Monday, February 27, 2006

In Commemoration of Our Long Marriage

Utterly ridiculous, that's what this is. It's 11:22 p.m. and I'm wrapped in a somewhat hideous purple bathrobe that my in-laws sent one Christmas (what? now we send sleepwear to people we never even visit?) and the old navy blue velour Lands End pajamas I bought the year my son was born (1998) and I have work to do, actual important work with deadlines and everything and what am I doing? What? I'll tell you!

I'm procrastinating and reading your blogs and listening to the local late-night news and occasionally hollering to my almost-teen boys, "BE QUIET! GO TO SLEEP!" My husband woke up early with the stomach virus I suffered through on Friday and now he's exhausted from the rigors of trudging to the bathroom ten thousand times today. I said with barely restrained glee, "And now, do you feel sorry for me?!" because last Friday when I had the same virus, my daughter never left my side and for half the day, I was babysitting the 15-month old. Never mind the fact that my boys were entirely on their own and that my now-8-year old invited two friends over to play in the backyard without even telling me or the fact that I was up and at a birthday party the next morning by 10 a.m. Never mind that because having the stomach virus is not a time for healthy competition. Sick competition, perhaps.

For the record, he does feel sorry for me. And then he said, "Yes, I was neglecting you while visiting the dying in the hospital." Which is entirely true and spotlights the life we lead. The dying in the hospital trump a stomach virus at home, unless of course, the roiling stomach belongs to the pastor, in which case, the youth pastor will have to do (as he did today when a church woman called for a pastor today--she was having an MRI on her head to see if she had a stroke). (And, wouldn't you know it, a different woman, the one my husband has been visiting frequently the past weeks--she died last night at 1 a.m. And he couldn't go and do his pastor-thing and sit with the family today. It's such a tough time and he normally makes a point of being with the grieving family.)

Before my 8-year old left for school, I looked into his green-gray eyes and said, "Now, listen. If you get a stomach ache and if you have diarrhea, tell your teacher and I'll come get you." I wrote his teacher a note to inform her that we have a stomach virus here which is highly contagious and that if he showed signs, I'd come pick him up.

At 9:30 a.m., the call from his teacher came. My husband threw off the covers of his sick bed and came downstairs to sit with my daughter and the toddler while I drove three minutes away to the school. My son looked fine and I confess I didn't believe he was sick. I confined him to his room, relegated him to playing the old Nintendo 64 system and for a long time, every time I checked, he seemed bored, but healthy. He insisted he'd had diarrhea and I gave him a little speech about being truthful, yada, yada, yada.

At 3:00 p.m., he threw up all over his bedroom carpet.
At 3:01 p.m., the doorbell rang.
At 3:02 p.m., the telephone rang.
At 3:03 p.m., the nice church couple who rang the doorbell sat at my kitchen table while I pretended not to be mortified by 1) my messy kitchen counter; 2) the toys scattered all over the family room; 3) the stacks of laundry, folded, but still; 4) my unmade-up face and humidity-induced crazy hair; and 5) my daughter's nutty outfit (sundress and too-short wildly unmatched purple stretch pants).

And with great hilarity, I must tell you that we are replacing our van (aka, "The Deathtrap," the 1991 Chevy Astro van which was given to us a couple of years back) with another van, a pretty, powder-blue Chevy Astro van which was manufactured the very same year we were married. That's right! Bonus points for those of you who shouted out the correct answer. Nineteen eighty-seven!! Yes, people, that means our "new" van is four years older than our "old" van and; not only that, but it's guaranteed not to break down within a twenty-mile radius.

No, really. We are so grateful for this donation to our sad, pitiful cause. Our old van quit running and the brakes were deemed unsafe by our mechanic friend. Our regular car, the 1993 Mercury Sable randomly stops running, despite the assurances by the mechanic (twice, now) that they've fixed it. (The last time, it cost $300.) So, driving that car very far feels unsafe.

Hopefully, next year, we'll buy an actual vehicle manufactured in this century. Or decade, even.

So, they signed over the van. I cleaned up the vomit as best as I could. The telephone call was for my husband--his aunt died. As I knelt over the vomitous carpet, the toddler woke from his nap, screaming his little blond head off.

