. See what they would do.” Maybe Marco could call his parents too and get their take on the situation. Even though I knew we were now two married adults, my instinct when a problem arose, no matter how small, was to reach out and talk to my parents. To ask for their help, to get their advice. Everytime a dinner I made turned out, I called my Mom to tell her with pride what I had made. Everytime it was time to apply for student loans, we would call our parents to get their thoughts. Everytime my car made a funny noise, Dad got a call. Even though we were married, we were still very much a part of our own individual families.
They say you can’t choose your family.
We still identified strongly with being a part of our individual families. The fact that we were embarking on our own adventure and starting our own family and creating our own identity was lost on us. If someone had asked me to think of my family, I would have thought of my parents, and siblings immediately. I wanted to maintain ALL of my families traditions. We were very much ingrained in our individual families identities.
We got pregnant within a year of being married, and when our son was born we were bombarded with advice from family. As all new parents experience, much of the advice is asked for and some of it not so much ;) We quickly realized that we hadn’t had or taken the time to build our own family identity. It was a huge struggle for us….we were trying to finish college, (I went into labour during one of Marco’s final exams! he answered all C’s for the rest and passed!), we were trying to start our own businesses, and raise a newborn all within those first two years of being married.
We were a little lost for those years. We didn’t have a clear sense of what our values were. We didn’t know who we were as a family, and what we wanted from our life. We at times, let our families traditions and values influence our own more than they should have. Don’t get me wrong, we both come from AMAZING families with incredible support from both sides and couldn’t have done what we did without either of them!
I’m not sure when it happened, but we started to shift. We slowly started growing into our own family. We have maintained a few of our individual family traditions, but we’ve also added many more of our own new ones. When I think of my family now, I picture Marco and the kids immediately. I no longer feel like I’m pretending to be an adult, like someone is going to come along and tell us we are too young to be doing this. I feel settled and content in our life and we are us. We have our own identity. We’ve become our own family. We have our own values.
I look at Marco, and I see the family we’ve fought to build and the life we’ve grown together. I see this man who has seen me at my absolute worst, who has fought alongside me through post partum depression, who has celebrated the success of my business, who has encouraged me in every goal I’ve ever set for myself, who has patiently pulled over on the side of the road when I had too much to drink at a friends wedding, who laughs at my jokes even when they aren’t funny, who eats every bite of dinner when it doesn’t turn out, who will quietly (although not happily) sit next to me while I power through all 10 seasons of Friends or Greys Anatomy for the fifth time and most importantly a man who gives me space to be me. He lets me grow, learn, fail, be my stubborn cranky self, and he lets me take down my walls and just be me, and he never judges, he almost always laughs but he always always has loved me.
They say you can’t choose your family, but I chose mine.
I chose him, and I chose him everyday. I don’t care how cliche it sounds. Being married, next to parenting is the hardest, most rewarding thing I have ever done. This didn’t happen by accident, and I don’t believe I am “lucky”. I chose him and he chose me, God put us in each others paths for a reason, and we have worked our butts off to build something beautiful. It’s not beautiful because it’s perfect, far from it, it’s beautiful because it’s ours. It’s beautiful because we are both invested and present. We chose everyday to show up, let ourselves be seen, and to love each other no matter what life throws at us. This sometimes means slamming door fights where I wonder how the heck we are ever going to get past this, (haha which usually happen cause someone forgot to clean something up or some other mediocre unimportant thing that suddenly becomes the most important thing in our entire lives.) but it also means the cuddles, the lying in bed together at 2am cuddling cause we got woken up when a bowling ball got dropped on the floor. It means getting to come home to my best friend every day, it means having endless inside jokes, it means having a new level of intimacy that we’ve never experienced with anyone else.
So here’s to 8 years of glorious, messy, chaotic, challenging, rewarding, happy, and love filled years. I couldn’t imagine spending them with anyone else, and I can’t wait for the next many many many years.
Happy Anniversary Marco :)