Category Archives: Marriage

To My Husband, On Father’s Day

It’s hard, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life. I hear glimpses of the toll it’s taking on you — the deep sigh you breathe when our son calls out for attention just as we have curled up in bed. The slight smirk you give when he and I stand in the window and wave goodbye to you every single weekday morning. I know that smirk. It means your heart is somehow breaking and healing at the same time. I hear it in your apologies for forgetting to put an extra snack in the diaper bag so that he would survive the car ride peacefully. Or maybe it’s so I can survive the car ride peacefully. I forgot which one since I was too busy convincing myself I was not going to survive the car ride with a snackless baby.

It’s hard, isn’t it? To wake up a father, without a father, on Father’s Day. Hell, it’s hard to wake up a father, without a father, on Monday. Or Thursday. I see glimpses of the toll it’s taking on you — the pause it brings when our son kisses the framed picture of you and your parents. Each time you muster up the words “that’s my dad, your Grandpa Jim” and you leave it at that. And I stand back watching your heart break and heal at the same time. Grief is never without complication. And yet you seem to hold it — the grief, the complication — so seamlessly. As if, maybe, life and grief have always coexisted for you.

It’s hard, isn’t it? To wake up next to a woman who you once knew so fully, so wholly and watch her deteriorate and rebuild herself over and over and over again as she learns how to be a mother. And a wife. And a woman. I wonder if she felt as much a stranger to you as she did to me. I feel the toll it’s taking on you — the helplessness you feel as her body and mind break open to bring new life to your family. I feel the burden you carry as you desperately try to do more in attempts to match her sacrifice.

It’s hard, isn’t it? How we live in a world of competition and comparison and yet, sacrifice and suffering and joy cannot be compared. Nor can they be separated.

It is good, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life. I hear glimpses of the unhinged bliss you hold — the laughing till we cry as we watch and re-watch videos of our son trying to swing his little golf club and hit the ball. The mutterings of ‘god he is so cute’ as we pull our mattress into his room for the night so we can be closer to him. I sometimes think you are actually telling God how cute our child is, since we have both agreed that we aren’t so sure about what God does and doesn’t know these days. I hear your bliss in his laughter. And somehow in his tears, too. You have always been a safe place for tears.

It is good, isn’t it? To not have known a safe place and yet to have somehow created one for yourself. And for your son. To wake up a father, to a son. To show up a father, to a son. Again and again and again. I see glimpses of the joy it gives you when he mumbles ‘Dada’, as if he is knighting you as a good man. It’s as if you knew you always had a father in you even if you didn’t have a father fathering you. I see the redemption unfold in games of chase, running through sprinklers, and unwavering calmness in the face of a meltdown (mine or the 15 month olds).

It is good, isn’t it? To partner with your best friend and watch new parts of her unfold as she becomes a mother, even if the new parts are slightly more rageful than you would prefer. I think you’ve always known she had a fire inside. I feel the deep love you carry in the way you still carry me — whether it’s to bed or through depression. And now, I feel the deep love you carry in the way you’ve come to let me go — to give me space to be alone, write, rest, or drive to the ocean. Carrying is never without letting go. And yet you seem to live in their tension so seamlessly. As if life, maybe, has always been about holding on and letting go for you.

It is hard, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life.
It is good, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life.
I fear that it will always be both.
I also fear that we might be made for both.

But I am grateful to do both — the hard and the good; the parenting, partnering, life — with you.

And our son? He might not be able to talk much, but you can see it, feel it, hear it in his entire being — he is grateful, too.

Your Wife

Six Months.

YOU GUYS. Elden is six months old today!!! But who the hell cares? What this really means is that we have officially survived six months of parenting in this way!!! Sure Elden can roll over and has started eating actual food, but we are parents! Parenting. Like (and night). For SIX MONTHS. And okay, fine, his laugh is real cute and he loves being tickled and held, but me and Casey?! Check us out! We are feeding him and burping him and we wipe his butt like 10 times a day and sometimes we even give him a bath!

And! And! And! We know the difference in his cries. Guys, I thought babies having “different cries” was some sort of urban legend that women used to make other women feel like shit when they couldn’t answer the question “oh what does this cry of his mean?” (my answer for awhile: ummmm, it means he is crying.) But babies really do have different cries. There’s the ‘feed me’ cry, the ‘I’m uncomfortable’ cry, the ‘I’m in excruciating pain’ cry, the ‘I’m annoyed I can’t communicate articulately with you’ cry, and there’s the ‘parents! One of you better get your ass in here or I’m gonna lose it’ cry. AND WE KNOW THEM ALL.

