Love (notes) and marriage.

This evening, as my husband was putting the baby to bed, I went down to the basement to go through our belongings.
I am cleaning things out because (gasp!) we are planning to move. But that’s another story for another day.
So in an effort to purge all things (I) deemed unnecessary, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts. And my belongings.
And in looking for junk to dump, I struck gold.
I came across a photo album, each flimsy plastic slot filled with a neatly folded love note.
A note from my guy,
to his girl. To the me I used to be.

Here’s the thing. Partnership is an amazing thing; a gift, a joy, a treasure. It feels good to have someone’s back, and to feel your own weight supported by another. Marriage is beautiful. But, like any other great thing (an exciting job, a child, a new home) it comes with it’s challenges.
Being the parents of a toddler is it’s own unique flavor of hard. It’s hard to talk over a temper tantrum. It’s hard to juggle the demands of the day. It’s hard to make time.
Lately, I have found myself getting sentimental about my relationship. Starting many sentences with “remember when”s and reminiscing about our days of old. Because truly, we’ve grown up together. Not just in the literal sense (as neighbors all our lives) but because we met as young people, and have faced some unimaginably hard things together. We’ve lost opportunities, lost jobs, lost loved ones. He cheered for me when I graduated from college. I’ve held him as he’s cried.
That’s what happens when you have history with someone. For someone.
And maybe it’s because we’re making a big life change,
or because our little girl is growing before our eyes, or because we are about to travel back to our special place,
or simply because quality time for us right now often consists of 15 minutes alone together at the end of the day,
with me pointing out a couch I like on Houzz
and with him giving me a kiss goodnight as I doze off during Homeland;
it’s easy to sleep next to the same person
year after year
but it’s hard to always remember how you’ve gotten there.
Tonight, as I cleaned out my basement, I unearthed my memories. I read note after note, lingering over each word. Words of love, of hope, words of a future still unknown. Declarations. Promises.
And in reading, it did not feel as though I was seeing these words for the first time, but it felt as though I was understanding their sentiments in an entirely new way.

I picked up a note from this date six years ago. In it he drew a cartoon, and wrote “…You are the greatest caretaker and friend anyone could ever ask for! You are always there for me to help me when I am sick, to make me smile when I am sad, and to do something silly for a laugh. It is just one of the many reasons that I love you so very much…”
My husband tells me he loves me every day. In the morning. From work. On his way home. Before bed. I am no stranger to those words. But these notes told me why.
Because, when it comes down to it, when he gets home from work and I’m in my velour sweatpants, hair up in a ponytail, stirring a pot of soup as I chase after our daughter and dog,
it’s hard for me to always believe that he loves that me. That me that I now see.
Even though he tells me. And shows me. And looks me in the eyes and promises me how lucky he feels that I’m his.
Reading these notes helped me. They reminded me. They did exactly what he promised to do, as he scrawled in permanent marker on the inside jacket to the photo album. He wrote, “The pages of this book hold letters that are the hard copy proof of my love for you. They will always be here for you as a reminder, or when you just need a smile. I am yours, now and forever. I love you.”
Marriage is hard. Being a parent is hard. Moving is really freakin’ hard.
And sometimes, you need years and years of memories to envelop you, to make you feel safe, and to make you feel loved.
And sometimes, you just need a little album.

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