Romantic relationships are a lot like the clothes in my closet. Stick with me here, I promise it will come together.
When you’re dating, the relationship is like a sexy pair of leather pants: hot, steamy, and a little sweaty. After you’ve been together for a while, the relationship is like a pair of skinny jeans: They feel good most of the time, but you’re a little curious about whether or not they’ll still fit after you put them in the dryer.
Then there’s marriage — ahhh, marriage. Marriage before kids is that trendy T-shirt made from free-trade cotton with an indie rock band logo on it, hugging your curves in all the right ways. It doesn’t just look good on you, it feels good too.
And then there is marriage with kids. Unlike the hipster T-shirt, this is a pair of flannel pajama pants that you put on every single night. They are stained and frayed, and probably a little smelly because you don’t wash them as often as you should, but they have an elastic waist and cute dancing reindeer, and well, they might not look good but they are the absolute favorite article of clothing that you own. They are soft and settle on your hips just right when you pull them on. They are your butt-kicking pants and lounge pants and everything-feels-better-when-you’re-wearing-them pants.
There is marriage. And then there is marriage with kids — reindeer pajama pants with tiny holes in the knees because they are your favorite.
Marriage with kids is spending weeks coordinating a date night, only to spend the evening eating takeout while watching reruns of Parks and Recreation because the babysitter canceled or one of the kids got sick.
Marriage with kids is post-it notes left on the nightstand that say, “I took the kids for donuts so you could sleep in.”
Marriage with kids is scheduled sex and quickies in the bathroom hoping not to get cockblocked by a 5-year-old.
Marriage with kids is reminding him it’s time to shave his back and telling her about that long white chin hair that’s starting to curl.
Marriage with kids is holding hands while watching your daughter’s basketball game and stifling giggles at your son’s school holiday concert.
Marriage with kids is arguments about 529 plans, where to spend the holidays, and how to do new math.
Marriage with kids is spelling out entire conversations.
Marriage with kids is forgiveness — lots and lots of forgiveness — because you’re too damn tired to fight about it anymore and you know you’re on the same team even when you’re spelling swear words at each other in the midst of a heated debate about 529 plans.
Marriage with kids is lots of unfinished sentences because you keep getting interrupted with “Daddy, guess what?!” or “Mommy, look at me!” until you forget what you were going to say in the first place.
Marriage with kids is using sleep as currency.
Marriage with kids is 42 emails to figure out the details of your son’s birthday party, and at least 87 texts about chocolate, wine, and toilet paper.
Marriage with kids is falling asleep on the couch while watching Saturday Night Live and waking up tucked under your favorite fleece blanket.
Marriage with kids is lots of inside jokes — mostly about the silly things your kids say and the ridiculous things other parents do.
Marriage with kids is vowing not to talk about kids on date night, but saying “the hell with it” after the first cocktail.
Marriage with kids is reminiscing about the past together and planning for a future together while wiping toddler butts and cleaning crayon off the walls.
Marriage with kids is less pretty and a little stained, softer, and frayed around the edges — because kids are messy, parenting is hard, and reindeer pajama pants make everything so much better.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy