Do you remember all those years ago when we thought it would be a good idea to get married and have kids?
Do you remember when we were young and well-rested, when we had fewer wrinkles and our biggest decision was which movie to see on a Saturday night?
Do you remember when we looked at each other with twinkly-eyed visions of what the future would look like, what parenting would be like, what marriage would be like?
Do you remember how we thought we knew AllTheThings and had AllTheAnswers? We thought we were hot shit and had things figured out. We knew how to parent and adult, even though we weren’t parents and we had only been adults for a hot minute.
We were so cute back then, so young and in love. So certain that we had the secret to success at marriage and parenting.
We were also total idiots. Because we had no freaking idea.
I had no idea that parenting would be so hard and scary and fun and exhausting and meaningful. I had no idea what parenting was really like.
And I also no idea what marriage was really like.
I had no idea marriage would mean biting your tongue and not saying “told you so,” or that love would look a lot like socks picked up off the floor and emergency trips to the grocery store for cookies, or that teamwork sounded a lot like mutual lies to your children about Chuck E. Cheese’s being closed for the summer.
I had no idea date nights would be falling asleep on the couch together while you watch re-runs of Arrested Development.
I had no idea it was possible to be attracted to someone covered in vomit because there is nothing sexier than a man who will hold a 2-year-old with the stomach flu.
I had no idea listening to our kids’ giggles while we dance and kiss in the kitchen could be so romantic.
I had no idea marriage would mean waiting up for you when you work late at night, drinking cup after cup of coffee, only to fall asleep five minutes before you get home; or that love looks a lot like covering someone with a blanket when they fell asleep trying to wait up.
I had no idea marriage was bickering about things like socks and toilet seats and whether to buy a new couch; that the television could spark arguments that last three days; or that we would have so many conversations about poop, 529 plans, and that mystery stain on the carpet.
I had no idea marriage would be so hard sometimes, or that it’s OK that marriage is hard because some of the most beautiful things in life — marriage, parenting, friendship — are really hard, and that maybe it’s because these things are really fucking hard things that they are so damn beautiful.
I had no idea marriage meant growing up together, growing old together, and acting young together; pretending not to see stretch marks or receding hairlines; and somehow being more attracted to each other in your 40s than you were in your 20s.
I had no idea a sigh or groan or giggle could be substituted for entire sentences, and that without saying a word, we would know exactly what each other is trying to say.
I had no idea the best anniversary gift would be an understanding that there will be no gifts at all, and that the sweetest love letter could be a Post-It note left on the nightstand on Saturday morning saying “I took the kids out for breakfast,” or a text on Monday afternoon saying, “I’ll pick up dinner on my way home.”
I had no idea it was possible to be someone’s biggest supporter and toughest critic, and that in being both things, you help each other be your best self.
I had no idea marriage would mean so much laughter and tears — usually at inappropriate times — or that love looks a lot like fistfuls of candy bars brought home in response to a text message that says “need chocolate.”
I had no idea it was possible to love someone who is on the wrong side of the real-or-artificial Christmas tree debate.
I had no idea the word husband would eventually become inadequate because, at some point, you became husband-father-lover-friend-teammate-cheerleader-advocate-protector-confidante with a dash of something indescribable that feels a lot like magic.
I had no idea that it was OK to have no idea because marriage means you get to figure it out together.
This article was originally published on