My husband Randy and I are taking a trip downtown this weekend to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. The two of us will have long leisurely dinners, meditate on the modern art in the new wing of the Art Institute and stay up late for a Second City show. All made possible by the exclusion of two little people who have been our major project over the last decade. Don’t tell my husband, but I almost wish they were tagging along with us.
Having children has been pretty much the point of our marriage. Randy and I trucked along, fine and comfortable as two DINKS, for seven years. We owned a home together, traveled easily. I referred to him as my “partner” and it felt as satisfying as “husband.” We both knew we wanted children but I couldn’t imagine how being married would enhance Randy’s clearly wonderful fatherhood potential. Until one (ahem) night when Randy offered to (excuse me) start the ball rolling in the child-making process.
To my surprise, I froze.
I knew a family could be safe, complete and happy without the parents being married. (And by the way, a new study confirms this idea.) But when I faced the real possibility of Actually Becoming Pregnant, even with Randy’s full support, pregnancy seemed like a condition that would happen to ME, instead of US.
Fast forward through the two of us talking it out, a wildly romantic surprise of a proposal next to a waterfall in the Canadian Rockies (“Is that a yes?” “YES!”), a fun year of wedding planning and then the night, ten years ago yesterday, when we both said our vows of lifetime fidelity. And parenthood commenced. And I can’t remember what a full night’s sleep is anymore.
Although we’ve tossed around ideas of a Segway tour during our downtown weekend or an architectural boat tour, or hitting a beach or the pool at our hotel, the one thing I’m most looking forward to is sleeping late. I’m not sure I’ll be able to. I’ll probably wake early, like I did this morning, thinking about Nora’s lingering cough and whether Mia will be a good guest during her upcoming playdate.
Funny how your priorities change. I can remember vividly a moment during our honeymoon when I ran down a dark path through a patch of jungle to reunite with my new husband on the beach. I ran with bare feet through the soft sand and I felt as quick as a girl, even with the certainty that at the age of thirty-five, I had few girlish moments left. Nothing on my mind but the scent of frangipani flowers and the sea air, the sound of the waves and joining Randy who waited for me alone on the deserted beach. He greeted me with a warm kiss and a tender squeeze of my hand. A moment of simple emotions and pure sensing of the beautiful world in front of me.
Something has happened to the pleasure center of my brain since then. I can’t imagine being so single-minded. Perhaps when another person exits your body, she takes along a piece of your brain and a chunk of your heart, little souvenirs of her nine months inside. When Randy and I will be walking down Michigan Avenue tomorrow, I’ll be staring at the babies in strollers and toddlers being held by the hand. I will feel slightly anxious until we find just the right gifts to bring back to the girls. I’m bound to see something that makes me turn to Randy and say, “Oh, I wish the girls were here to see this.”
He will understand. His heart is divided too, even though it’s full. He’ll probably give me a kiss and squeeze my hand. And we’ll keep walking on down Michigan Avenue, searching for little souvenirs.
Photo by TheeErin, via Creative Commons
Category: Love and Marriage