Today was Little Dude's second birthday. We had a nice little family party with balloons, presents, veggie burgers, and a very cool bus-shaped birthday cake that FoxyJ made.
One year ago we celebrated LD's first birthday with yummy food and cupcakes and a few friends. Besides the additional company, the big difference last year was that, even though I helped out with the barbecue, I was technically a guest. Foxy and I had been separated for a couple months at that point, with plans to divorce. For LD's birthday, though, we played the role of happy family, not to fool our friends who were very aware of our current situation, but because the role came rather naturally to us, all things considered.
I have a very distinct memory of sitting on the floor during the party, watching the kids play while Foxy chatted with the adults. I looked around and thought, "This is my home. This is where I'm happy." As far as I can recall, that was the first time since moving out that I really questioned whether being divorced is what I really wanted. I had questioned to the point of obsession whether it was the right decision, but until then I was fairly convinced that it was what I wanted, speaking strictly of selfish motivations.
Wary of making a rash decision I'd regret later, I didn't act right away on that thought. I let it sit for a few weeks and in the meantime paid close attention to how I felt when I was with FoxyJ--we had an arrangement during the separation where we were having family dinners together at least twice a week, and then there were the drop-off and pick-up times on the weekend as well. I was far from miserable in my newfound bachelorhood, enjoying above all the time alone it gave me, but I was surprised to find that I felt even happier when I was with Foxy and the kids. I found that, all questions of morality and religion and responsibility aside, I actually liked the life I'd had and chosen to leave behind.
The next question to answer was whether Foxy was happier with me or without me, and after a bit of trial time she decided she could live without me just fine, but if she had a choice she'd rather not. It's nice when things work out that way.
It's strange now to think about how different things were a year ago. Objectively I recognize that less than a year after reuniting it's premature to make any sweeping conclusions about the longterm success of our marriage, but speaking subjectively and in the moment it's hard to imagine anything other than the us that exists now, to imagine that it was ever in question or that it ever could be. I'm a complete person alone but I'm completer with Foxy and the two of us together with our two children feels to me like a self-evident truth that stands at the center of the universe.
Perhaps this is why I've talked about our marriage here quite a bit less in the last year than I did before that. In the past my talking publicly about our reasons for getting and staying married has led some people to believe that I was opening the topic for public debate. How can I debate truths that are self-evident to me? Thankfully, when it comes to matters that affect only our family, I don't have to. So long as the same truths are self-evident to me and Foxy, we're good.
At any rate, I'm happy to have spent today with my son, my daughter, and with a woman who makes creative cakes, who folds origami boat invitations for our daughter's upcoming going-away party, who writes thoughtful posts on the seemingly miraculous birth of our son and how that fits into a world where similar miracles are denied to others, who answers just about every random trivia question I throw at her (and knows what she's talking about 95% of the time), who gets annoyed with people who ask how I feel about being a "Mr. Mom" but is empathetic enough to understand the cultural norms behind such sexist terminology and judge not the people but the norms, who cooks mostly vegetarian because the meat industry is destroying the environment, who regularly exposes me to cool foreign and classic films that I might never have heard of if not for her, who has now qualified twice to be in Jeopardy!'s contestant pool, and most of all who continues to love me despite my personal shortcomings, my eccentric obsessions and time-consuming hobbies, my inability to express emotions in a healthy way, and my passive-aggressive tendencies. I look forward to celebrating LD's twelfth and eighteenth and forty-ninth birthdays by her side.