Dear Aidan and Zac,
Before the two of you came along, there was the two of us – me and Papa.
We met in 1998, got together when the new millennium rolled in, broke up a couple of years later, realised that nobody else measured up to each other, got back together again (it’s all been recorded down for posterity here), and then recited our wedding vows to our family and friends on a rainy September 14 evening in 2008.
After the wedding, we made a home and decided it was time to have children. We tried, failed, went for numerous IUIs, took the plunge and went for IVF, failed and then were pregnant by surprise – twice. That’s where you two come in.
Six and a half years of parenthood have flown by. We fought, cried, sunk into our beds each night in sheer exhaustion, drank copious amounts of caffeine, laughed at every antic you display, burst with joy at every milestone that you hit and drove our blood pressure sky high whenever you did something that made us mad. We stopped holding hands because we had to hold yours, and then started holding hands again when you decided you no longer needed ours to keep you steady. We kissed you, and we kissed each other just to make you squeal.
That’s your papa and I, in a nutshell. That’s 10 years of marriage summed up in a few pithy words. These words, of course, are not quite enough to encapsulate every moment, every tear, every smile, every angry thought, every loving gesture, every frustrated silence, every (temporary…trust me) murderous intent.
Oh yes, anger and frustration and sadness. There’s definitely some of those in our marriage.
Because you see, my dear littles, our marriage is not perfect. We have highs and lows. There are times when we love each other dearly but dislike each other intensely concurrently. There are moments when we would rather be alone than with each other. There are times when we want to spend time with others, away from each other (and you…but you’d probably cry if I tell you that so oops.)
And you know what? That’s absolutely fine. I’ve only been married once in my life but I reckon that no married couple go through only the highs and never the lows. At the end of the day, if there is anything that you learn from our marriage, it is that we make our choice. Every. Single. Day.
We choose to love each other. We choose to let each other have that last piece of chocolate. We choose to let go of our individual pride and be the unit that our family needs. We choose to walk our own path together, away from the naysayers.
We choose us, over and over again.
Remember, our marriage is a choice made by two individuals to commit to each other. We are still individuals but we are also equal partners.
And so it has been for the past 10 years. And for many more 10 years, hopefully.
You always tell mummy that you don’t want us to die, you want us to stay with you forever. Well, my darling boys, you know that is impossible and that’s okay. Because I am pretty damn sure that when papa and I are dead and gone, we will still be together. If not in your hearts and memories, then probably in the afterlife, roaming the world together as we have always intended.
Here’s to many more wedding anniversaries celebrated with the two of you, the greatest gifts of our marriage.
Dear amazingly beautiful wife of mine, whose loins from which our offspring were birthed,
I cannot believe that we have spent exactly 17 years of our lives together. I still remember the day vividly: we were standing on top of the Sheares Bridge. As the clock struck midnight, the ships in the far off horizon released their flares and I asked you to be mine.
What a lucky man I was! Truly fortuitous! I count my lucky stars every other day!
And since you have been penning letters to me almost every year since then and I have never done so, I decided to do so today. To thank you for making me the luckiest sod on earth.
Thank you for incubating and subsequently birthing our two sons, the heirs to my esteemed family. My ancestors would be so proud of you! While they (the sons, not the dead ancestors) piss the crap out of me on a daily basis (because I am a magnificent grumpy old beast), I would not trade them for a million dollars in the world. (I may consider $1.5 million, though. Any takers?) My family thinks that they are my carbon copies but I reckon all their glorious and creative traits can only be from you. Because you are glorious and creative.
Thank you for lifting the household on your tiny, delicate shoulders. I will never wonder aloud why you are so tired. I know it is because your mind is always preoccupied by our needs. Without you, we won’t have toilet paper embossed with pretty flowers to clean our smelly backsides. Without you, we will not emerge from our baths smelling of organic lavender, our skins moisturised with lotions made only from natural ingredients. Without you, we will be eating rice, fried egg and dark soy sauce everyday as nobody will know what groceries to buy. Without you, our children will be uneducated heathens who do nothing but watch TV all day because YOU sorted out all their education and enrichment needs. I could go on, the list of our needs is surprisingly long. How on earth have I never noticed that in almost five years of parenthood, I will never know.
