Our family has been through a lot. I imagine all of our families have. Tim and I, since we've been married (12 years) have been through the sudden death of a parent (his dad), the death of 3 grandparents, 2 job losses (one traumatic, one that took 9 months to replace), 2 bouts of post-partum depression (one so severe it required hospitalization), 2 pregnancies that were riddled with debilitating migraines (one that in addition destroyed my hips making it impossible to sit, stand or walk) and 1 emergency surgery. There has been wonderful therapy. There have been lots of important conversations. And there have been many, many adjustments - of schedules, expectations, boundaries, lifestyle - you name it, we've transitioned to it or away from it.
During our most difficult time (the second and more serious bout with post-partum depression), I dreamed of exactly tonight. Now, it may seem silly to say that 4 years ago when our lives were coming apart at the seams, I dreamed of a family bowling night. And of course, I didn't literally. But when I had a 7 week old baby, a 5 year old starting kindergarten and a husband who hadn't slept more than an hour in 8 weeks and was hospitalized, I dreamed of being a functional, happy, healthy family of 4. HERE. WE. FUCKING. ARE.
I'm filled with joy. I can't tell you. There have been leaps and a million baby steps in between. And, as life would have it, many, many regressions. But what I hoped was that we would be able to hang out and do activities and have a good time. That there would be a point when stress would not come into play. We have had many moments where we powered through the stress and congratulated ourselves on taking the risk. The risk of traveling, staying all in one hotel room, going to the movies, getting on an airplane, taking a long car ride, eating in a restaurant, adjusting sleep schedules...so many risks. There was also a lot of compromise. For a few years, any big fun that I wanted to have with the kids needed to be had alone. And that was something we both agreed to, that though Tim was not ready for what I was ready to do (like Disneyland), I was and that was okay. That I wanted to do it whether he could join us or not. And the girls and I did some cool stuff during those years. It takes a lot of guts to be patient when you're not ready for something and just as many to push through the pain and develop stronger anxiety muscles. The dream was that one day we'd meet on the other side. Tonight, we did.
I am so, fucking proud.
Tim and I went bowling on our first date alone (our first official date was a double date at Disneyland and practically a blind date). That night was the first and only time I ever beat my husband in bowling. I can't tell you how pleased I was. And I've been trying to beat him again ever since! (Tonight was not that night). So when Tim signed us up for free bowling all summer, I thought, that could be fun. But how much bowling can a 3 year old really do? Turns out, when you have a sensory kid, she can lug a bowling ball around for 2 straight games and be completely good to go. Even our server commented on her gumption (she also almost beat me...I gotta step it up). And our non-sport-playing 9 year old got a chance to lose at something, which we all know is a critical life skill. She's actually pretty naturally gifted, but couldn't beat the combo of Penny's bumpers and ramp. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves tremendously.
It's important when you are living in your dream fulfilled that you take a second, step back, and soak it all up. That's what I'm doing. I'm proclaiming to the world - we made it! Here's to many more nights of fried food, bowling balls, movies, road trips, flights, whatever. We can take it and I'm so relieved.