My wife and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary last week and it offered an interesting introspection into our lives and the first five years of marriage. My wife and I tend to land on the more moderate side of celebrations; thus, I received a surprise bag full of beef jerky and cheese snacks while my wife came home to a gorgeous but terribly picked bouquet of flowers (that would quickly die within 24 hours—I’m not good at flowers). We didn’t want the celebration to stop at mere gifts, of course, so we decided to get a little crazy on a Friday night and….go grocery shopping with our two girls. It was quite the party, as we wasted the night away arguing over the quality of knockoff brand diapers and uniting in a battle royale against a snack-hoarding toddler. While the entirety of our relationship (10 years) has absolutely flown by, it’s been the last three that have seemingly evaporated at the speed of sound. And three years just coincidentally happens to be the age of our oldest daughter. In a blink we have gone from fun-loving, freewheeling, and adventurous young couple to an old, tired duo chasing naked little munchkins around the house—adventure for us, at this point, is stretching to stay awake for an entire movie after we stun the maniacs with tranquilizer darts each night (our loving expression for putting the kids to bed).
Five years into marriage, and I can definitively share that the magic is not lost, the affection has not waned, and all the feelz from our Wedding Day remain. But! That doesn’t necessarily translate into much one-on-one time when we have two young children. If you’re looking for an article on How to Keep the Romance after having children…this isn’t it (though I will write that one eventually). This is more of an exploration of the feelings associated with marriage and parenthood. Namely, that we’re still in that zone that we love parenting. Let me explain…
My wife and I both work full-time and thus utilize daycare during the day for our girls. Naturally, this carries several advantages and disadvantages. I don’t know if this is a pro or a con, but using daycare means we obsess over the time we do have our girls at home. We are incredibly protective of our weeknight and weekend time with the girls. This results in lots of quality time and several memorable family moments, but it also means that we tend to shy away from ever sacrificing time with our girls for time with only us. Eliza, our oldest, is nearing three years of age and we have probably used a sitter or family to sneak in a night out less than five times. No matter how much I sarcastically complain about my children on social media, it turns out I actually kind of like them. And liking them translates into spending time with them, even if our quality time often involves revolting diapers and emergency baths. As it turns out, my wife likes these little critters too, so she’s also on board spending as much time as possible with them.
Since we are so hesitant to give up any time with our girls, this translates to things like last Friday: celebrating our wedding anniversary digging through her purse for a 10 cent coupon we never found while the baby chews on the grocery cart (gross) and the toddler grabs candy off the checkout shelves. And yet, we are actually extremely content with this life. I know we need to get better at setting aside husband-wife time and we will, but I also know that our relationship has developed ten-fold watching each other parent. Obviously I liked my wife enough that I asked her to marry me several years ago, but I have gained a much more intense appreciation and affection for her watching how she mothers my oft-squirrelly and challenging little girls. The marital sparks aren’t fading, but I will admit (and think she might too) that they are changing—and for the better. Walking the parenting journey alongside my wife is the best quality time I can possibly think to spend.
Do we feel old and a little guilty ‘celebrating’ by running errands? Sure. BUT we did manage to watch an ENTIRE movie after the girls went to bed without either of us falling asleep. The old trendy expression “Netflix and Chill” had a suggestive euphemism attached; once you have kids “Netflix and Pass-the-Heck-Out” seems to be more appropriate but I digress. We made it through the movie, she smelled her flowers, I ate my meat snack, and that’s how we managed to sneak in a celebration after our girls went to bed. We may need to do a better job of protecting our alone time in the future, but for now we’re still lost in the throes of contentment as we continue our wild ride of parenting.