When Odie and I were planning our wedding, I asked a close friend who could not attend to choose a reading for the ceremony. She chose “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I know. With a name like “Mountain Dreamer,” it has to be some hippy shit, right? Oh, it was. And it was perfect for us.
About three years earlier, Odie and I had attended our first wedding together. The groom was the best man from Odie’s first marriage (the answer to your question is “Yes, awkward as hell). Coincidentally, they had the same reading at their wedding. During our ceremony, which they attended, I noticed them exchange a smiling look of recognition when my sister started the reading. It’s very long, so I edited it. I cut out one part in particular:
“It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.”
It’s a beautiful sentiment, of course, but at that other wedding we went to, there was something about the way the bride said that last line that sounded… Well, let’s just say, it got an unintentional laugh from the congregation. Plus, Odie and I weren’t planning on having any children (says the woman who is 39 and pregnant with her second daughter — so much for plans!).
I bring this up, because V had croup last night. She has been struggling with her two-year molars for a while now, and our nights have been rough. She tosses and turns and kicks. She wakes up and cries. She asks for milk, then screams, “NO MILK! NO MILK! I DON’T WANT IT!” and then begs for it again… And we get up at 5:30 every morning to have her at day care by 7:15 and be at work ourselves by 7:45. So, to say that we are “weary and bruised to the bone” is a very accurate description.
I loved the reading, chosen by my daughter’s namesake. She, herself, had it read at her own wedding. I adored her love story. She and her husband were bicoastal for decades. He on the East (where she was also from), she on the West, where she’d made a life. They got engaged in the early nineties. Many years later, I noticed that the engagement ring was gone. She didn’t talk about it much, but apparently, he didn’t want to live in California, and while he could travel with his work (he is a musician and a massage therapist), she could not. Her clients were all here. So, they kissed and parted. Somehow, though, they found a way to make it work, and they were married ten years after they’d first become engaged. Eleven years later, they are still happily married.
When I read the piece she had chosen to be recited by my sister at our nuptials, I didn’t “get” a lot of it. There is hope there, but also darkness. Now that I have been married for four years and have a child, I get it. Rereading it before I wrote this blog had tears streaming down my face. YES. That is marriage. And though we all chuckled at my friends’ wedding, over her very, er, UNromantic wedding sentiment of dragging your ass out of bed on a dreary night to feed screaming kids, that is a perfect description of what marriage and parenthood require of us. I hear Odie’s heavy sigh as he sleepwalks to the kitchen for the bottle of milk. I can’t go, because V will get hysterical if I leave her side, and we want her to stay as much asleep as possible. I can tell that Odie is exhausted and irritated. But when he hands the bottle to her, his voice is gentle and loving, “Here you go, my sweetheart. Here’s your milk,” he says to her. She grabs it greedily and begins gulping. After two seconds, thrusts it toward him, “NO DADDY! NO! NO MILK!” He sighs, but responds to her kindly. “Okay, honey. No milk,” and takes the bottle back to the kitchen. Weary. Bruised to the bone.
Often, the mornings are not pleasant. We thank the gods for their sweet gift of coffee (I only indulge on weekends), and for the blessing of employment in these hard times. Since we are teachers with fat pensions, we know that we are entirely to blame for the global economic meltdown, so we take our lumps and drag ourselves to work.
For the children.