This past weekend, I turned thirty-two while doubled-over laughing in a hotel room with a charcoal mask on my face and four sisters by my side.
O gathered the girls- three of my blood sisters and our angel sister-in-law- and booked a table at my favorite fancy restaurant and a suite at my favorite local hotel. We crammed in a too-small-for-five-grown-women car and blasted ‘There She Goes,’ Tupac and, of course, the Encanto soundtrack. We talked about memories and marriage and womanhood and what it’s like for each of us to be kissing that thirtieth year on one side or the other. We laughed. We laughed that laugh that sticks with you in a chuckle that keeps spilling out long after the conversation ended. When we finally slept, we s l e p t and were so thankful to not have to wake up and feed breakfast to tiny mouths the next morning.
When the girls left, O swapped places with one of my sisters who took over watching our three babies so he could come join me downtown. He showed up with an entire bag of my favorite snacks and an enormous slice of the paleo cake I had made the day before and when I tell you we did nothing all evening but eat snacks, watch ‘Young Rock’ and giggle like we were dating-I mean it.
The day O told me he had planned this weekend for me (not in enough time for me to cancel Monday pediatrician appointments,) he asked very seriously, “would you rather have gone alone?”
He asked because there was a time in our marriage where the answer would have been, “yes.” As sad as it feels to type out, I didn’t feel recharged or relaxed with him by my side. Overwhelm certainly played a role in that, of course; I had zero time to myself with two kids twenty months apart and craved that so desperately. But the heart of the matter was that I’d rather be alone than risk stepping on a camouflaged landmine that would expose damage we couldn’t afford.
As much as I still love being alone, I stood in the mirror that night and shifted my toothbrush over to say, “absolutely not.” A bold response that was truer than true. Though we still have skills to work on-conversation topping the list-I’m so grateful for the kindness of the Lord gently guiding us in our marriage. Here, at ten-and-a-half years in, there is a foundation of hope that replaced the eggshells underfoot. In one hundred different versions of one hundred different worlds, I want that man by my side. Because that phrase wasn’t always true in the past and because it might be untrue a few more times in the future, I just have to say- Praise God.
This is the weekend I was healthy and felt supported and loved and wore my highest heels and clocked a solid thirty hours in bed and ate my favorite chocolate cake and realized how much I’ve learned in the past year and how happy I am for the gift of another one. This is the weekend I’ll remember for the rest of my days. Cheers to thirty-two.