Tomorrow is my parents' 44th wedding anniversary. Forty-four years is a long time to put up with another human. In a world where temporary is the new permanent, it's amazing to think they've stuck it out all of these years.
No relationship is perfect. Whether it's your spouse, your family, your friends or your co-workers...every relationship is complex. Even the people you love the most can drive you the craziest. When I was a kid I had no idea my parents' marriage wasn't perfect. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw my parents fight. I know they did, but they didn't do it in front of us.
When I think about the commitment of a relationship for more than four decades, it's mind-blowing. Even with all of the imperfections of every relationship, my parents have endured through four children, illnesses, annoyances, moves, and all of the other drama life throws at you. I'm sure they didn't always like each other (and I'm sure still don't always), but something always made it worth it. Now that I'm an adult I know my parents fought then and fight now. I know their marriage is far from perfect. I'm also realistic enough to know that every single relationship is fraught with imperfections. It's how we triage the imperfect to get to the good stuff - what makes it worth it - that matters.
My husband and I have been through a lot in the nine years we've been together. It's not easy to put up with a Type A woman filled with boundless energy, high expectations and also just happens to have a chronic illness to make it interesting. The last few years of waiting for a baby and dealing with my health challenges have been exhausting. The last few months of having a baby and dealing with my health challenges have been equally challenging. In the last year we bought a new house, I spent a month in the hospital, our son was born and we both changed jobs. It's an amount of change in a very short time that is staggering. Our tempers can be short. We're both groggy with exhaustion. We crawl into bed at the (what feels very) late hour of 9 pm, hold hands, and I think "we did it". Another day on the books. Tomorrow I'll be less tired, more patient, a better mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend/employee. Tomorrow will be a less exhausting day. I'll feel more like myself tomorrow.
My parents did that with four children. My dad had a job that required him to work very long hours and most weekends. There wasn't always a ton of extra money, but we never wanted for anything. Ever. Through all of the trials of life they've hung in there together. Even during those times they may not have liked each other and patience was wearing thin they stuck together. After 44 years of imperfection, my parents are still together. Nobody makes my mom laugh like my dad (even when his kids are rolling their eyes at some cheesy joke). In their retirement I've discovered my parents really like each other even after all this time.
Forty-four years of marriage is extraordinary. These long exhausting days won't last forever. If you're lucky and work at it, the person who makes you laugh and loves you unconditionally will still be there when the hard times take a hiatus. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thanks for being imperfect. You've taught me more than you know!