(Mostly because I am a MAN.)
Thank you for being so easy to love and please. Why, I don’t even have to buy you fancy jewellery or bring you out to expensive dinners to make you happy! All it takes is a trip to the hawker centre with a good char bee hoon and a solid cup of teh-si and your sweet, simple mind is satisfied. And you even buy your own jewellery and bags, out of your own pocket. Ha ha ha! You are quite the fool in love but as my idol Steve Jobs said, stay foolish!
Thank you for always putting our family first. You gave up your career to be the one who is grounded, so that our children can be picked up on time every single day (because you hate the thought of them seeing their friends leave while they remain in childcare). Even though you may be stressed from your own volume of work, you never fail to do this, because I have to work late every other day. Or travel to another continent for weeks on end. Meanwhile, you keep the household running, the children fed, bathed, read to and slept.
Thank you, most of all, for putting up with me all these years. As I said earlier, I am indeed the most magnificent grumpy old beast. Just like wine, I age and mature beautifully although I can be a teeny weeny bit short-tempered. Seriously, I don’t know why you put up with me. Oh wait, I do. It’s because you are just the most amazing and patient woman in the world! How lucky of me that you have both drop-dead gorgeous looks and virtue! Never mind that you are a bit on the, err, slender side, those un-wide hips have spawned two male descendants for my great family and THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.
So, 17 years huh. What an idiot you are, I mean, what great taste you have as am clearly a stud. I love you more than words can say and I love you so much that I hope when it is time for us to go, I will go first (only because you said you will haunt my new wife if I remarried after your death).
Written on behalf of my husband. I know he would have written this, if he could.
To my love,
Happy eight! Believe me when I say that I am simply amazed that we have survived eight years of being married to each other. Some days are harder than others, it’s true. I know that there have been moments when I would have gladly stabbed you with a blunt fork. But okay, that’s not really a tactful thing to tell you on our anniversary.
At the end of the day though, it’s always been you. No matter how hard I tried, nobody else makes me laugh the way you do. Nobody hugs me right the way you do. Nobody lets me poke fun at him the way you do. Nobody gets my crazy obsessions the way you do. Nobody feeds me the way you do.
Most importantly, nobody gets me the way you do.
(And also, nobody infuriates me the way you do. It must be true love.)
Thank you for having the foresight those years ago to see that we can be a possibility. You were always the smart one for marrying a smarter woman. We may be completely clueless about what may happen tomorrow but I am sure as hell glad that I am doing this with you.
Happy anniversary! I love you like crazy.
Early this morning, husband took off on his business trip. We’ve never really been apart ever since we got together, barring his business trip to Chicago almost three years back.
And it feels odd.
We are not the sort who do things together all the time. He has a life and so do I. While we have a very, very large common pool of friends, we do have social connections that do not overlap. Even when we are together, we like to have our own space to do our own thing.
But now, as the partner who is left behind, I am feeling such a strange gap. It feels like someone amputated my limb and replaced it with a prosthetic. Like, I can do all these things by myself and I know I can handle this household with these two littles on my own. I can go for parent-teacher meeting, throw the kiddo a birthday party and juggle my full-time job and their schedules by myself (even though it’s tiring as hell).
The limb is working but feels empty, void. Like there is something bereft.
I suppose it’s natural, given that I am the one “left behind”. I suppose this means I am missing the man. I suppose that this also means that I have probably taken our partnership for granted. And I suppose this means I need to start getting used to it because there will probably be more of these trips.
I suppose this tells me that while yes, I can live without this man, I don’t want nor like to.
One day down, 13 more to go before my partner comes back and fills this gap up with his larger than life presence.
We were out shopping a couple of weeks back and I stopped by the window of H&M Men’s, thinking to myself, Wow, those are some really spiffy outfits. Too bad my husband can’t fit into these clothes.
Now, back when I was a young and naive and pretty silly girl, I thought I was going to marry a guy who was tall like my papa, sporty like my papa and pretty damn good looking. Would he have brains? Dunno. Would he treat me like an equal? Never thought of it. I wanted the guy who would fit into those clothes at H&M, I wanted the jock, never mind if he had any grey matter between his ears. WHO CARES AS LONG AS HE IS CUTE.
