Two Years Ago…

Today’s our second wedding anniversary.  Two years ago we joined hands and committed to spending the rest of our lives together in front of our family, friends and community. Today that seems so very far away. I want to be back in that moment. I want to be in love and elated. I want our happiness back. Every day gets a little better. We’re working on it. But good god is it hard.

I’ve been working on our wedding album on Shutterfly.com for the past couple days. It really was the most elegant, beautiful and fun wedding I’ve ever been to. Our guests still tell us that it was the best wedding ever. Since I have never posted wedding photos, and since they are so present in my mind, here are many highlights that many people haven’t seen.

We were married on a brisk yet sunny day at a beautiful reception hall called The Colony Club right in downtown Detroit behind the Fox Theater. In it’s previous incarnations it was a ladies club, a police officer training center and a library. That’s right, the library was housed where the ballroom is now. And about 38 years ago (give or take) a young engineering student set his sights on one of the reference librarians. That student was my father, that librarian, my mother. And so it came to be that we were married in the exact same room where my mother and father met. And to say my dad’s presence was felt that day is an understatement.

So together with 200 of our closest friends and family, and with our dear friend Sterling doing the honor of performing the ceremony, we took our vows and agreed to spend our lives together. We are incredibly blessed by the people in our tribe. They came from Arizona, Florida, D.C., Chicago, Canada, Mississippi, South & North Carolina, New Orleans, Maryland, New Jersey, Cleveland and all over the state of Michigan.

The ceremony was short but sweet, the cocktail hour was swinging (thanks to Gino Fanelli’s Red Hot Sugar Daddies), the dinner was delicious and the reception was full of drinks and dancing. It was an absolutely amazing spectacular wanna-do-it-all-over-again kind of day. One we will forever remember fondly…

 With Mom & Sisters
 With Mom
 A little help from Jef
 The Aisle
 The Tables
 Loved this hair piece from Etsy
 The loveliest bouquet
 Perfect staircase
 My Dad ‘walked’ with me down the aisle
 Perfect place to hide a cocktail
 The synth ties the guys wore
 Centerpiece
 Picture of my Mom & Dad’s wedding 
 Head table all aglow
 Winter tree centerpieces
 Cutting the cake
 And choking
 A kiss
 Michael during his brother’s toast
 Cheers!
 Two of my oldest and dearest Niki & Robyn 
 My sisters Erin, Jilnar and Tracey
 Michael has known these guys since 3rd grade. But Amie & Kate – my girls!
 Pete, Radfan, Nicole, Rajin, Mike & Steve. The Fun Table
 Marta & Iesha. Lovely ladies
 Our first dance 
 Dancing with my brother to ‘Dance with my Father’
 My gorgeous sisters
 Michael’s sister & brother Jilnar and Andre
 Oops! Did I do that?
 Frozen in time
 The Hustle
The Debbke 
 The cutest girl in the room – my cousin Milan
 One of my bestest friends Jen sharing a laugh
 Love me some Natalie
I gave the toast at Kristyn’s wedding and made her cry
so she returned the favor. In a good way. 

The Sky is Falling

To say things in my marriage aren’t perfect right now is a huge understatement. Guess that’s why I haven’t been blogging very often lately. I have attempted to write a post on the subject for over two months, but didn’t know what to say or how to say it. When I finally got up the courage tonight to write about what’s happening I spoke to Michael to make sure it was ok with him. He said he knew I wasn’t going to censor myself on my blog and of course I can write about it.

Marriage is hard, especially the first few years. Everyone warns you of that AFTER your wedding. Having our first child within that first year made an already challenging situation harder more difficult nearly impossible.

When Cedella was born the joy and elation of having this new amazing creature in our lives quickly gave way to the reality of being new parents. Our sex life wasn’t the same, in fact it was almost non-existent. Neither of us were are sleeping, meaning we’re both cranky as hell.  Our roles changed, drastically, from me being the bread-winner to staying at home with Michael becoming the reluctant and resentful bacon-bringer.

