They are almost strangers to me now. My husband and I have changed
so much from that day 31 years ago. We might not even recognize our
younger selves if we walked past them on a street.
I can see bits
and pieces of them in our children from time to time. In a pair of
eyes. In the way one son taps his foot or in the way another son
spells phonetically. I see them in the artistic endeavors of my
daughter and, for at least three of my children, in the shape of
their big toes.
All those things are still there today in my husband and me, but
we don't look the same at all. We have more wrinkles and less hair.
What hair we have is a different color or growing in different
places. We have more ailments and fewer teeth. My husband's foot
tapping has slowed and my memory takes short vacations.
However, strange as we have become, we are still the same people.
When our best man (whom we haven't seen in 20 years) toasted us with
a goblet of champagne, I had visions of picket fences and
sweet-faced children, tire swings and sandboxes, kittens and
hamsters, trips to the beach, and lazy summer afternoons.
My husband was sure that he would be a millionaire by the time he
turned 30, though he had no plan for that. After that goal was
attained, we would travel the world on a sailboat that we'd call
home, and we would learn to scuba dive and hang glide.
They were worthy goals. We probably should have known that we
would need to compromise, but we were in love. We knew we could work
Our children could have been sweet-faced. I'm not sure. It was
hard to tell with all the Kool-Aid mustaches and chocolate ice cream
smiles. A picket fence would not have helped to corral those
intrepid little rascals, though.
Becoming a millionaire by age 30 might have been possible if
there weren't so many mouths to feed. We should have had a better
plan. Or better yet, any plan.
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We had the sandbox, but the kittens, which grew into cats (who
knew!), couldn't be convinced that it wasn't a gigantic litter box.
The hamsters all got loose and drowned themselves in the sump pump
hole. That's not in any of the parenting books.
The sailboat turned out to be impractical because there was no
way to contain the Legos that multiplied exponentially with every
birthday and Christmas. Besides, neither of us knew how to operate a
sailboat, and my husband developed an allergy to the sun ...
literally. I didn't know that could happen. Lazy summer afternoons
require some strategic planning now and lots of sunscreen, hats and
swimming while wearing a T-shirt.
Scuba diving would have been a good skill to learn, I suppose,
but I hate what salt water does to my colored hair. Plus, it
occurred to us that there are creatures in the ocean that might
think we were dinner. If we did have a plan for our lives, getting
eaten would not fit into it, I'm sure.
And hang gliding? That's hilarious.
Since we didn't have a sailboat, traveling the world would be
very expensive, and we were trying to become millionaires after all.
So traveling would be accomplished by car, with rest stops every
half-hour where each kid was required to run laps around the car
until they were too tired to talk.
The people in that picture frame had no idea what they were
getting into, thank goodness. They were the picture of bliss. And
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated
columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.