Romance in a post-kid world

If you’ve been married for a while, have kids, and find most days spent biding your time between reluctantly waking up and finally putting your kids to sleep, then you can appreciate that romantic gestures don’t come up as often as we’d all like. But today I got one. A romantic gesture in a post-kid world.

“Go take a nice relaxing shower. We’re going to cook you dinner. Here’s a glass of wine.”

Romance after kids What romance looks like after kids

With great risk, I took the time to snap these photos before grabbing the wine and running. I did take a relaxing shower. And I sipped wine as I indulged in my amazing smelling, expensive body lotion that comes in a twist top jar that’s all too time consuming to use on a daily basis. I sipped wine as I applied an extra moisturizing, skin smoothing, age defying facial mask and opted for the good yoga pants. Afterall, my husband deserved it.

With swagger I returned downstairs expecting sighs of contentment as my husband and children beheld my new, clean, relaxed, age-defied demeanor.

Instead, I found my kids running around a living room obstacle course made from the furniture and every couch cushion, which were strewn everywhere on the floor, some in stacks of up to five for daredevil dives and inevitable rug burn. I found Woody Woodpecker on in the background at a volume to be heard over the daredevil leaping. And I found my husband excited to pass off the half-cooked meal to me. (In his defense, he wanted to go outside to clear the driveway of the considerable snow that’s kept us sequestered all day.) So, I found myself charged with taking over dinner- an involved recipe he selected because he wanted to cook- right at the point that involved puff pastry and careful direction reading.

Soon jasmine lotion scent was replaced with my usual parfum of onions and dish sponge. But at least I didn’t get my good yoga pants dirty.

Like my good friend Bethany, from Bad Parenting Moments fame, says, “Romance isn’t dead, just mortally wounded.”

The Truth about the Seeds

“Those seeds aren’t magic, you know.”

Every time Luke says this I panic and sternly hush him. Luckily, he’s king of the non sequitur so Sally usually doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But I know. At any mention of magic, Luke says something about knowing The Truth about the Seeds. He’s threatening to ruin an Easter tradition.

Let me explain: years ago on Easter eve I gave my then-toddler Luke a small handful of magic seeds, a.k.a. Nerds, to scatter on the lawn before bed. In the morning, lo and behold, lollipops sprouted from the grass where the seeds had been sewn! The excitement and wonder in his little face at the sight of this sugary crop was pure magic. Pure magic is like parental crack. We must do this again and again and again and again. Thus traditions are born.

From the start Luke was suspicious. He was pretty almost positive that the seeds were candy, but his curiosity about the magic and the weirdness of me instructing him to throw candy on the grass kept him from simply gobbling them up. Each year his suspicion has grown, and the relationship between his wonder and his desire for Nerds is starting to tip towards gobbling.

I don’t know if all kids are like this, but my kids talk about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all year round as if they’re relatives we see occasionally, like cousins. Awesome magical cousins. As such, over the years Luke has periodically and randomly tested out this theory on me. “Those seeds are candy right? I know they’re candy. They’re candy. Right?” Now that Sally is bigger, Luke seems to have it all figured out and all he wants to do is tell her.

The problem is that I see The Truth about the Seeds as the first step towards a complete loss of magic. It’s one short step to There’s no Bunny Hiding Eggs and then just a wee leap to Ew, You’re Collecting my Teeth, There’s no Santa, and, finally, Can I Borrow the Car?

I’m not ready for them to drive, so I quickly shush and change the subject every time Luke brings up The Truth about the Seeds. But it was just a matter of time. Recently, he was too quick to get the whole thing out. I cringed as I readied myself for a little bit of my daughter’s innocence to wither away forever.

“Those aren’t really magic seeds, Sally. We just sprinkle them on the ground, but they don’t magically grow lollipops.”

“Yes they do!”

“No they don’t. The seeds aren’t magic. They’re just candy. After we go to sleep…”

Here it comes.

“After we go to sleep, the Easter Bunny comes.”

Who the what now?

“He digs holes where we dropped the seeds and he plants the lollipops. So the seeds aren’t magic. Mom and Dad are just tricking us.”

I have never loved him more.

“Oh. That’s what you think happens?” I ask. “No. that’s what I know happens.” Nothing gets by this one.


Letting Go

Let go, let them fly Parenthood is an endless exercise in letting go. It’s incremental, but steadfast and relentless. The first thing you must let go of is every preconceived notion you ever had. Second to go is your life as you ever knew it. And, finally, comes the remainder of your days when you must let go, little by little, of your very babies, who you’ll want to hold onto more than anything.

There is no better parent in the world than an adult who has no children. He/she knows everything, all of which learned by observing the countless errors of every parent in his/her path. Having a baby of one’s own is to go from knowing everything to slowly realizing you know nothing. This does not happen all at once. Not at all.

I’m not pregnant yet? You mean there’s more to it than just doing it? Small thing. Lesson learned. I now know everything.

Finally, we’re pregnant! There is really no excuse for gaining 60 pounds just to birth a 7 pound baby. 15 pounds is completely attainable with just a little bit of discipline. I’ll just eat right and exercise. Just 300 extra calories for baby.

What sick motherfucker called this morning sickness when it’s actually every-time-I-move-sickness? Ugh. Well, at least now I know everything. Hmm, I seem to barf at the thought of any food other than bagels. OK, so I’ll eat a couple of bagels for the first couple of weeks, and then when my all-freaking-day sickness has passed I’ll return to a healthy diet. Now, back to those parenting books!

Holy crap Cinnamon Toast Crunch is like heaven on Earth! I’ll totally have that spinach salad for dinner.

I actually cannot lift my arms or keep my eyes open. Must have food that requires no waiting or working. Like this sleeve of Girl Scout cookies. Then the gym!

Putting on my gym clothes was exhausting. A little nap and then the gym. Oh, shit. It’s tomorrow.

At least I can be sure of the “9 months on, 9 months off” rule. And, truly, I’m sure I can manage it in 4 months, what with breastfeeding and a bit of exercise and restraint.

We stubbornly hold onto the idea that we still know it all, despite every piece of evidence to the contrary. Incredibly, our faith in our parenting superiority outlasts our ditched birth plans, breastfeeding surprises (nipples can crack?!), babies who didn’t read the sleep manual, and those finally-donated old jeans. Despite all the floundering in those early weeks and months, we still sit in judgement of parents whose 2-year-olds shove, whose 4-year-olds whine, whose 6-year-olds run through the playground at breakneck speeds dangerously close to our precious toddling snowflake.

One day, we parents finally come to the uncomfortable realization that we don’t know a thing. We let go. This tends to happen right around the same time as our children let go of us. They can now stand away from us, and sometimes prefer to. They go to school. They have a life that we are not directly orchestrating or even entirely involved with.

What the hell is this? Haven’t I let go of enough? I let go of my life, my body, my sureness of my own abilities and knowhow. But now I need to let go of my babies? No. No effing way.

But we must. We must let them wander, climb, make friends with people other than our friends’ kids. We must endure their heartache; watch their awkward moments; let them make mistakes; let them take risks. Holy hell- let them go to boy/girl parties; let them go to dances with dates; let them drive! *Author hyperventilates*

There she goes All I want to do is hold on. As much as I love seeing them grow up, I just want them to freaking stop it already. All these long legs, newfound slang, attitudes, and pop culture can suck it. Just stay here- in my arms- for a moment longer.

I know enough to know that I don’t know much, but I know this: the future holds more and more and more letting go. I’m not ready. Are you?