The Day I Lost the Cape

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I know my husband and I have gotten too busy when we begin to bicker through text messaging. A few weeks ago, such was the case.

Our morning began with a small request made lovingly.

“When you dress A, please remember to put the barrette in her hair.”

I may live in the genteel South, but my daughter’s barrettes serve more than an ornamental purpose: they hold back her untamed mane. If I don’t have the time for a real conversation with my husband, then scheduling a haircut is a luxury out of reach.

With a rushed family goodbye, I departed for my 8 a.m. class. And just before my second class began, I heard the vibration. In addition to the barrette, I had also asked my husband to snap a picture of the kids at preschool drop-off. Nothing brings sadness quite like missing Pajama Day. But, alas, a picture!

Only my screen seemed to validate distrust and incite a surprising anger.

Two kids. Two smiles. And no barrette.

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The Year My Husband Stole Christmas

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Five years ago, there was no tree, no stockings, and no cheesy Christmas card. I remember the pictures we took that season. I forced every smile.

To be honest, our marriage had crumbled. Sure, every friend and family member who was happily anchored offered sound advice:

“Never go to bed angry.”

“Always say I love you.”

And my personal favorite, “You’ll always have each other.”

But a miscarriage ruined everything. I wanted to keep trying. My husband wanted to finish his PhD. And it seemed we were in pursuit of different children.

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Boy Bands Ruined Me

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During my youth, my family could easily predict my mood. Happiness? Jay-Z. Sadness? Linkin Park. Teenage lust? Boy bands.

Looking back, I think what did me in on the latter was the cheesy charm.

“I’ll never break your heart.”

“You’re all I ever wanted.”

“For the rest of my life, you don’t have to think twice.”

These lyrics may have echoed across the globe, but for an insecure girl in a little mountain town with limited dating options, they offered a sunnier forecast.

Only what I didn’t realize then is this: I was sowing the seeds of future discontent.

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In Sickness

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I hold this fear that I will die before I see 35. I worry I won’t know my son and daughter as teenagers. The very thought of never meeting my grandchildren, indeed, takes my breath away.

But I am overall healthy. I run 3-4 days a week. I don’t drink. And my days are fueled by oatmeal, nuts, and vegetables.

Recently, however, I was quite ill. Six hours of vomiting – to be exact. The virus was so powerful that I found myself gasping for air between commode encounters. On a makeshift bed of well-used towels – given to us at our wedding – I laid myself down. At 2 a.m. the Earth is silent.

Until, that is, I heard a door creak.

“I think I’m dying!”

“No, you’re not.”

And, with that, a hand I know so well rubbed my back.

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Resisting the Seven-Year Itch

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My husband and I designed our home to be a space of freedom and exploration for our children, but one area remains off-limits: the corner of our main hallway. In this nook resides our wedding invitation and my dried bouquet. They rest upon a table built by my groom – an anniversary gift.

It didn’t take long for our little ones to learn: Do not touch something so sacred.

And the great irony is this: I wish I had been so careful with my actual marriage these last seven years.

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Date Night, within Reach

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“We’ll go on a date night.”

It’s a lie we tell ourselves over and over and over again. The truth is, when our parents are in town, we get a little selfish. We, too, want attention – to be taken care of.

When you are raising your children several hours from your closest blood relative, it feels like all the hard decisions are yours to make:

Who will care for my child while I work?

Can we really afford what our family needs?

And how will I make it through the day without a backup quarterback?

In my own mothering, I have reached the danger zone: I want to give up.

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The Answer to Marriage Is Soccer

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I wanted to be angry. Truly.

After a Saturday full of child laughter (i.e. parent supervision), the last thing I wanted to do was put both kids to bed by myself. The very act ages me exponentially. But my husband wanted to go to a soccer game, and I knew this “favor” would come in handy at a later time of convenience.

Marriage mistake #1: Keeping score.

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Monsoon Togetherness

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When I was in graduate school, I worked with several Indian students and these relationships were defined by the questions we asked one another. There always seemed to be something to learn. One day I asked a female co-worker, “Do you miss monsoon season?”

Her response was not quite what I expected: “I do. I miss everyone being inside together, even though there were many of us.”

In my mind, I imagined damp clothes, mildew, and body odor. What could ever be redeeming about such an environment? In truth, I had trouble seeing past the external to consider the internal.

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To Love Is to Release

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The idea of a husband and wife finishing graduate school on the same day, walking across the same stage, sounds pretty magical. That is, until you realize that this means two highly ambitious scholars must not only find jobs in the same geographic area but also must agree on wanting to live in that same part of the world.

The year was 2012, and my husband had accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in California following the completion of his PhD. I, on the other hand, had worked incredibly hard for two years to make connections with professionals across the Commonwealth of Virginia and was ready to begin my career as a public health practitioner. [Enter Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both”]

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