It’s our 20th wedding anniversary. I wonder will he remember

Seven children later, we have time to celebrate our anniversary – if he doesn’t forget

Let the celebrations begin – presuming of course he remembers. Photograph: iStock

Let the celebrations begin – presuming of course he remembers. Photograph: iStock

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Some 25 years ago, a working-class Dublin girl met a middle-class Carlow boy across the crowded tables of the UCD student bar. He thought her accent was funny. She, a diehard Liverpool supporter, thought the fact he was an Everton fan was hilarious, and they spent the evening trying to understand each other – including their team choices.

Like all good romance stories, they started out as best friends, and sometimes he even went shopping with her, albeit reluctantly. And though the warning shots had been fired when she mentioned, as they passed Mothercare in The Square in Tallaght, that she’d love a large family in the future, even specifying the number seven, he didn’t run for the hills.

We settled into a pattern like that of my own parents, where the day passed with barely an acknowledgment

And so it came to pass that five years later they were married, meaning, somehow, our 20th wedding anniversary occurs this week; 20 years – it seems quite the milestone and we may even celebrate this one.

He forgot our first, which, in spite of mentioning it in a national newspaper, I can assure you is not something I’m still bitter about – that much. Our firstborn had arrived a month earlier and we were wide-eyed and delirious with a lack of sleep and shock. Our world had been turned on its head. Priorities had shifted and we didn’t know what day of the week it was, never mind the date. Well, he didn’t anyway (honestly, I’m not bitter).

Busyness

And so as it began, it continued. As the years passed and our family grew, opportunities to mark the occasion with a night out became rarer, as babysitters ran screaming at the prospect. A weekend away seemed as likely as winning the Lotto. Without quite meaning to, we became a couple who never bothered with anniversaries. We settled into a pattern like that of my own parents, where the day passed with barely an acknowledgment, justified by the busyness of life and the seeming insignificance of the day in the grand scheme of things.

My parents-in-law view anniversaries quite differently, always celebrating their own and ensuring they send a card to us on ours. I have to admit I’ve been tempted in recent years to hide it from himself, ahead of the big day, to see if he would forget again without the prompting that its timely arrival provides.

So much has changed since our carefree student days. We’ve grown up together, had seven babies together, changed nappies together, grieved four miscarriages together, navigated the ups and downs of parenthood together, and resented every extra millisecond of sleep that the other person managed to get.

In the midst of all the busyness of the last two decades, we weren’t the best at always making time for each other

We’ve brought our respective expectations from life and parenthood to the table, because it’s impossible not to be moulded by your own experiences of life. And when those experiences have sometimes been vastly different, they’ve required a degree of compromise when it came to parenting our own children. While I blame all vices on their father, he attributes all their wonderful qualities to me. It’s nowhere near a true reflection of the reality, but it’s what he does.

Trail of destruction

“The days are long, but the years are short” has to be one of the most annoying things ever said to me in the early days of parenthood, as I struggled with sleep deprivation and the incessant demands of new motherhood. But having reached the stage where one of my children is now a young adult, I can truly appreciate how quickly time passes. Watching my smallies run around leaving a trail of destruction, chaos and yoghurt cartons in their wake, I can appreciate how lucky I am to still have several years of child rearing ahead of me. I’m in no hurry for them to be over.

In the midst of all the busyness of the last two decades, we weren’t the best at always making time for each other. There was always so much to do and so many places to be. It’s hard when you’re a tag team without back up. Things are always changing but we’ve been each other’s constant.

I’m very conscious of how much “monkey see, monkey do” applies to rearing the kids. And I’ve learned the hard way that “monkey hear, monkey repeat” also applies, particularly when you’ve said something you shouldn’t. So I’m making a conscious effort this year, because one day they’ll grow up. I’ll still love them as much as ever. I’ll still want to protect them as much as ever. And I’ll still want them to know they matter as much as ever, even when they’ve children of their own.

Let the celebrations begin – presuming of course that he remembers.

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