My parents celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary this Sunday.
Both of my parents are my best friends, without question. The summer between my sophomore and junior years of college I worked in my first museum job/internship for virtually no money. As a result, I hung out with my parents a lot since I was broke. That summer is really when I got to know them as Dave & Pat, and less as Mom & Dad.
After college I went right to grad school, and once again because I had few funds, I moved in with them and commuted the half hour distance to school. I was worried at first that it would be difficult to be at home again after years away at college, but the three of us had a great roommate setup- each of us cooked twice a week, shared household cleaning, etc. I had only planned to stay six months, but it seemed silly to move in the middle of the school year. I had hoped to move out for my second year of grad school, but it seemed silly then too because I hoped that when I graduated I was going to go out into the world to some grand place and museum job, so I should save up. Before I knew it, I had a job fifteen minutes away at a local historical society and I was still living at home. My father used to joke about not teasing him with moving out every few months because it never happened. I knew he was only joking- they both loved having me around.I came back in 2005 only intending to stay a year, and I didn’t leave their house until May 2010 when I was married.
34 years is a long time for marriage- I remember an anniversary of theirs when they both commented that they had reached the point when they had now spent more of their life married than they had single. They were married young, they both admit, but it was a different time and that’s what you did when you were done with college. Despite this, they worked hard and raised two children amazingly and provided for us. My brother and I were never spoiled; we never lacked for love, affection, and the occasional treat from the toy store. Both my parents never missed a concert or softball practice; they were frequent chaperones for field trips and drivers of the minivan full of tween girls going to the mall. They never complained or said they didn’t want to do it. In fact, because their anniversary frequently fell on the last week or so of school, they spent many an anniversary at a school play or concert- even the circus one year! I consider it a very special gift that they both were so involved in both me and my brother’s lives, educations, and social activities. Our family bond is tight because of their dedication to us and our family- we had dinner together at the kitchen table every single night, even if it meant a quick meal of hot dogs or pizza before basketball practice.
As I struggled with my marriage and how unhappy I was, my parents were often my sounding board not only because we are so close, but because they had always been realistic about the everyday issues that happen in a marriage. My mother often jokes that pump toothpaste and boneless skinless chicken saved her marriage because they would argue about messy toothpaste tubes and skin/bones on chicken frequently. All jokes aside, they showed me what love and friendship is in a marriage. My mother told me my father is still her best friend, even all these years later. And even after thirty four years, they are still adapting and working on things together as their lives change and get older.
This past year has been an emotional mindfield for me- just this past Saturday I found myself crying over something as trivial as a drip in the bathroom faucet ( I was overwhelmed by house things and over tired). Without my parents, really my entire family and support network, I would be a mess on the floor. Pat & Dave have both been a grounding force in so many aspects of the process of ending a marriage and starting a new life- providing endless hours of distractions, help around the house, and most importantly, a listening ear. They have been truly remarkable. I can only hope that if one day I am blessed enough with a family of my own, that I am half the parents that they have been to me and my brother.
Love you so much Mom & Dad- Happy Anniversary