I did scurry around this afternoon, then, fueled by my mortification. Of course, now that it's tidy, no one will stop by. That's always how it works around here.

I expect my twins to be clutching their bellies and pushing their way to the toilet tomorrow. In a way, that would be great because then I could work on my work, the work with deadlines. Because, otherwise, it will interfere with "American Idol" and honestly, a girl has to have her priorities.

I said to my husband tonight, "Don't you just love our life?" as I thought about the vomit and the old vans and the singing preschooler in the tub who wouldn't stop calling out, "MOMMY! MOMMY!"

He said in a very serious voice, "Yes. I do, actually."

The next time I came into the room (putting away laundry), he said, "Seriously, think of all the things we've been through. We've been poor. We were infertile. The unemployment. Your dad's death. Our families' divorces."

Getting into the spirit of things, I said, "Don't forget your cancer!"

His point, though, was not to dwell on the difficult stretches of our life together, but to remember that our pain helps us help others. Our pain has made us stronger. Our marriage has endured--and now we have a concrete reminder of just how long we've been together. What cracks me up is that the reminder isn't a giant sparkly anniversary diamond ring, but has flaky powder-blue paint and is parked in the driveway.


Blogger The Daring One said...

You are so great Mel. I love this post. But I AM marking you down a preacher's wife. Don't think I'm not. There. I just did it. You're on the list.

You rock.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Beckie said...

What a day! You always give me a good chuckle and I enjoy reading your posts. I've had days like that too and they're always good for a laugh later, although when they're happening I feel like crying (and sometimes I do cry!!). Thanks for the glimpse of your life.

4:58 AM  
Blogger jennifer starfall said...

i love your life, too. it's obvious, from out here, that it's wonderful.

6:16 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

You are a fortunate woman indeed, Mrs. Mel. As is your family.

Since you've told us your twins don't usually bother flushing the toilet after use, I have to ask. Do they flush after flu-induced vomiting? Forgive me if I am examining the details of this unretouched photo too closely. I just can't help myself.


6:21 AM  
Blogger judy said...

Oh, Mel.

Really. Write a book. This is the part of 'real life' that isn't being heard.

You say it so beautifully.

I bestow upon you the highest honor of the 5 wows.


Not only is the writing great. So is your life.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous mopsy said...

A sparkly anniversary ring isn't going to get you to the store to buy Saltines and ginger ale for sick kids.

You admire what is truly valuable.

Great post, great thoughts.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jack-on-the-Lake said...

Great post! Hopefully the family is starting to mend. Maybe one day you can trade in your "new" van for an "old" ring :)

8:32 AM  
Blogger yorkist rose said...

What a blessing to have a guy who can look you in the unmade face and say "yes I do". That's love.

Awesome post Me, as always.

8:39 AM  
Blogger meredith said...

I really enjoy your writing. Life is great, thanks for reminding us.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

I would give a toast in celebration, but I think my Honda Accord is just a bit too heavy to hoist.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Your husband is a schmoopy. Tell him I said so.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Julana said...

If I win the lottery, I will buy you a 2007 Toyota Sienna.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Yours' is the blog I look forward to the most - and you never disappoint me.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

oh my goodness - we're just assistant pastors, but you have described it so accurately. I love my life, and all its quirks. I would not trade it for all the big beautiful houses with perfect little children and a husband with a 9-5 job.

4:02 PM  
Blogger oshee said...

Thank you! You just made my week with my five healthy children seem like a pleasant day dream! Perspective is a wonderful thing to give another. And through it all I am glad to see you love your life. I love mine too.

12:26 PM  
Blogger jackabug said...

I just bought this cute little sign. it says
MY house was clean last week, sorry you missed it.
So now I feel better when people drop in!

7:06 PM  
Blogger Praying for your Prodigal said...

I'm hooked! I just keep coming back! You are the best. Yes, I completely agree with the other bring absolute joy into the reality of most of our lives. Who needs reality shows (although--I, too, won't miss American Idol), as old married folks---we have a healthy dose of reality!

And I couldn't agree more with your statement, "pain helps us help others." This very philosophy is in the mission statement for Praying for A Prodigal--(II Corinthians 1: 3-4)

Thanks for writing! Thanks for sharing what is truly important at the end of each day!


7:25 AM  

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