I was in the bathroom this morning when Dan came in and started hollering.
“You need to do something about your chocolate. Annabelle found it and her skin’s going to be broken out,” he shouted as I rinsed conditioner out of my hair.
Our kids are only allowed to have a bite of milk chocolate every once in a while because the youngest, Annabelle, suffers from terrible eczema and dairy products make it worse. We buy them chocolate bars made from soy or rice milk that cost about $4 each and therefore have to be rationed carefully.
Normally, I don’t keep milk chocolate in the house, but the other day I had a craving, so I went to the drugstore and bought a bag of miniature chocolate bars which I then hid in a ceramic container on the top shelf of our highest cabinet.
I really don’t know how Annabelle, who is 5, knew that I had milk chocolate in the house, but I suppose it should not have come as a surprise since anytime I want to do something like, say, take a shower, one of the kids finds a way to stop me, either by needing food, informing me that they are bored or needing me to flush something indescribable down the toilet.
Anyway, I had been absent approximately four minutes when Annabelle apparently climbed up on the counter, went through the cabinets, and found the chocolate.
Now you think this is going to be a story about parenting. Actually, it’s about my 12th wedding anniversary, which is Oct. 5. This is what it is like when you have been married for 12 years and you have two kids, ages 5 and 8.
I said to Dan, “I am going to start locking my chocolate in your deer room.”
There is a room in our home to which only Dan has a key. In it, he keeps all of his favorite hardback books, a mounted deer-head (I think it’s a six-point or something like that. He would love to tell you all about it …) and a bunch of boring documents like social security cards that no one would want except for him.
“You are not keeping your chocolate in the deer room!” Dan replied.
“Then I am getting a safe,” I said, “a little safe for my chocolate!”
This is what it is like to be a married 36-year-old with two little kids. You find yourself standing in the shower screaming at your husband about how you are going to buy a safe so that you can have chocolate and not get in trouble for it.
I was going to try to write this heartfelt anniversary column incorporating Robert Frost’s lovely poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I was going to tell you how I love fall, which is why I married in the fall, and how anniversaries have this bittersweet feeling, kind of like autumn does. Celebrating anniversaries is a way of marking time. You watch the leaves turn and fall off the trees. I’m getting older, you think. I don’t look like I did 12 years ago, and I don’t feel like it either.
When you are young you have all this angst about things you think are never going to happen. I’ll never get a boyfriend, I’ll never get married, I’ll never have a baby, I’ll never get the job I want …
Did I mention I just got the job I wanted, finally?
If you knew all along how things would end, maybe it would be easier to enjoy the journey. That’s the optimist in me talking and she doesn’t speak up often.
But forget all that mushy stuff. This morning I told Dan, “Look, don’t even worry about buying me a card this year. We are going out tonight and you can wear jeans. I didn’t make us fancy reservations. Now please go to McDonald’s and get us some food because there is not a loaf of bread in this house, nor a box of pop tarts.”
This is the autumn of our 12th year of marriage. And that is about as much as I can sugarcoat it.