Give up a little.

I’m going to talk a bit about marriage. If you haven’t started rolling your eyes yet, just give me 2 minutes. Hang in there.

My husband and I are entering our 10th year of marriage. It does not get easier. It’s a little like the sand in the bottom of your shoes at the end of a beach day. Persistent and sometimes annoying and mostly, a lovely reminder of that great day at the beach.

And then there’s the changing. No one is ever done changing. As Michelangelo said at age 87, “Ancora imparo. [I am still learning.]”

We were 25 and 32.

We are now 35 and almost 42.

A lot of learning happens. A lot of changing happens. And yet, we’re still here.

The thing about binding yourself in perpetuity to another is really the whole permanence of it. Our generation is not one of sticking. We are into growing and changing. We are into development. We are into our kids; epically into our kids. We are not so much into ourselves. We are not so much into each other. Therefore, we stick like those craft googly eyes to yarn – not very well.

Many of our parents divorced. Hey, we all turned out alright. And, we did. It’s true. We turned to Annie and The Neverending Story and E.T. – the real-life stories of broken homes healed us. We found a way to be resilient. And it worked because our parents were happier apart than they were together. We learned that if you cannot be happy in your own skin, you should never inhabit the skin of another.

And like elephants, we remember.

Marriage is hard. It’s give and take and mostly, it feels like you’re the one doing all the giving. Of course, both parties feel this way. It’s love and unrequited love and both parties take turns feeling the pangs of rejection. It’s the day-to-day with small children and nights when you want to talk, but, then sleep wins. Because sleep always wins.

It’s sex and no sex and not enough sex. The sex, it matters.

And it’s hard. And, it’s wonderful. And, it’s fucking hard.

Then, there are times when you come to a cross-road. It’s not about one thing. It’s about all things. You look at that face you know so well and wonder if you really know it at all. You do a lot of wondering…

The changing is happening every moment. You have very little control over how you change and how you grow. You just do and you expect the people you love to come with you.

Sometimes, they don’t. But, sometimes…they insist upon it.

I’ve only packed a bag once and I meant it.

And yet, we’re still here.

It’s not perfect and it never will be, but, it’s really quite beautiful in its difficulty.

My husband and I had a stand-off last week; a This Is Who I Am vs. I May Not Like Who You Are Becoming. It was intense and there was no give.

And then, there was give. Because someone gives instead of giving up. It’s part of the growing. It’s not all synchronized swimming. It’s bloody knees and stopping to help each other back up.

This is my marriage. It’s ugly and beautiful and hard and ultimately, perfect.

But, it’s never easy.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let’s play pretend.

Everyone has, at some point or another, played “Pretend”. Either in a tree, a parking lot, the schoolyard, or, in bed with a person after concluding it was far too late to roll out, grab your blouse, shimmy across the floor like a wounded caribou and go home to make love to your DVR instead. It happens. Let’s not dwell on my, I mean THE past.

There’s something so genuinely innocent about watching children let their imaginations run wild. It reminds us to dream outside of our circular responsibility pattern. That loop that varies but, mostly remains consistent. It’s a wake-up call to think big, live big and yes, to buy the damn Powerball ticket because 50 million is a lot of money to not win simply because you didn’t try. And, sometimes lightning does strike and when it does and it hits your tree and that tree falls into your neighbor’s car and home, you’ll be happy you have your Powerball earnings to snuggle with at night.

I watch my children create fantasy worlds that vary completely even when given the same tools. A whisk has been a wand, a telescope, the key that opened a treasure chest and the last piece of bread that my boxcar children shared in their treehouse. Sometimes, kids who aren’t hungry pretend that they are. There is something about this particular play that strikes me as so human. Hunger means we share what we have. Kids innately know this without being told.

Pretend does not always take on the face of kindness. There is angry pretend. There is fearful pretend. I hear them work out their phobias in pretend play that shapes itself as drowning, falling, being left alone, being lost, being eaten by animals and a myriad of other highly-uncomfortable-to-watch scenarios. At the end of the game, all who are dead come back to life. Death is profound and forever. They are not ready to truly pretend that.

I play pretend as well. Grown-up pretend is never as much fun. Sometimes, my husband and I pretend that we aren’t upset that someone fell asleep before the other could make it upstairs and the other pretends they aren’t upset because they can’t help falling asleep. BORING. So, we pretend that everything is OK because it mostly is. For this kind of pretend, the answers can’t be found in a whisk.

I think about how pretend can either nourish or starve authenticity. How sometimes we really are the fire breathing dragon. Sometimes, we’re the benevolent queen. Sometimes, we’re the pirate raiding the treasure chest. Sometimes, we’re the evil dictator. These pieces can all live inside of us honestly if we embrace them, and still not be the whole of who we are. Denying the existence of my dragon would only decrease my % of benevolent queen. Science.

I watch my children embrace their subconscious fears. In play, I watch them go to the places that terrify them most. I watch them return from the dark with even more light. I am reminded to try to process my fears in this same way. Say it out loud, live there for a moment and then, let it go. Return to gratitude and happiness. Live authentically.

The masks we put on must find their way back to the play room shelf.

Now, has anyone seen my wand? I need to scramble some eggs.