With D(ad)'s day fast approaching, I thought it only fair to devote some blog space to the other man in my life, Big Green One. Those of you who know us personally know that we hemmed and hawed over the kid question for an inordinate amount of time. For nine years to be precise. Aside from one pregnancy 'scare' early on in our relationship, we were perpetual fence-sitters when it came to starting a family. I'm not sure why that is, exactly.
Two's a couple...
And three is certainly a threesome. We are/were deeply in love and committed, so the Green expansion should have been a most natural progression. But there was the Fear of the Unknown, since neither one of us had had any prior exposure to babies, and even children were extraterrestrials we rarely encountered in our day to day. But on the flip side, for me at least, the Fear of Regret was all the more palpable and ultimately swayed my decision to procreate. To put it plainly (because when do I not?), I didn't want to be that woman -- you know, the one who gets on the wrong side of fifty and suddenly feels bowled over by an emptiness that is more than just the product of a lapsed biological clock.
We're not in Kansas any more, honey
I sometimes take risks, consequences be damned. Anyone who has kids, no matter when they have them, knows that rugrats have a habit of throwing your so-called life into a tailspin. The image of Dorothy's whirligigging, tornado-stricken house springs to mind. Of course now that I am one, I can't imagine myself not being a mother any more than I can imagine myself without a nose. Now, there's a picture... And yet my marriage has weathered the storm of parenthood these past two years in a way it never did in the first eight. Everyone says that marriage is the big life changer, but I disagree -- parenthood is the maker or breaker, hands down.
The best of times... or not
Even at the best of times, if you're not scrupulously careful, your child can dominate your focus until you and your partner lose sight of each other. Even when you aren't both frazzled and short tempered (which in my case is 99.9999 per cent the case), finding the Da Holy Grail seems like a walk in the park compared to finding time to connect and reconnect with your partner. But it's imperative to the happiness of the entire family for the couple to put in the hours, or even the minutes. Many couples are reluctant to take vacations sans enfant and are slack about organizing child care for 'date nights'. Even it it's just a walk or drink together, I know it's hard but try to seize any opportunity to talk about something other than the breadth and texture of your child's latest b.m. Rediscover what made you like this person once upon a time. And I don't just mean how he looks in his Levis.... although it goes without saying there is that, too.
Sex is not the be all, end all
Did I really say that? That may be so, but it's still a hugely important aspect of staying connected. And nothing makes your physical relationship take a nosedive more than parenthood. If you're not careful sex, and all the aggregate intimacy that leads to it, can easily fall by the wayside, especially for moms who are often preoccupied with the business of keeping the house afloat. As with parenting, coupledom is all about quality, not quantity. Make the iota of time you have together really count. Rather than plonk yourselves in front of Gray's or Lost, share a bubble bath or sit outside together once your little jelly bean goes down for the night. Computers and televisions are the enemies of romance and, ironically, of communication. You know this; I know this. So limit the time you spend in the artificial glow. This is a sore point for me, I admit it. But as the computer is a necessary evil for a blogger and a freelancer and a wannabe novelist, I'm working on making better use of my time on the www.
Say it again, Sammy
Parenting is bloody hard work. Bloody, bloody bloody hard work (yes, you needed to hear it four times!). For the record, I'm glad Mr Green is my co-director, my partner in crime in the gory business that is parenting. I still feel blessed to have his arms to fall into at the end of every long day, be it glorious or gruelling. If I must grow old and grey -- as we all must, eventually -- then there's no one else I'd rather do it with.
Quid pro quo
In what ways has parenthood changed your relationship? What steps have you taken to stay connected to your partner?