J and I spent our first married Christmas with both of our parents.
We were two lucky ducks.
We might not have been able to pull off a complete party of siblings, but we were able to spend that first December holiday with the four people who shaped, challenged and loved us through thick and thin. I doubled lucked out and also got to spend it with my brother, sister-in-law, aunts, uncle and cousins.
Now that the festivities have come and gone, and the cleaning up and rearranging are well underway, I am left with a checklist of chores and a bright bulbed Christmas tree. Our home, once filled with hubbub and conversation, is so quiet. J's gone tonight, and I miss the noise. He's moonlighting in an effort to earn some extra money so we can move out of our cozy 700 square foot condo and into a home.
I'm exhausted from our wonderful, busy weekend with family and friends, and all I have wanted to do the entire day, was veg out on the couch and watch a horrible Lifetime movie. But I couldn't do it knowing that J picked himself up by the boot straps and sacrificed a day of relaxation and hours of sleep tonight just so he could tap his foot one bit closer to our tiny little dream of having a guaranteed parking spot, enough space for both of us to be on the cell phone at once, and two bathrooms so we can each disappear and not worry that the other person is scampering around the living room trying to decide if he/I should run down High Street and directly into the first restaurant bathroom that catches his/my eye.
And so I worked. And I realized what it meant to be a partner. Last year, I would have grabbed a book and a glass of wine, or maybe even called a few friends and asked them to meet me out for a drink. This year, I cleaned. Scared of heights, I took small breaths battling the nausea of dangling my arms out the second floor window while I cleared away cobwebs and Windexed the grimy panes of glass I ignored for nearly three years because I was scared to pull them toward me. I also reorganized my closet, deciding what I could part with for a few months so I could fit J's clothes beside mine, and we could get rid of his makeshift closet, subsequently making our room feel a whole lot bigger. Then I scrubbed the tub--CLR, Mr. Clean sponge, Lysol, Norwex--the whole nine yards. We had some stains I previously hadn't been able to tackle, but I scrubbed them and soaked them for hours until my hands were soggy and nearly ever single "impossible" stain disappeared as much as is it could possibly disappear.
I also did the laundry, and as I sorted and folded, I reflected. Thinking through the course of my day, I realized that for the first time, I voluntarily--and subconsciously--did all of the things I LEAST wanted to do, because I knew J would have rather been doing a whole host of other activities on his day off. Instead, he chose to work so he could provide for me and for any little ones who may one day run through the halls of the home we save to buy. The least I could do was get on my hands and knees and make a sacrifice for us too.
This was a novel realization. In the past, I cleaned when I had time to clean. On days like today, days when I was tired and drained and wanted to do absolutely nothing, I always DID absolutely nothing; I postponed my chores because those chores didn't particularly affect anyone but me. Now that I have a partner, they belong to us both, and I suddenly had the desire to make our list shorter so we both could feel a little bit better about what we had to accomplish prior to prepping our place to sell.
It's funny how little moments strike you--moments when you know your life has changed. Nothing came swinging in on a wrecking ball, or tumbling in on a trapeze or barreling in like water plummeting from the clouds. Yet, as I folded the laundry, I realized that I have a teammate. I may not have been married before, but I know what it means to pull your weight on the ball field or out on the court. When someone dives, it makes you want to dive harder. When someone guts it out, it inspires you to fight the fight. When someone shows up, it makes you want to stand right along beside them. Those first few years after my college career ended were hard because I really missed having a team. But now I have one, and it feels incredible to realize I'm no longer going it alone.
J and I are lucky ducks--not just because we got to spend Christmas with both sets of parents--but because we have each other. We might be rookies, but we're a pretty good pair. And that makes me want to run a few extra sprints, throw fifty more pitches, take a dozen more swings--or simply brew some coffee, take him some dinner and then come home and tackle our chores.