It was my parents’ 39th wedding anniversary last Saturday.
This is no small achievement in this day of 11 month-old marriages. Having experienced my own relationships, I understand that this is no mean feat. And I consider myself extremely lucky to have lived into my 30s with both of my parents still alive and still married to each other.
I never really thought about it as a child. Of course Mummy and Daddy were married. I had seen the pictures, and it didn’t seem odd that neither I nor my siblings featured in those pictures. Not something most kids today can say.
I look at my parents today and can’t help but admire them for achieving something which, despite seeming very easy at the euphoric time of breathlessly-uttered ‘I do’s’, has eluded many people. In fact, I think that my parents’ marriage is partly to blame for my skepticism when it comes to relationships. Apart from the fact that out of at least 8 weddings I have attended over the last 8 years, only 2 of the couples are still together, there are certain things that make me a bit scared of that commitment. Let me explain myself.
First, a disclaimer. Yes, I believe in love everlasting. I have been deeply enamoured of chocolate and don’t see that love affair ending any time soon. Yes, it would be nice to get married. Some day.
So, the scary bits.
You know when you’re in love, and everything the object of your affections does is adorable? The way they say your name? The way they fart in their sleep? The way they turn over in bed and wrap themselves in the covers, leaving you a shivering, mosquito-bitten, lovelorn wreck on the other side of the bed?
That’s all well and good over the first couple of years. But 10 years later? 20? THIRTY-NINE?! Not so much a lovelorn wreck as a psychotic one. (By the way, this is not to say that my parents are guilty of any of the misdemeanors mentioned above. I wouldn’t know, nor would I want to know. As far as I am concerned, my siblings and I were all immaculate conceptions.)
Then children. How do you make it through? Leave alone the years when that cute baby you spent 16 hours bringing into the world turns into the teenager from hell (I’m sorry Mummy), but what about those early days when baby is fresh from hospital? When that gorgeous bundle only seems to cry, suck your nipples to shreds and unleash its body weight in poop every four hours? How do you keep the love going? Looking at that child and thinking- THIS is what our love made?!
That said, I’m grateful that my siblings and I have grown up shrouded by the security of our parents being together. Please don’t get me wrong- I know plenty of people who have not been as fortunate but have grown up perfectly normal and happy. I am simply saying I’m grateful I have two best friends always ready to give advice, to laugh with, to hold me close when I cry, and love me unconditionally. I can look back at my childhood and say I want THAT for MY children, whenever they come along. And I can silence the cynic in me and say, look at them. It IS possible.
Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad. May I also learn to love, laugh, and grow old gracefully, as you have.