Right there, hunkered down under the picture window in my parents’ living room is where I first fell in love. It was the stuff of romance novels, truly. He was walking down the sidewalk with friends, tan from the summer. He wore a cutoff Gus Macker tee shirt and mesh shorts. He still had all of his hair. His looks were enough to make a soon-to-be seventh grade girl blush, but it was his words – his deep, thoughtful, Shakespearean-like words – that reached the innermost depths of my soul.
“Sweeeet,” he said, “a Chevy Nova.” My heart swooned. Was it the way he said it, or that he knew the make of the classic car sitting in our driveway? I’m not sure. But from that moment on I was in love with my husband.
That year my husband had his friend ask my friend if I wanted to go out. I told my friend to tell my husband’s friend that I said yes, of course. We spent a beautiful five months together. We traded locker combinations. We held hands at basketball games. We slow-danced to My Heart Will Go On.
One night in the middle of a touchdown at a varsity football game he leaned over and gave me my first kiss. The French kind. I still remember feeling weak in the knees. His wet tongue felt foreign in my mouth, yet it was all I ever wanted. I was certain I’d never love anyone or anything more than I loved him. And for many years I was right. But thirteen years later this crazy thing happened. I became a mother.
When I first became a mother I swore it opened a new chamber of my heart I never knew existed. It was like that part of my heart – the mother part – was lying dormant for 26 years. With all of this new love I was able to share my heart with my daughter and husband an even 50/50.
A month ago I gave birth to our second child – a boy. I fell madly in love with him within hours of seeing his perfect face. Something was different, though. I didn’t feel a surge of new love as I did when I first held my daughter two years ago. At the same time, I didn’t love my son any more or any less than my daughter. I was left wondering, where was all my love for him coming from?
I quickly came to the realization that my kids were receiving 100% of my love. That meant that the love I once poured over my husband was abruptly taken away. Gone. Sucked into an oblivion of dirty diapers, breast milk, and swaddles. Monopolized by Elmer’s Glue, Dora, and Knuffle Bunny.
So here I am, six weeks postpartum, and I’ve got no love for my husband. There is simply not enough to go around. Oh, you want to French kiss during a touchdown? Ugggghhh fine. But I’m keeping my eyes open. And no touching!!
Why don’t I feel like kissing you? Well, let’s see. Today our daughter wrote on herself with my $26 tube of lipstick while I watched helplessly from the toilet. On that note, I haven’t taken a crap without an audience in five weeks.
What is that smell? That, my dear, is a special concoction of bodily fluids. It is one part sour breast milk and one part baby puke. I can’t tell you the secret ingredient, but I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with maxi pads. Okay, it is maxi pads. Suck on that.
Why didn’t I take a shower? Ha. Haha. Hahaha. Hahahahaha. I’m sorry. Let me compose myself. I would have loved to take a shower, my love, except sometimes having your shower narrated for you by a two year old is just awkward. “Mama have boobies? Chloe have boobies, too? Mama wash butt? Chloe wash butt, too?” And hey, since she is already watching, why not just jump in with her clothes on. Because I didn’t spend 15 minutes coaxing her into them in the first place.
Sorry. Clearly, the reason I don’t feel much like kissing my husband has something to do with my hormones.
But I do realize something. Expressing love for your spouse in front of your children is important. Listen. There are a few things I remember very specifically about my parents from my childhood. I remember that every single day after work my Dad would come home, walk over to my Mom, plant a big kiss on her mouth, and say “hi.” Later that night when we settled down to watch television he would always, every night, be the big spoon while they cuddled on the couch. Sweeping acts of romance? No. But those small actions showed my Mom he loved her. Equally important, it showed me and my brother he loved her.
Expressing love for your spouse not in front of your children is important, too. Just know that sooner or later your kids are going to start to wonder why every now and then your bedroom door is locked. I know I did. What were they doing in there, anyway? Don’t you only lock your door when you are doing something naughty? Like blasting your brother’s fan on high and pouring nail polish into it with the full intent of blaming it on him later? My Mom wouldn’t even buy me a Limited brand scrunchie, because she could make one herself. I’ll tell you one thing. Bitch wasn’t in there wasting nail polish.
This Lenten season, instead of giving something up, I’m going to make an effort to give something out. I’m going to return to my husband his rightful percentage of my heart. I’ll start him off at 5% by paying him a genuine compliment each day. Move him up to 10% by drinking a glass of red wine with him each evening. Upgrade him to 15% by having a conversation wherein we actually listen to one another. Throw him another 5% by dancing with him in the kitchen while we make dinner. And by the end of those 40 days I plan to reinstate his full share by giving him a kiss each night. Maybe even the French kind, too… on nights when I’m certain the door is locked.
Any other moms out there stretching themselves too thin? How do you make time to love your kids, yourself, and your husband, too?