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The Sainthood of a Good Father

Mother Teresa was canonized this past weekend. And apparently, my husband is going to be soon. (Although I don’t think you can canonize a living person. But I’m sure they are working on writing a new order for this so they can canonize Casey.)

Look, I love my husband. Choosing him to be my life partner is part of my greatest legacy. Choosing him to be the father of our child; one of my best choices. But, don’t get it twisted, he isn’t Mother Teresa. Excuse me, Saint Teresa.

He’s human. And mostly a good one. But when other people (usually women) witness him father, when they witness him partner with me, you’d think he was a saint.

“Wow. Noelle. Do you realize how lucky you are?”

(Thinking, in my head, as I take my first bite of my lukewarm dinner) ‘lucky? Because we are eating? Yes. I’m lucky. I’m sorry did you want me to say grace?’

And then it hits me. Oh no, I’m “lucky” because my husband just took Elden on a little walk outside of the restaurant. I had been holding Elden and he started to get fussy, so Casey took him. And apparently this makes me lucky.

And apparently, this act of parenting (and others like it) makes Casey a saint.

I’ve learned, quickly, that the world/culture/society is not used to mostly good men. We aren’t used to good husbands/partners or decent dads. The bar has been so lowered that the small act of holding the small human that your small sperm helped create (or the small human that you chose to parent) now counts as one of the two miracles needed to be canonized.

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Solo Roadtrip; Send Help

Alright, mamas. I need some help. Tomorrow, on Elden’s 145th day on this side, I am making an up and back in one day roadtrip without him. I will see him when he wakes up in the morning and be home before his bedtime.

I’m currently staring at him happily singing to the birdies above him and tears are filling my eyes. How in the actual hell am I gonna get in the car tomorrow morning and drive away without him?

It’s not that I’m worried that he won’t be safe or happy. I’m lucky in that sense. Hanging with his dad all day is pretty great. Which is why I decided to hang with that guy my whole life.

It’s not that what’s in store for me doesn’t completely mean the world to me. I’ll see my sisters and they are everything.

It’s not I don’t want to go.

It’s just that since he came, since he grew in me, and with me, I am no longer fully contained in my own body. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been bigger than my body. But now, part of me exists fully outside of me. I am wound up in his 17lbs of goodness, and his 27inches of love. So when I go and he stays, I somehow stay too.

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Our baby is due three months from today. Three freaking months. I always have these lofty ideas that I am going to write way more than I actually write. I will write Baby letters. I will write my way through pregnancy. I will write out my fears, my hopes and all the in-betweens. But then the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills comes back on. And basketball season starts. And dinner has to be made (every. damn. night.). So instead, I fill my phone notes with blurbs and random thoughts. And they stay there. Husband, when I die please delete these notes, along with my Google search history. Or put them in a book and sell them for big bucks and live off of my legacy of brilliance (and humility).

I am a writer, yes. I will not let that name be taken away because life is getting lived. I am a scatter-brained writer. A writer with like twelve-hundred blogs that have been started and deactivated over the past ten years. Every few years I just have to shed some skin. And writing is how I shed the skin that houses and holds me.

(This feels like a really poetic way of convincing myself that it is good for my soul to watch trashy TV instead of writing. And to that I say, amen.)

For this post, I am going to hold the old skin of my old soul in my open hands and say ‘look. Here it is. Let’s talk about it.’ I am committed to talking about things that are hard to talk about. Thoughts that are often hidden beneath the thoughts about all the things we should do, all the kind of people we should be. Pregnancy, like life, is full of shoulds. Marriage, like life, is full of shoulds. Pregnancy and marriage together, yep, just a lot more shoulding.

Casey and I have a relationship that is grounded and kind and so full of love. And like. I like this man, a lot. Sometimes I don’t even refer to what we have as ‘marriage’ because it feels too sacred for a word that seems to have lost so much of its meaning in our culture. If there is one thing I know about Casey and I, it’s that we are on the same team. And our team kicks ass. The other thing I kind of know is that pregnancy is kicking our team’s ass.

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