I say so many things to you, but I rarely say the ones that matter.
I ask you to help get her dressed or to please let me know if you’ll be home late tonight.
I tell you to have a good day or to do me a favor and refill her cup.
What I don’t tell you is this:
I can’t live without you—if life is unfair and ruthlessly snatches you from me, I would shrivel up and die, at least inside.
I love the way that you hold me close and how you won’t let me go, even when you feel me pulling away to do something more practical.
I love sharing parenthood with you, but I long desperately for those nights when we had no one to worry about but ourselves and how we would stay wrapped up together all weekend long, never leaving our bed.
I want to have your next child, but sometimes I fear that this would drive us further and further away from the sanity of childless couples—the types of things that everyone takes for granted pre-kids, naively thinking that they will be “different.”
I was naive too. I was idealistic—if we weren’t, no children would be born.
And sometimes I fear, too, that my lofty and imaginative dreams prevent me from seeing the reality of our lives: that romance has to be squeezed in between potty training and food all over the floor.
It has to be tended to and cared for before it wilts and withers and falls to the ground.
And that’s not to say that I don’t think our little threesome is perfect—I know we are—but I do still wish that I could be more of your wife sometimes and less of a mom.
Yet that’s the strange battle within mothers: we need absolutely to be women, first and foremost, but we also can’t stop being moms.
I feel your firm thumb trace the narrow line of my jaw and my skin pricks and my steady-rhythm heart becomes significantly less steady.
I look in your eyes and I see the boy that I knew would grow into a fine man; I see all of his courage, his brazenness and his own neediness behind the dark-rimmed glasses you now wear.
I see your muscular arms and I see the athlete that fathering did not take away.
I hear you speak animatedly about new bike trails or a new album you heard on NPR and I know that somewhere in you, you’re fighting this same war as me.
Because I might be the mother to your child, but I never stopped being your lover.
I might come to you less often and with less careless ease when I do, but my coupling requirements haven’t changed.
And those evenings when it feels like I’m against you? When I’m grouchy and tired and not the woman you likely want to spend time with? She’s disappointed that she can’t just have one night off—to be with you.
But I don’t see myself being the sort of woman who goes away for weekends with you, without the rest of our family (although I admire this type of woman, don’t get me wrong).
I don’t see myself slowing down in my own creative compulsion to write—to make art that others want to read—because I can’t stop and, anyways, I don’t want to. Regardless, this is one more distraction from you and from our love.
So, father of my child, what I wanted to tell you today is that some things can’t be placed into words and retain their deepest meanings.
I can’t perfectly describe how my belly feels on fire when I curl up into the crook of your arm, where my head nestles just right.
I can’t explain to you that all I want in this world is to grow old with you, but that I want it to go as slowly as possible.
And I want you to know, especially when my eyes are angry and my voice is either numb and silent or piercing and shrill, that I choose you over and over again, and that I’ll do that forever.
While I don’t know for certain what forever means, I’m certain that my forever and yours are intertwined.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author