Unsettled by the news, I meandered outside to Mum. I joined her underneath the clothesline and began handing her clothes to peg. We always had the most memorable discussions in mundane places.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I said, ‘Their relationship seemed so solid…’
Mum’s tone was philosophical, ‘Long term relationships are never a certainty – sometimes all the effort cannot save it, sometimes the effort was never applied, sometimes people come to want different things.’
I was twenty-two years old and Mum had nearly thirty years of marriage behind her – the last thing I wanted to hear about was the uncertainty of long-term relationships. ‘Well, you’ve been married for years…’
‘Doesn’t mean it’s been easy, all relationships require work to be sustained. At the end of the day, it all comes back down to socks and underpants.’
Socks and underpants – Mum’s relationship metaphor. We laughed. She went on to explain ‘if you can’t handle the ordinary, everyday life-stuff, your relationship will struggle before you even hit the real challenges life throws at you. Life is the ordinary, everyday stuff.’
I grinned, ‘I still don’t really like hanging out washing.’
‘I don’t mind it – I’ve always found it meditative.’
I handed her a sock and she pegged it at the toe. Always, at the toe.
At the end of last year, my husband and I celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. Ten years. Holy guacamole, how did that happen? It simultaneously feels like forever and yesterday.
I’ve been very fortunate, I met the person I wanted to marry at twenty. My strengths are his weaknesses and vice versa. We have the same priorities, use the same moral compass and – most importantly – we make each other laugh. I also married into a family devoid of corrosive emotions like jealousy, who’ve wholly accepted me and my own family. We’ve integrated ourselves into each other’s lives and you realise stuff you thought was normal, was less so. Common words and sayings in your own family are surreal and unfamiliar in the other but then those idiosyncrasies become blended and together you create new silliness, new words, new moments.
I thought of all this when I hung out the washing the other day with my husband. I handed him a sock and he pegged it at the ankle. Always, at the ankle.
[Aside: This time last year, I wrote this Valentine’s Day blog post. Although one of my very early posts, it is still one of my favourites. It too was indirectly inspired by a conversation I once had with my mum. WordPress statistics told me someone recently stumbled upon that particular post using the search term ‘I wonder who will buy me a Valentine gift’. At first I laughed but then I wondered if they read my post disappointed. While the post is about love, it is also a bit anti-Valentine’s Day. I want to reiterate, love is amazing and it is found in the most unlikely places. Look for it, and you shall find it. If you still don’t believe me, here is also a link to Rarasaur who posted this as I wrote my own post. She’s awesome at finding love and sparkles everywhere.]