Wow, what a week this is for my little family.

Father’s Day on Sunday, Landon’s birthday yesterday, my wedding anniversary on Friday, and Landon’s much anticipated pool party on Saturday. This week has always been a busy week ever since we had Landon, but this year, my husband and I are apart. I am here in West Virginia and he is actually on a business trip in Texas. My week has been filled with cupcake surprises, spoiling myself to a new hair doo, and party planning in full swing.

My kids and I are having a great time on our summer vacation in the mountains, but my goodness, I’m utterly exhausted. Every night when I head to bed to begin working on my college summer coursework, which takes me far into the deep hours of the night, the heels of feet ache. Toting around tiny humans to visit family and keeping them entertained in between visiting festivities is absolutely, no doubt about it exhausting. I’m not sure I have ever truly realized the size of the load that my husband carries. It isn’t until you lose that other hardworking half that you realize how hard it is to move without it.

My daughter specifically is driving me crazy. She misses her dad profusely, so she is lashing out by suctioning cupping herself to my side. Without a doubt, that child is a daddy’s girl. I’m about ten seconds from mailing her back to Daddy in a “if it fits, it ships” box.

Between the exhaustion of parenting without my other half and all the time driving the country backroads of the state that grew our little story in the first place, I have reflected a bit on my marriage just in time for our five-year wedding anniversary.

I love that we are both obsessed with food and many of our first dates surrounded food. For both us, the best part of a vacation is heading over to Yelp and figuring out our eating venues. Never cut in front of either of us at a sushi buffet, that’s all I am saying.

I love that we challenge each other, and I love that he has always, and continues to, push me out of my comfort zone. He once got me to jump off a very, very high rock into Summersville lake. I walked away from the whole thing with bruises on my bum and an everlasting nightmare of the absolutely ridiculous thing I once did to impress a boy. Pro tip: don’t cannon ball when you’re jumping a significant height into a lake. Before getting married and moving to the Midwest, he spent the summers introducing me to 4-wheeler rides, camping, fishing, etc.—basically all the things I would have never spent my summer doing before he came into my life. I have to admit, I am still not a fan of camping and you won’t catch me putting a worm on a hook this summer, but I am proud of the experience and grateful for the counterpart that encouraged me to dip my toe in something different.

I love that our connection has always had the durability to span miles apart. We spent the first part of our relationship as pen-pals, only seeing each other once every couple months. I was at one college, and he was at another. Even after I transferred to be at the same college as him, I worked numerous summer camps that kept our summers apart. We also grew up in different places, so holidays were very rarely spent together because logistically it just didn’t work. Regardless of all that space, we endured. There were times both of us had our doubts, of course, but ultimately, we rose above it. Even now, with the kids and my departure east for the summer, we’re good. I’m exhausted from solo-parenting, but in July we will pick up where we left off as if we were never apart. That is just how we roll.

I love that we are both imperfect, and we can admit it. Neither of us are particularly astounding parents, but we have built ourselves on the fact that we’ve never claimed to be. Every day that the kids are happy and healthy, we give each other a high-five because we both agree that that’s the best we can do. We love them, we love each other, and really, that’s all they need besides a nonstop flow of Golden Oreos and apple juice. Adulting pretty much goes the same. For each day we make it without totally messing everything up, we celebrate. However, I must say that we are really starting to get the hang of it these days. I would consider us at least halfway functioning adults at this point.

Beyond all, I love that our biggest martial issue right now is my ability to fill a trash can and our dire need to invest in a second trash toter. We have had our ups and our downs and our really greats and our really bads, but we have reached a plateau of calm as of late. We aren’t jumping off rocks into lakes or adventuring into the woods for spontaneous camping trips. Instead, we are curing boo boos and refilling juice cups and trying to not dose off on family movie night. The biggest thing we fight over right now is his reluctance to invest in a second trash toter and my insane ability to fill a trash can within a couple hours. If he nags me about filling up that trash can before Tuesday one more time, I’m going to lose it. But really, if you ask me, we’re doing real, real good, and I am grateful for that. If the trash is our biggest disagreement right now, then I’ll take it.

We haven’t made it to the clear yet, and we have a whole lot more life to tackle between now and our empty nester days, but as we cross that five year line in our marriage, all I can say is that I am grateful for the marriage I have to celebrate. We bicker, we snap, especially when our kids are being hyenas, but ultimately, we are good and we are grateful. A person can’t ask for much more than that, right? On most days, we are ying and yang, but really that’s how all the best things in life work.

To my husband on the eve of our anniversary, I’ll always be grateful for our crossed paths just about nine years ago at West Virginia Wesleyan where it all began and that snow ball to the face that set off the dominos that led us here.

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