Marriage: Year Six

Brandon, Sarah, Lydia, and Elvis

This is entry #6 leading up to celebrating 15 years of marriage.

2008-2009: Learning the Value of Tradition (and Repetition)

What do you do when your kids are one and two? You walk to the park every sunny day. You eat breakfast and snack and lunch and nap and snack and dinner and bathe and read and sleep. We develop the names we’ll call our grandparents and practice giving words and phrases meaning, inventing “Pop-Pop” and “Great Mom-O” and “chidewalk.” With some of the darkness behind us, there’s delight in the monotony, awareness of moments paused with child tucked into the crook of your arm, child standing on a stump, child sitting on a Dora couch, child licking brownie batter off a spoon.

Weekends are marked by memory making. For two people who do not possess the cognitive development to have memories of this season, we pick out pumpkins. We wrap presents that will launch our family’s Christmas traditions. We visit the zoo and winter festivals. We sled. We make snowmen.

No one suspects that when you go to the county fair with your kids once, it will become one of the many things you always do: we always go to the fair; we always eat pizza on Fridays; we always go to Topsail beach; we always get pajamas at Christmas.

It takes all of our time and energy, this thing called parenting. We accidentally get pregnant on the pill and miscarry, again, this time a little relieved, a little guilty to be relieved. When the children are asleep, we play an occasional game of Scrabble. We watch a lot of shows, zombified and shell-shocked by the sheer constant noise and busyness of toddlers. We sometimes sit together on the couch and sometimes sit in separate spots. We sometimes rub the other’s foot with ours and ask, “Are you ready for bed?” We sometimes see friends who don’t have kids or whose children are past this age – we sneak them in our house after the kids are asleep or meet them out at bars for karaoke.

Some of them never see us with our children at all. They are surprised to meet Parent Sarah and Parent Brandon. Friend Sarah and Friend Brandon are our fly-by-night secret identities, the people we really are when we aren’t trying to keep our children from killing themselves.

We do not possess the cognitive ability to know the work that’s being done when our kids are two and one, but in these early, routine days, we are creating the culture of our family. We are binding them in security. We are giving them predictability. We are weaving together a safety net they can trust will be there. And we’re pretty sure, these days, that it will.

Topsail Beach Vacation with Family

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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