Sunday, November 15, 2009

Love in the Time of Diapers

There was a time when my dear husband and I could lie in bed all day on a snowy Saturday, take off for a spur of the moment weekend away at a B&B, or even simply share the details of our days over a leisurely dinner without a small child screaming, knocking over a glass of milk, or hurling his his entire plate of squash at the dog.  

Those days are long, long gone.  

But the marriage still remains, and we're forced to attempt to keep the sparks of romance alive in the midst of poopy diapers, ridiculous sleep deprivation, and two little boys who seem innately programmed to wake up screaming the moment we begin to arouse the desires that produced these children in the first place.  

Despite these amorous beginnings, there's much about parenthood that's just not sexy.  Who feels particularly attractive when covered in spit up?  Sneaking in a shower while my small children might be destroying the house doesn't leave much time for shaving my legs, or armpits, or deep conditioning my hair, or for many of the other little primping habits that help us to feel desirable.  A night out on the town requires feats of organization and planning that can take weeks to arrange:  calling a potential sitter, waiting for said potential sitter to return my call, receiving call that the sitter in unavailable... repeating said scenario three times until an available sitter is located.  Tidying my house for the sitter, planning and shopping for an easy meal for the sitter to feed the children, locating attractive, stain-free clothing to wear, figuring out when in my crazy day I might get myself ready for the date, budgeting twice the cost of the actual date to pay the sitter... By the time I walk out the door, I've often had to spend more time preparing for this night out with my husband that we'll actually get to enjoy on the date itself.  It's all enough to tempt a weary parent to just give up on the prospects of a romantic evening.

But giving up just isn't an option, not if we want to come out on the other side of parenthood with some sense of affection for the spouse we so wholeheartedly fell for in our pre-kiddo days.  It takes work and a deliberate focus maintain our grasp on this tenuous thing called love.  And it might look a little different than it used to.  I've learned to find my husband attractive in situations I might not have considered before;  a man with a faux bubble bath beard making his boys laugh or sleeping peacefully with a newborn on his chest can melt my heart these days.  We make a concerted effort in little ways, like trying to call each other with a sweet word during the day rather than just a request to stop by King Soopers to buy Capri Suns for the soccer game.   And sometimes a date night can be just putting the boys to bed and sharing a bottle of wine on our deck... no sitter required.  

And though we do still dream of the days when we'll once again be able to spend amorous days alone, when our little boys run into our room and climb onto our bed in the early morning, giggling and snuggling, I often catch my husband's eye and we smile.  This love is big enough for all four of us.