Last Wednesday was my wedding anniversary. We're now four years (legally) in to this thing and that feels impossible, somehow. Surely the time we've spent together, the things we've endured (are enduring) are from a life twice, thrice as long. Not just the span of a high school education.
But, as it were, we couldn't make plans for a fancy dinner or night out due to the fact that it was (a) a freaking Wednesday and (b) Kyle's school has been basically holding a grant-funded stipend hostage for two months from nearly 40 teachers because the guy that has to sign off on it doesn't like Kyle's principal. The teachers did the work required of them, the principal took care of the paperwork, and some asshole down at Central Office has the list of people to send to HR on his desk, doing nothing about it.
Because that's an awesome way to treat your employees, and their families. Supposedly the teacher's union is getting involved, but there was a kerfuffle last week at Kyle's school that has, at the hand of the same Central Office Asshole, has superseded PAYING PEOPLE WHAT THEY'RE OWED.
So while we've been waiting with baited breath that every new paycheck would have this substantial stipend on it, every paycheck has been disappointing and has caused us to squeeze each penny harder and harder as our hopes for things like paying off some bills and getting the kids Halloween costumes become oppressively bleak.
But last Wednesday was a nice day, a little chilly but bright and autumnal, so in defiance against despair, we took the kids to the pumpkin barn down the street from my mom's house, and we let them romp on a Family Date.
Of course, coming here brings back memories of that first anniversary, that year we weren't together, where I brought an infant Kiedis to take photos with the pumpkins, in that same corner of the barn my kids kept flocking to, to hug the big pumpkins too heavy to be on the primitive shelves. But in a way, to see us come back to this place, year after year, and to be able to look back at those photos, of my children growing up amidst strife and orange gourds with the ease and grace of innocence, it soothes me and takes the sting away from that time. Then, I took my son to the pumpkin barn to cheer myself up, to be as good of a mom as I could given the circumstances -- but all he probably remembers is how the pumpkins felt under his still-squishy hands, or the taste of a contraband piece of straw, or my face mugging at him to smile as I peered around a camera, feigning the happiness I so desperately wanted us all to have.
While now toddlers, I may not get the photos I once could of my immobile eight-month-old, but sometimes the backs of them together as they run into the future together, that's imperfectly perfect. They're fascinated by open spaces and country things like barns and tractors and chickens and horses, and I'm not sure if this is proof of their urban upbringing or some cyclical return to their "roots" as both of my parents have had farms in their families, but it brings me quiet joy to see them unafraid for once, just reveling in the space that usually intimidates them so much, just fifteen minutes away, at home. Still shots are near impossible, yet in motion is how I see them in my mind, so perhaps that's more apt anyway.
We let them wear themselves out and take late naps once we returned home, running our budget to see if we could afford take out instead of leftovers without cutting our dwindling grocery budget too short before the next paycheck. We opened a cheap bottle of wine and watched TV without too many demands on our time and while not flashy or overly celebratory, it seemed right, this low-key anniversary.
Maybe next year, at five, we'll be able to do something a wee bit more grand, a tiny bit more like the honeymoon we never got to take, the anniversaries thus far we've only marginally been able to celebrate.
But for now, for now, this is perfect.