Saturday, March 15, 2014

Putting the "Us" in Hiatus

Once, a longish time ago--so long ago I don't remember exactly how long--Hubby and I were snuggled in on a night that turned out to be chillier than we'd expected.

I nudged him. "Do you think we need another blanket?"

He reached for an old blanket that was folded across the top of the cedar chest at the end of the bed. The blanket had been a hand-me-down from who the heck remembered where and we'd had it for the whole time we'd been together, ten years at least. When he held the blanket up to spread it out over us, there were spots thin enough to see through and a constellation of ragged-edged holes in various sizes.

"Baby," I said, sleepily, "that is not a blanket. That is a hole with a little blanket around it."

I would be embarrassed about how hard I laughed at my own joke were it not for the fact that, even now, years--nay, a decade and then some--later, I still get the giggles thinking of that moment.

I bring it up now not to flaunt my half-awake cleverness*, but so that you will understand what I mean when I say that this has become less a blog than a hole with a little blog around it.

I'm no triskaidekaphobe (though I am weirdly partial to words with two Ks in them), but here at Masked Mom headquarters, 2013 was a bit of a rough year in some ways I can't quite put my writerly finger on and, too, in some ways I can, but won't, at least not here on the blog.

Toward the end of the year, finally, it became clear that we were going to come out the other side of 2013 not only no worse for the wear, but in some ways better yet, which is how these things have a tendency of playing out, if we can only be patient enough to sit through the rough stuff.

I have mentioned here before that Hubby and I began our marriage at an absurdly tender age (though older than my own parents by a few years) in a hazy rush of hormones and impulsivity. I have mentioned, too, that the path has not always been smooth--which is a blog-sanitized understatement if ever there were one. But still, here we are--our twenty-sixth anniversary in the rear view mirror and twenty-seven fast approaching.

Very early on a morning in late November, our first grandchild was born, more than a month and a half ahead of schedule. At four-something in the morning, after mother and daddy and baby were deemed safe and as sane as could be expected, Hubby, Daughter-Only and I were driving back from the hospital on deserted roads through a snowstorm. The car was cozy warm and we were all awestruck and exhausted. Our conversation was a fragmented jumble of non-sequential moments from the night. Some of them we went back to again and again--for example, how the baby somehow looked feisty and fragile all at once and how both her parents looked pretty much the same.

Into a lull in this conversation, a weird thought wandered into my overstimulated brain. And as so often happens--particularly when my already faulty filter is further compromised by a heady combination of exhaustion and euphoria--immediately after this weird thought wandered into my brain, it wandered right out my mouth.

"Listen," I warned, "something just occurred to me. And, most likely, I shouldn't say it out loud, but I find that at the moment I completely lack the ability to not say it." I reached for Hubby's hand, which was sort of awkward because for some reason that I don't remember, he was riding in the backseat.

"Of all the people who attended our wedding, how many of them do you think thought we would still be together when our first grandchild was born?"

Hubby gave my hand a squeeze and chuckled. "Only us."

This was exactly the right thing to say and not exactly true at the exact same time.

I don't recall us being all that sure on the inside, though we talked a good game to anyone who asked. Predictably, the fact that everyone else's uncertainty was so much on display only served to solidify our own certainty, to harden our denial of that little voice inside each of us that was saying, "Hold up a second! You've known this person how long?"

I remember that at the time, the uncertainty was a tiny but terrifying force that was dulled only slightly by the haze of hormones and impulsivity. So terrifying was that tiny uncertainty that it felt necessary to try to bury it beneath shovelfuls of denial: of course we were sure, we had never been more sure of anything in our entire lives, thank you very much.

From this distant vantage point, the uncertainty seems not only perfectly logical, but a sign that, perhaps despite our young, impractical, hormone-addled selves, we actually were taking the marriage thing more seriously than anyone would've suspected. Of course we weren't sure, how the hell could we have been?

Now that we are older, slightly less impractical and still occasionally hormone-addled, the truth is that I distrust certainty far more than I do uncertainty. Sometime in the last few years, I woke up with this completely context-free thought in my head: "The things I've been the most sure of have often turned out to be the things I've been the most wrong about."

I am still certain of a few things, though. For example, this is certainly one of the most adorable and most loved babies on the planet:   
 Photo courtesy of her Mama. This photo was not taken specifically for First Granddaughter's debut on the blog, but I kind of thought the somewhat dubious expression on her face was appropriate for such an occasion.

And, for another example, I'm fairly sure that twenty-seven years of certainty and uncertainty and sometimes confusing one for the other can be woven into just enough blanket to hold all the threadbare parts together.

*But, c'mon! It was pretty clever.