Thursday, 25 June 2015

Ten years ago today I made a choice.

Ten years ago today I made a choice. 

No big deal, right? Everyone makes hundreds of decisions every day. And what makes one choice more important, or more memorable than another, anyway? Are they the choices that give you butterflies? The ones that everyone talks about? The ones that mean forever?

Ten years ago I said forever to a man I'd known for just a few years. People told me how love was supposed to be, with all it's glittery promises and somersaults. I walked down the isle, in a white dress, and I didn't feel any butterflies or giddiness, I simply saw the man in front of me that I had decided I would journey with forever. People told me how my wedding day was important, with all it's confetti and love hearts and cake. But they never said a word about forever.

People were late and saw my dress before I'd even walked into the church. They weren't supposed to see it then. A slight timing mishap meant that I didn't walk down the isle at the correct line in the song I had chosen, as though I was performing some sort of west-end musical dance routine. I walked down the isle too fast, I was nervous. I saw that my husband-to-be hadn't done his hair quite right. This was not how it was supposed to be...

In the weeks before our big day we had two houses fall through; one of which happened the very day before we got married. My father-in-law had to sign us up to any flat he could find and so we had no idea where we would be living when we returned from our honeymoon. This was not how it was supposed to be...

As the years went by we had our ups and downs, the incredible highs and the dark silent lows. There were still the times when I noticed that we hadn't timed life just so, or that he hadn't done his hair quite right. There were times when I wondered why he didn't do things the way I did, why he was so incredibly different. We hardly had anything in common. This was not how it was supposed to be...

They told me that you will know when you meet the one, that you will get those butterflies in your stomach. People queried our decision not to move in together first - how will you know if you're compatible, they would say. And I can tell you with hindsight, that we are not and never wereNot in the way that we were supposed to be.

We struggled with our differences, but we laughed, a lot; Laughter like medicine that washed away any care of false expectations or ideals. He was not my prince charming; my perfect man, nor was I his leading lady; more of a neurotic side-kick. We were not what the world told us to choose; our marriage was not what the world said it should be. But whose really is?

You see, the thing with choices is that the important ones do not simply exist for just one hour or one day. They do not end with "I do". When I walked down the isle, along with all the excitement and happiness, was the sobering knowledge that forever is sometimes difficult. I knew that his skin would wrinkle and his stomach likely enlarge. I knew that as the years went by, his conversation would no longer hold my gaze for hours on end, or that the feel of his arms around me would lose their novelty. But with that comes the feeling that there is a me-shaped space that is carved out for me there, like time has made us fit better than we ever have. Being different means that we have a different voice to speak into each others confusion. Being not as we are supposed to be means that we can find our own path where others would tell us there is a dead end.

Choices, like marriage, or having children, or choosing a job, are not always the fireworks we expect. When I had my firstborn I wondered why I found it so hard – why, when the world told me it should be wonderful, did I cry more than I laughed? Was it a bad choice? When I married my husband I wondered why I didn't feel the somersaults as I walked up the isle. Was it a bad choice? When I dread getting up in the night to feed my second born, do I conclude that I should have stuck at one?

Just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't totally and utterly worthwhile. Just because something is very normal does not mean it doesn't have uniqueness. Just because something is different, different to what you thought it should be, whether better or worse, doesn't meant it's not just as it was supposed to be.

Thank you Neil, for being my supporter, my encourager, my help, my laughter. Thank you for being you.*

*But could you please learn to change the toilet roll correctly. Love you.