What’s In a Name?

I get a LOT of odd looks when I tell people that one of our family businesses is named Hammered and Chained Jewelry. Joe and I were aware when we chose the name that it was tongue-in-cheek, that the name might appeal to a totally different crowd than we intend to appeal to. So, why did we choose it? And what were we thinking?

Put simply, the words ‘hammered’ and ‘chained’ describe our jewelry making techniques. Joe creates chainmaille jewelry, and I enjoy metalsmithing with my torch and growing supply of jewelry hammers.

To understand the deeper level of our name is a bit more of a stretch. Joe and I have been in love since I was in ninth grade, back in 1993. I don’t care what anyone else says, I loved the 90’s. We did all of the things that kids of the 90’s did in the Great Northwest; we wore flannels & Birkenstocks; we listened to Nirvana, STP, & Pearl Jam; we smoked a LOT of pot & drank even more Denny’s coffee; and through the years of high school we put each other through overly dramatic angst-ridden hell, as only teenagers can. Through all of it, though, we were the couple that our friends talked about when they talked about real love, the stuff that lasts. My parents, on the other hand, talked about codependency and scary statistics about short-lived high school relationships.

In an effort to broaden our horizons as all teenagers are told they should, we decided to pursue separate destinies after I graduated in 1997 but stayed best friends. We were like a rubber band trying to escape from itself; we always ended up back with each other, even when we tried to be with other people.

In my search to find a world outside of Joe, I ended up with a boy that had been a good friend for a long time. I was lost and didn’t know what I was doing. I found myself pregnant from that relationship in 1998. When I went to tell Joe that I was pregnant and moving back to my parent’s house to start college, he informed me that he was seeing another girl as well. I moved to Arkansas, utterly lost, alone, scared, and pregnant.

A week after I moved, Joe called to tell me that the girl he was seeing was pregnant as well. Neither of us intended to stay with our bio-baby-‘rents. We stayed in touch, across hundreds of miles and quickly changing lives. Every time we talked we would make sure the other one knew that they were loved.

Fast forward through single attachment motherhood in Arkansas, college, and various pathetic attempts at trying to make my life work with other men. I came back up to visit friends for the summer of 2001 and ended up staying at Joe’s apartment with my son, Tynan, who was 2 at the time. It was perfect; like finding the missing puzzle piece under your couch that you’ve been trying to find to complete a puzzle you’ve been working on for ages. I couldn’t focus on anything when I went back to Arkansas; the other end of my soul was calling me back.

I moved back up to Washington within three months of visiting, and Joe and I have been married ever since. His son (my stepson), Riley, is two and a half weeks younger than Tynan. They’ve been brothers since they were two. Then came Damon, and years later, Ben.

Most people aren’t comfortable with the idea of a knowingly codependent relationship. I understand the logical side of that argument, but I also understand that I’m not myself without my husband by my side, pretty much all of the time. Despite the years of trying to live different lives, we belong together. We’ve endured pain from each other and others’ perceptions throughout the years. Judgement and old drama have tried to hammer us down, but we remain chained together (in a good way). Whatever we do, we do together, and that’s the way we choose to stay.

Back In the Day, ca. 1994

Back In the Day, ca. 1994

Still In Love, 2013

Still In Love, 2013

Vibrant Colors and Sepia Tones

My husband, Joe, and I are dropping our boys off tonight for 24 hours of no-kid time. This is the second time in two months, but also only the second time in the last 5 years. Last time we sat in content elation, peaceful with the stillness of the world. Driving around after our dinner was so odd– no chatting, screaming, or constant “mommy, mom, mommy, mommy!” The world looks different without kids in tow; I noticed more of our surroundings than I had in ages without the intense constancy of putting out fires, answering questions, and singing songs.

What do people without children do? Calm peace is amazing, but an ongoing life of that would seem to me to be like a sensory deprivation chamber. How long can you sit and hear your own thoughts, be concerned only with your spouse and yourself? When the kids are screaming, I find my mind wandering to that contently quiet place without children. But when I look over and they’re playing legos or making chainmaille while making up songs with each other, the contently quiet place seems so blank.

I’ll say it again: motherhood drives me insane while maintaining my sanity. So tonight, Joe and I will be calmly wrapped up in each other; conversation, a beer, a movie that’s not made for kids. Our world will take on the sepia tones of adulthood. And tomorrow we’ll pick them up from the sitter, hug them, and the intense vibrant colors of our life will flood back in.