At a family holiday party last year, my husband and I leaned over and gave each other a quick kiss on the lips because it was Christmas, we were at our last party, and we had successfully survived another holiday season full of six different places to be in three days.
Almost immediately, a family member looked over at us and said, “Aww! You guys are so cute! I never see you two kiss!”
Seriously? I thought. Well, jeez.
I laughed it off, but inwardly my mind was spinning like the irrational person I sometimes — okay, almost always — am. We don’t kiss? How did this happen? Is my marriage okay? Does he love me? When was the last time we kissed? OMG I don’t remember. Do we need therapy? How the hell did I remember to pack baby wipes everywhere we went this week, but forgot to kiss my husband?!
But after thinking about it for a few days — and gradually calming myself down — I realized a few things. One, we are not overly affectionate people in public. And two, I’m actually okay with that.
These last few years can be neatly summarized by one word: survival. Going out in public as a family of five is no easy task, and once we actually manage to all get out the door, my mind is pretty much always focused keeping kids busy, happy, and fed — not to mention dodging any potential meltdowns. Noticing my husband in all of this isn’t exactly top of mind (unless of course he disappears for more than five minutes — in which case, I notice that every time).
When we leave parties or family gatherings, more often than not our conversation resembles that of two people who just went to war and are exchanging battle stories.
“I thought we were in the clear and then the bomb went off in the diaper and the butt rash was aggravated and the screaming started. We never recovered after that.”
My kids were never what you’d call “pass around babies,” who smiled sweetly into family members’ eyes and took long naps in their arms. Instead, it was as though my kids were pulled aside at birth and taught how to scream at the sight of anyone even slightly unfamiliar.
As babies, they each wailed at the top of their lungs, as if it was their sole mission in life. As such, the majority of outings during that time involved us constantly holding them while smiling and trying to keep up with adult conversation — but failing miserably.
As toddlers, they clung to the backs of our legs and screamed if one of us went to use the bathroom. As “big kids,” they’ve begun to spread their wings a little bit more, but we’ve still got a long way to go before we’ll be finding random babysitters on Craigslist and sneaking out on a Friday night.
Kidding. (Sort of.)
When I first met my husband 14 years ago, we were nauseating. In between throws at the beer pong table and Nextel two-way conversations, we were that couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other. And then came marriage. And then came six whirlwind years and three babies, and some days, the only thing we were trying to keep our hands off of was each other’s throats.
And before you get all, “Wow — my husband and I have kids, but we still make each other a priority and never lost that desire to make out in the grocery store!” let me stop you right there.
But, in all honesty, we’re good. Really good.
Loving him after all these years comes as naturally to me as breathing; he’s not a choice I make every day, he’s a vital part of who I am. Seeing him become a dad — and an amazing one at that — is the most sexy thing in the world. He’s not only my husband, but my partner and my teammate who’s been there with me, right by my side, helping in every way through these crazy, exhausting, stressful, amazing, laughter- and love-filled years.
There is no drama, no second guessing, no need to proclaim our feelings to each other every second of every day, because we fit together in the most basic, simple way that two people who’ve created a life together and been together over a decade do. Supporting each other through the hard times has only brought us closer together because we did it, we survived it together, even when we chose much-needed sleep over each other.
And believe me when I say that, as we close this chapter of raising babies and transition into the next one, I’m anxiously anticipating plenty of time for PDA — and hopefully, if were lucky, maybe even a beer pong table or two.
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