i see you babe9:00 AM
After seven years of marriage and two kids there's one thing I can tell you for certain - IT IS HARD. Being an adult is hard, being someone's partner is hard and being someone's partner and a parent at the same time sometimes feels impossible.
People often remark on what a good team my husband and I make, that we seem to read the kids and each other so well. And that's true to a degree. Over the years we have gotten very good at the routine, at being very in-tune to each and every need of our two kids, at watching the clock without actually watching the clock at making Annie's mac & cheese with our eyes closed. He handles the nighttime wake-ups since he can fall back asleep easier and to give me a break during the week. Monday through Friday I do the nine to five with them. I wake up to the soothing cries of my starving housemates who if their veracity is to be believed must have not had a meal since 1993. After breakfast I clean the house that was spotless a mere eight hours ago and then begins our awkward dance of playing, fighting, snacks, crying, loving, reading, snacks, naps, snacks, making lunch, cleaning up lunch, naps, snacks and sometime before we start to circle back to playing and fighting Kevin gets home. His turn with the kids for a few hours while I catch up on errands or work and then it's dinner, cleanup, baths, bedtime and then the inevitable convincing a certain three year old that it is in fact time for them to go to sleep. On a good day we succeed on the fourth try.
And then we pretty much pass out, wake up and do it all over again. I think Fitzgerald once said it beautifully when he wrote "So we beat on, boats against the current." And on, and on and on. Sometimes amidst all the chaos we'll try to ask each other how our day went but as we attempt to stammer out a sentence for the fifth time and are yet again interrupted we often just give up and "beat on" in silence. And so days melt into weeks and weeks into months and especially if we haven't had a date night in a while we begin to sleepwalk through our days. We forget what a genuine adult conversation sounds like or what's on each other's minds. And it's rough.
For a while there I thought perhaps there was some grand yet attainable solution to this. Perhaps Mary Poppins would materialize and very gently mute the children when we want or sometimes need to talk. But alas this is real life and not a Disney movie and the truth is... well there really isn't a great solution. The kids are still little and require a lot. Life continues to whirl on in all it's hectic glory and we are spinning and spinning in our own little orbits. With so many varied responsibilities on each of our plates that we are managing in our heads on top of the physical work of raising kids and keeping a house it often feels like there is very little mental space left for "us." What we have found that seems to work for us is pretty simple. Number one - more date nights. We've kind of gotten to the point where a weekly date night is a non-negotiable. And number two is something I like to call "try a little tenderness," to quote one of my favorite songs. Once we realized that we can't live in some romantic rosy fantasy we came to the conclusion that we had to do something to show the other person at the least that "I see you." It's not much but honestly when you're running on next to nothing even a small something means a lot. Sometimes it's a hug after a four am paci run. Sometimes it's holding hands and just looking at each other while the kids yammer away. Sometimes it's saying "go take a break, I got this." It's "I got you your favorite magazine while I was out getting diapers" or a middle of the day text just to say "I miss you." Any small thing to show that "Yes these kids are sucking every drop of energy from me 24/7 but I have something left for you too."
And for now that works. Because it won't be like this forever and one day we won't be able to get a single darn word out of these kids and the idea of spending large amounts of their time with us will be repulsive to them. And then we will lay in bed and gaze into each other's eyes as some cherub lazily drops rose petals onto us. But for now we'll take laying in bed and gazing at Netflix until we wake up to a little peanut trying to wedge herself between us. But hey, at least we're holding hands!! It's the little things people!