After the kids go to bed, it’s our only real time together.
We pry our own sleepy eyes open and hold hands while watching TV. We make love when we’re exhausted, because it’s our one chance.
He kisses me as he goes out the door to work every morning. We text “I love you” during the day. Sometimes we text angry things we didn’t get to finish talking about before our coffees were finished; before it was time to shower and get dressed for our days spent largely apart.
I stay home with our kids, and this beloved role sometimes feels like it consumes me—I admit it. I love being a mom. I hate being a mom sometimes, too. It’s complex, just like my children—just like people—are, but it’s everything I dreamed it would be, and it’s a billion other things I didn’t expect or wouldn’t choose.
But my marriage is far from over, and our “us” isn’t resigned to past tense.
We do share a history—most couples do. Most couples have a story of their own special romance hidden inside of the 9 to 5, dinner-making, and school bus meeting; tucked inside of a peck of a kiss we wish lasted longer; buried beneath laundry piles.
I admit to wanting a future with more of “us” waiting before the sunset.
I want to know in my heart our kids will only be little for so long, so we’ll cherish and nurture this gentle space in their lifetimes, where we get to be parents, and partners, and a family. I do believe this, but I know also life can be unfair.
I don’t want to save our “us” for someday.
I don’t want to pause our romance for tomorrow.
I don’t want to wait for the weekends to hold a kiss.
We try to fit our “us” into our Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. We try to be the people who met, fell in love, and had children, before finding our love story placed haphazardly underneath a stack of our daughter’s school papers. We try to, but the reality is that life and love are different when you are sleep-deprived, loving parents to small kids.
Sitters can’t come often enough.
“Date night” can’t be frequent enough.
These two hours we have before finally crashing at night can never be exactly the same as “before,” when we lazily lounged in bed on Saturday mornings instead of helping tiny people use the toilet right away.
I don’t want it to be the same, but I do want more of him, and more of “us.”
I try to hold that kiss as he walks out the door in the morning, while I’ve already embraced a billion other to-dos. (I try to stay here with him, and kiss.)
I try to show my daughters who I am, outside of and intertwined with being their “Mommy.” I try to be a person, and a woman, and their daddy’s best friend, and a wife.
I try to laugh with him while we cook dinner, instead of frowning because he didn’t place a bowl where I think it should go in the dishwasher. I try to enjoy these moments we do have together, even when they don’t feel like enough.
I try to show him I love him. I try to show him I still need his love.
My marriage is far from over. Although, at times, we feel more like roommates than the pair who fell in love. But we aren’t roommates—and if we’re soulmates, it’s irrelevant—because what I really need him to know is that I choose him over and over again every day.
I choose him with each peck on the cheek as he rushes out the door.
I choose him with every second I stay awake instead of collapsing into bed.
I choose him, over and over again—but sometimes it needs to be said.
The people we love deserve to be told how much we appreciate them, as often and as freely as it is easy to complain or nitpick. The people we love deserve the best of us. The people we share our lives with every single day need to at least occasionally be reminded we’re here because we chose it.
Every day our kids grow, shape-shift, and age in ways that are both obvious and less defined. Every day my husband and I inch closer to each other, without a child stepping in between our legs as we hug. Every day our marriage is different, in ways that are positive as well as challenging.
Early this morning, I stood with our toddler in the kitchen.
Her big sister had left for school. Her daddy had left for work. We stood together, and she told me she was a “little big girl” because she’s a big girl, but she isn’t big enough yet to get her own breakfast.
Before we both know it, she’ll be less of a “little big girl” and more of a “big girl.”
Before we both know it, she’ll be less of a “girl.”
Before we both know it, she’ll have to reminded she was once my “little big girl.”
It’s not sad, necessarily, it’s just true. It’s beautiful, really. It’s metamorphosis. It’s transition. It’s growth. It’s change. It’s death. It’s life.
And my marriage isn’t over, and it hasn’t stalled. It’s been gifted with rebirth.
I have only to open my sleepy mother-eyes wide enough to witness it.