But it wasn’t just our roles that changed. It was like the scale had been tipped, with a majority of the household responsibilities landing squarely on my shoulders. Picture Atlas balancing the world on his shoulders. That’s how I’ve felt for a year now.

The thing is I would never in a million years have made any other choice than to stay home and be a full time Mama. Though there was several months of steep learning curves and loneliness to conquer, for the most part I fell right into the change in lifestyle. Guess the 9 month gestation process gets a Mama ready for those changes.

In fairness, pre-Critter (Cedella’s name when she was just a little bean), we were a very social couple. We went out (usually to our fav watering hole) three to four times a week. If we stayed home we often had people over, or crazy kids that we were, ‘practiced’ making little Critters.

We spent money like water, always knowing we could make more. We drank too much, smoked too much and ate too much fast food. We stayed up late and got up late and went to work late. We did what we wanted when we wanted to, as spontaneous and free as the wind.

So when we moved here, 80 miles from my home, and five months pregnant, my lifestyle had already shifted. I stopped smoking & drinking immediately, got on prenatals and started eating healthy and exercised on a regular basis. No more late nights partying. Only quiet and solitude and staying in and taking care of my Critter.

Michael though, back in his hometown, surrounded by old friends and habits, seems to still be holding on tightly to our pre-parent ways. He didn’t stop smoking (right away) or cut back on drinking. His eating habits remain questionable when he doesn’t eat at home. He stays up late, goes where he wants whenever he wants and does as he pleases the majority of the time. And for the most part I have not had any reservations about it. Until now.

The stress of his job, mixed with his propensity to go off his medication any given week, makes Michael extremely volatile when he gets home. All the problems he faces during the day get taken out on me each night. When added to the stress I’m under to take care of everything else (including child, home, laundry, dog, bills, budgeting, shopping etc.) it has all chipped away at what was once a true partnership and respectful love. For so much of the past year it feels like we’re playing the part of the happy married couple in public while in reality it feels like we’re nothing more than battling housemates.

During the weekend of Cedella’s first birthday, the anniversary of one of the happiest day of our lives, we were so upset with one another that Michael barely made it to the party.

Then two weeks ago, while our family was dealing with the death of my MIL’s mother, several of Michael’s indiscretions came to light. For Michael’s protection I will not go into details other than to say that nothing physical occurred. He broke my trust and broke my heart, but it could have been much worse.

Suddenly it was as if the dam broke and all the issues and problems of the last two years have come gushing back to us. The pressure stress hurt unsaid frustrations, they all came out in one night. I cried screamed cussed and blamed. He defended made excuses cried and blamed himself. He begged for me to stay and not to leave him, despite my threats that I couldn’t take any more.

At the end of the talk we agreed to do everything in our power to make our marriage work. We’ve started counseling and we’re trying to make more time to be together. And I’m trying to forgive. But it’s really really hard. I honestly don’t know what or how long it will take for me to trust him again.

The saddest thing is that I miss my best friend. I miss being silly and laughing and not waiting for the other shoe to drop. It feels like there’s a constant dark cloud hanging right over our house. I’m so sick of being hurt and disappointed and disrespected. I want to be in love with my husband again, to be romantic and affectionate. I want to plan for the future and start thinking of more children, but everything is just so uncertain.

And certainly above all else Cedella deserves to have a loving family, a mother and a father in love, who teach her love peace and respect through the example of their love.

All this and our second anniversary is one week from today. Thankfully (?) we have a family vacation (our first since Cedella’s birth) planned for the first week of April. I pray to the universe that it will bring us closer.

Not sure what else to say at this point. We’re trying, and will continue to try. I’m certainly not ready to be without Michael, I know that in my heart and soul. I love my husband, I really do. I just never dreamed that it would be this hard. That two years in it would feel like the sky was falling in on us. And yet, here we are…

P.S. So I’ve been listening to Tori Amos’ ‘Little Earthquakes’ like it was written just for me. Over and over and over again. And you know what? Cedella is starting to hum along. Should I be worried?

