On our wedding day, I said I belonged to you just as you belonged to me. In a Jewish marriage, this is the preach at the time of the wedding ring exchange, and at that moment, I looked into your eyes. There, I chose you.
It would be perfect if it weren’t for one detail: you do not belong to me and likewise, I do not belong to you. I chose you.
When I first saw you, my heart sank, my leg trembled, and I chose you. That night when we didn’t hear the fireworks, when I cried countless weeks for your absence, when I was with someone else but thinking of you, I chose you. And when I didn’t want to waste any more time and called inviting you out — you remember, right? — I chose you.
I wasn’t yet in my 20s, used to watch Dawson’s Creek, wore bear-faced pajamas and felt so miserably insecure. And you hugged me. For all that, I chose you. You traveled around the world, slept on the floor in India and backpacked to the Himalayas. I wish I had been a hippie, but never was. In admiration, I chose you.
With you, I moved to another state, regretted and cried 365 days in a row. You understood me in all of them — and again, I chose you.
I know you prefer to stay at home, science fiction, Frank Herbert, and Bukowski. I prefer to go out, drama, and Brazilian chronicles. Different strokes for different folks. I chose you.
But, oh yes, there were moments when I felt like throwing the heavy living room chair at you. Your mess, your annoying craze to repeat “I told you” about my mistakes, and especially about the changes that came when we decided to raise our family.
I, who was already a self-reliant woman and owner of my routine, thought that after reading a dozen books about pregnancy and children, I was ready for what would be coming up. I bought the anti-reflux pillow, the perfect stroller, and a beautiful crib. I studied the ideal position for our daughter to sleep, for colicky times and for breastfeeding. I decorated her bedroom, set up the hygiene kit and washed the newborn clothes. Until I eventually came face to face with chaos — much to my surprise — although every single detail had been taken care of according to the perfect mother’s guide.
I found out that real-life babies don’t fall asleep within seconds in bed, that their cry is much more distressing when we are the ones who have to figure its cause and I learned the meaning of puerperium and baby blues without looking it up in a dictionary. And while I was still thrilled to be able to brush my hair before noon and for any three uninterrupted hours of sleep at night, you gave me that sexy look and that irresistible half grin. And to return it, was all I didn’t want at the time. Mars versus Venus. Testosterone versus Estrogen. Excitement versus Exhaustion. But the bottom line is that, with the end of the postpartum no-sex quarantine period and although I had only a vague memory of what libido was, I took off my beige lingerie and breast protector — even at the risk of turning my nipples into a splashing fountain — and resumed our life as a couple.
The impact that the kids brought to our marriage was hard to predict. You simply couldn’t take care of the routine with a baby that same so-called perfect way I could. You rarely understood my tiredness, my bad mood, or how my head was also full of new dilemmas. With a maddening drowsiness, I just wanted to hug our little girl and sleep face to face with her for 85 straight hours – or 45 minutes at least – instead of rescuing the garter belt and the reasons I used to send you 15 messages a day saying “I love you.”
And the months went by. One day, watching one of those delicious laughs our daughter used to give, the side of her mouth curved just like yours. And your eyes sparkled just like mine. As partners in this new adventure, only our eyes could shine the same. And that’s when I remembered: I chose you. And all the reasons were still there, amid that craziness that took over our lives. The till-death-do-us-part type of romanticism is a cheap utopian thought; no one is happy and bouncy every single day.
Because you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met. Because we don’t have to pretend: I sleep with socks, I fall asleep in the middle of your favorite movies and during some nighttime conversations. Because, with you, silence is not inopportune. Because we are free to talk about anything. Because we’ve been through some spectacular moments together. Because we’ve been through terrible moments together. Because you pick all my fights. Because your eyes change according to your mood. And because even though the color of mine doesn’t, you can recognize the days when I simply don’t want to talk. Because you prefer my hair the way it is, my body the way it is, and me the way I am. Because you fulfilled my dream of motherhood twice and because we survived together to what came after it. Because you have amazing answers to our children. Because you put our family first in your life. Because your perfect program is to be home with the three of us. And because when we walk, you still give me your hand.
I chose you.
It is at your side that I live the greatest and best follies of my history. I do not belong to you, but I choose you every day of my life.