It's been 10 years since my husband and I walked down the aisle on our wedding day -- an anniversary we celebrated last week. That's 120 months; about 520 weeks; 3,650 days; somewhere around 87,600 hours; 5.2 million minutes.
And yet, it's been the fastest years of my life. There's a saying that the days are long and the years are short, and that's particularly true when there are kids in the house. The first couple of years of marriage, those before we had kids, seem like another life, filled with dinner dates and evenings out with friends, home improvement projects and walks with our dog.
But the last 8 years, those when our oldest daughter was born, then our son, and finally our youngest daughter last year, have gone by seemingly in an instant. I guess that's what happens when there's very little sleep, diapers to change, clothes to fold and dinner to get ready. Life goes by so quickly that when there's time to breathe, your kids are in elementary school. Then things get hectic again, and then it's time to send them off to college, I guess.
In the hectic, crazy life we lead, I've discovered how important it is to take time out for each other, to be thankful for the little things, to make sure your spouse knows you're thankful and that they are loved.
When we got married, I knew very little about marriage, and I admit that a decade in, and I'm still learning. But as a newlywed, I imagined dinner parties and decorating a home. I envisioned learning to cook (that really never happened, you can ask my husband) and serving it on our new china. I imagined making a home and raising a family, all alongside my partner, my best friend.
But really, I had no clue. I was raised by divorced parents. The closest thing I knew to marriage was from watching my grandparents, including my grandfather, who may have just been the most patient man alive.
When I walked down that aisle, I had very little knowledge of what a day-to-day marriage would be like.
As most couples likely experience, marriage is not all puppies and rainbows. I never imagined we'd go through such devastating loss the first few years: The loss of a grandparent, recurrent miscarriages, the loss of my husband's hearing after too many surgeries to count, the loss of our trees in our beautiful neighborhood after a 2011 tornado.
There are hard times, sometimes more than you like to admit; tough, teeth-gritting times when it doesn't seem like there will be light at the end of the tunnel. But then, suddenly there is the light, and you realize that marriage can be so amazing, too. It's the first smile or giggle from an infant child or rejoicing together in that child's first steps. It's the moments on the sideline of the soccer field, cheering your kid on together. It's the times after a long day at work when you are exhausted and feel you have nothing left to give, and yet your spouse makes you laugh. And suddenly, your long day dissolves and becomes so much better.
The butterflies and excitement of dating or even engagement quickly fade. But I've learned that it's during the day-to-day routine, the hours upon hours of life, you are somehow building something. A decade later, I look back and see the life we've built together, brick by brick.
And this Thanksgiving, I'm so thankful for all of it, all 5.2 million minutes.
-- Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.