It's Saturday morning. My bed head is beach hair, but not the coveted kind; it looks salty and wind-blown. I'm pumping breast milk at the kitchen counter. It's our first meeting of the day. There were no Hallmark-movie-moment wakings. He fell asleep calming our 3-year-old and woke in her bed to elbows in his rib cage and heels in his eye sockets. The baby was my nighttime companion. We play musical beds and land where we can catch the longest nap. The days of laying heavy in a heap with one another are gone . . . for now. I look at him with blackened eyes, the remains of winged eyeliner I practiced from YouTube tutorials. I'm a sloppy morning-after without any of the "before" fun. We're tired and have been for eight years. We will be indefinitely.
The baby is perched on his knee. And we're planning the next week to the suck and sigh of a breast pump: inventor's camp, soccer camp, dry land training, work travel. Trash talk climbs the basement stairs. The little over-the-door hoop rattles. Score! The pump hums.
This is who we are now. My legs are a little prickly. So are his cheeks. Josie coos. We make plans. Suck. Sigh. Suck. Sigh.
Our coffee is lukewarm always and this morning is no exception. We sip.
We're worn having just navigated our hardest year to date: job changes, an unexpected pregnancy, the very real possibility of a severely special needs child, four children, my father's erratic heart, my sometimes broken one.
But here we are.
Twelve years ago, we stood in front of our favorite people and promised to love one another. We said in sickness and in health. We said in good times and bad. But we were children then. Babies, it seems.
The gravity of sickness, the weight of bad is abstract to two kids who fell in love in high school stat class (we obviously weren't listening because what are the chances this could work? What are the chances?) We played house on the weekends in college.
I meant every word behind "I do," but I couldn't possibly know sickness. I had the flu a few times, a wicked stomach bug once or twice. He broke his foot and had allergies. I didn't know bad. He didn't either.
And then we grew up.
I don't know how people can write "10 steps to a healthy marriage" or dish out marital advice like prepackaged snacks. I can't imagine being so sure of a recipe. I'm not even sure how we got here.
I don't know how love persists in good times and bad, in sickness and health, in spite of it all: the mess and worry, the shape-shifting bodies and minds and hearts.
My kids are anti-marriage, swearing they'll never like anyone like that, sure they'll never kiss. If they change their minds, and I hope they do, I won't be able to tell them how to make it work, how to be sure you'll be committed to each other's weirdness or come out on the other side of Hell holding hands instead of making fists.
I unhook and add the milk to Josie's cereal. I spoon it carefully into her open mouth while he holds her wobbling body in place. He's good at that.
We're no Lifetime movie; he didn't lean into me while I looked like road kill and tell me I've never looked more beautiful. He didn't profess his love above a bowl of my still-warm breast milk.
But he stayed. And so did I. And we will.
What are the chances?