have changed at our house, as times are wont to do. In the early years of our
marriage, romance was a challenge. Time was a factor. We both worked full time
and divided the rest of our time up toting the kids to t-ball practice, marching
band practice, brownies, cub scouts, birthday parties and science fairs. I estimate
that between the four of them, my children have attended approximately 10,024
birthday parties. There was homework to help with and bedtime stories to read.
There were kite strings to untangle and broken hearts to console. There was bubble
gum in somebodyís hair at least once a month. There were goldfish funerals to
cater and picnic lunches to pack for the long, dangerous trek to the neighborhood
gazebo six blocks away. Shoes to buy, shoes to find, shoes to tie. I used to pray
for the day that everyone would be able to put on their own shoes unassisted and
take care of all their own toileting needs. |
Privacy was a factor. Once,
in an act of sheer desperation, we sprinkled chocolate chips all over the living
room carpet and hid in the garage for five uninterrupted minutes of romantic bliss.
Well, "bliss" might not be the word. We crouched at the door on alert, our bodies
thrumming with tension, listening for somebody coming. All we could hear were
muffled snorts and grunts. We began to relax. I sighed and turned to Mike. Mike
sighed and turned to me, opening his arms. I moved into his embrace eagerly. He
wrapped his strong arms around me, murmuring endearments into my ear. Well, at
first I thought they were endearments. It sounded friendly, in a way. Something
like, "Phlltt. Phltt." I was starved for adult attention, starved for some physical
contact that did not involve any grape jelly anywhere on either participant. If
"Phltt. Phltt." was what I was offered, I was prepared to accept it. "Liz," Michael
moaned, pulling away from me.
"Michael, my darling," I replied, trying
to sound swept away, while still keeping an ear cocked for the sound of little
feet on the steps.
"My gum . . ."
"Uh, huh?" I answered wondering
if that was the creak of the screen door Iíd heard.
"Iím so sorry, but
I think I got my gum in your hair."
It was just about then that Tootie
crashed through the door shouting, "Mama, Mama! I told Davey I got the area near
the T.V. and he keeps sneaking over there. Sarah has twelve chocolate chips and
I only have ten and she wonít share and I think Andy is coughing up a hairball."
So much for privacy. So much for love. So much for a gum-free month.
Things are much
different now and if we had only known that they would come so soon, we might
not have wasted so much time longing for these relatively child-free days. Now
we can enjoy each otherís company all we want. We used to dream of spending long
Saturday mornings nestled together in bed, reading the paper and discussing world
events. Enjoying one anotherís, um, intellect and stuff. Nowadays, we can spend
all the time in the world nestled anywhere we care to nestle as long as we keep
out of the kidsí hair.
"Hey!" tap-tap-tap, "Whacha doiní in there? Can
I come in? I just want to show you something I made. Hey!" tap-tap-tap, "Can I
just come in and show you one thing?"
"I just need five minutes alone!
Is that too much to ask? Go watch T.V. for a few minutes, Mom, and when I come
out Iíll find you a project."
We can have all the romantic, candle lit
dinners we want these days, but theyíre not as much fun as we remembered from
our dating days. We try to chat a little, compliment each other, look longingly
into each otherís eyes. Itís either love or myopia, but who wants to split hairs
on a special night like this? Our dinner comes and there is nothing on either
plate that could be described as "junior" or "fun-fabulous" or "Ker-A-Zee!" It
is only dinner. I reach my hand out toward Michaelís side of the table, looking
at his dear face. "Liz! No! Keep your hands on your side of the table!"
"Ah, come on Mike! Just this once. Just for old timeís sake. Please?" And because
he loves me still, because we have raised children together and been through good
times and bad together, Michael understands. He sighs and relents. Just this once,
he lets me cut up his meat for him. For old timeís sake. And in an act of love
and understanding, he reaches out toward me gently, and spills his milk.