And then when I was 18, I met this guy who was NOTHING like the boyfriend that I had imagined. He was this fat chap who did not care to exercise, who preferred tinkering with computers to playing ball, who had a good set of pipes but refused to sing TO me. He was, frankly speaking, a GEEK back when geeks weren’t exactly in.
Oddly enough, he and I got together. I say oddly enough because I think we confounded everyone else around us. We probably confounded me too. I mean, he did not exactly check all the boxes that I had. And then we were together, we fought, we had cold wars, we broke up, we realised we didn’t like being away from each other and then we were together again. AH, YOUNG LOVE.
Here we are today, 16 years from the night when we said, okay let’s do us. We stood at Sheares Bridge, watching as flares burst across the night sky when the countdown ended. It hasn’t been easy but you know, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be half as fun.
And boy do we have fun. Ridiculous amount of fun, in all the stupidest of ways. Like, when we poke at Aidan verbally, deliberately eliciting a reaction from him and driving him to say “NOOOOOOOO!”. Like, when we shamelessly eavesdrop on others and their colourful conversations. Like, when I coloured part of my lips with bright red lipstick and shouted “PADME!” and he totally got it. And he even laughed.
Do I not regret never dating a H&M model and thereby giving up all rights to ever laying a hand on a six-pack? Nah. Well, okay, sometimes. But, nah. I mean, Six-Pack may not love me the way my husband loves me. And Six-Pack may not be as hands-on a father as my husband. And Six-Pack may not treat me with the respect that my husband does.
So, yes, I’ll take him for life. Him and all his jelly belly goodness and all the love that he has in the world for me.
Sixteen years of my life spent with him, and I am looking forward to the next 60.
Happy anniversary, my love.
10 years ago, after ringing in the new year
Seven Mid-Autumn Festivals ago, we pledged our lives to each other, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.
(Not including for richer or for poorer because I completely missed that out when I was reciting my vows. Yeah, I totally fluffed it up, heh.)
We had envisioned a joyful celebration under the stars and the beautiful moon, as the waves crashed upon the shoreline. It was perfectly planned, the date was certainly not chosen at random. There was going to be singing and dancing, and feasting. We even picked out the spot where we would be wed, under this tree:
The morning of our wedding day was scorching hot. And then it started raining in the evening.
In the end, the decorations lovingly put up by my dear friends were drenched and washed out. The lanterns that we had placed on every single seat were left unused. We had to hastily shift all the tables and chairs indoors and it was, honestly, chaotic.
Instead of reciting our vows under that tree, we were saying “I do” under the bright lights of the function room.
I was pretty disappointed and heartbroken at that moment when Mr Thick said that we had no choice but to move indoors. But it turned out fine: we still got married, had heaps of fun and our friends got roaringly drunk. It was still one of the best nights of our lives.
Seven years ago, we became husband and wife on September 14. This year, on that date, we spent the afternoon together, just the two of us. It was a simple date, nothing fancy, no expensive meal, no lavish presents. But it was time well-spent. I was feeling tired from the long and exhausting semester, feeling deflated from just about everything, and so the day went by just like that. We ended up picking up the boys and spending the evening with my sister and her family.
Seven Mid-Autumn festivals later, on this day, we spent it with our boys and then with his family. Serendipity, I suppose. The night is quiet with both A and Z finally sleeping, and the mister has dozed off with them. It’s just me, with a slice of moon cake and my two cats keeping me company.
I’m home. And happy.
I don’t know what the future holds for us and how the next Mid-Autumn Festival will look like. I mean, in the past seven years, we have gone through a fair bit of pain, drama, trauma, blood and tears. There were times when I had no idea if we were ever going to remain us.
But here we are, tired but happy. With two littles and two feline babies in tow. He’s not perfect but neither am I, and together we balance out each other’s shortcomings. Like I have always said, we may not be perfect to each other but we are certainly perfect for each other.
Marriage is hard work, staying in love with someone is so much more difficult than what those ridiculous books and movies tell you. It’s a choice, it’s an active choice that we make every single day.
And so I choose him. As our wedding vows go, until death do us part.
(Or if he becomes poorer. In which case, HASTA LA VISTA BABY!)