Why We Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day

And why I’m pretty irritated about it.

It’s quite simple really. Michael and I decided early in our relationship that we would celebrate our love for one another every single day, and refused to participate in a marketing-driven Hallmark-inspired faux-holiday.

You know those early days of a love affair when you think that the feeling your in the midst of could never possibly fade, but only grow brighter? Those days when you want to spend Every. Single. Waking. Moment. Together? To the point where you’re playing hooky at work just to stay in bed with each other a little bit longer. Yea, those days were so sweet and silly and romantic…

And LONG gone, and yet our deal about Valentine’s is still on.

I knew there was some underlying tension between us on Sunday night as Michael grumbled about having to get flowers for his step-mom because his dad is out of town. I mentioned how nice it was going to be for her to get flowers, and that it would be even better if he brought them to her at work. Cause what woman doesn’t like to get flowers at work for all her co-workers to drool over? Immediately after this seemingly harmless exchange the tension was palpable.

Though we made the decision for the two of us not to celebrate it obviously didn’t carry over to Cedella, right? So Leslie (aka New Friend) and I took our girls to this awesome little pie bakery called Sweetie-Licious. It was a Mama/Daughter Pie Date!! We had such a great time, and so much great pie, that it actually felt a bit celebratory.

 Playing in the Sweetie-Licious Kitchen
 Sharing food with Anna
 Mmmmmm…pretzels!
Mmmmmm…pie!
Mmmmmm…table?
 Having a tea party
Sharing a tea cup

But I have to admit a bit of jealousy when we stopped by the flower shop and I knew that I wouldn’t be on the receiving end of any blooms. Or that I wouldn’t be taken on a special fancy date. Or that I had absolutely no reason to shave my legs or wear heels (really I love to dress up and having no reason bums me out).

When we got home I got out the paint so that Monk could make some Valentine’s Day paintings. Maybe I should have confirmed this parenting choice with Michael, but I decided that at the very least we would make a tradition out of making something for one another to celebrate our love, at least on this day, if not as often as we can. So we painted cards for Daddy.

When Michael got home from work, after having delivered the flowers, he was much later and grumpier than usual. We gave him his paintings, which he was not as impressed by as I had hoped. And again I mentioned how nice it was for him to have taken the flowers to my MIL. At this point my second mention became a ‘thing’.

He was immediately defensive and angry. “We decided not to celebrate Valentine’s Day together and now you want to celebrate? WTF?” (Totally paraphrased BTW). He said he would love to buy me flowers and take me out, on any other day than Valentine’s. That’s the problem though. I don’t get flowers or a card any other day, let alone on Valentine’s. The last time he gave me flowers was during our honeymoon. I can count the times we’ve been out just the two of us since Cedella has been born on one hand (that’s less than 5 times in a year folks!).

Now I’m beginning to understand the whole V Day deal. It’s not just about forcing one to buy overpriced boxes of heart shaped candies and red long stem roses. It’s like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Fourth of July. It’s a reason to collectively celebrate, only instead of being thankful or saying Happy Birthday to Jesus or America, we celebrate Love.

For a lot of us married folks, saying we love one another can become so banal. It’s like brushing your teeth or making coffee. You just do it as part of your day. How often do I take the time to tell Michael I love him because he is the Clyde to my Bonnie. How often do I express how much I love the way he makes me laugh. How often does he understand that when I tell him I love him before he leaves to go to work, that I really LOVE him. That I can’t live without him. That he is my other half.

Even if, as a couple, we decide to continue this tradition of not celebrating Valentine’s, I feel the need to insist we celebrate our love, that we talk about our love, that we make our love a priority. That we give cards, flowers and handmade mementos just because. That we take time once a week (or so) to reconnect and spend some quality adult time together. I don’t see how we can maintain our passion for one another without celebrating it.

What do you do to keep the love alive and celebrate one another?

My little Valentine