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February 12, 2016

An Open Letter to my Fiancé & Co-Parent on Valentine’s Day.

Drew Hays/Unsplash

Everyday Love: What Moms Experience.

“Hello?”

“You’re right there—and I miss you. You are standing right in front of me, and my heart aches to be closer to you.”

This is a common start to a conversation happening repeatedly in our house lately—a house filled by two adults and three small children, who, despite being the products of a deep love between two devoted people, seem to also be the very obstacle to nurturing a sustainable, healthy relationship.

How many women know the feeling?

How many women stand in their sweatpants, covered in cereal crumbs, with screaming children at their feet, on their hip and climbing on their back, wondering how they arrived at this place of being smothered by little forms of “love” they once created with their partners?

How many women long for a distant past when adult time together was nothing but late night spooning and slow sips of tea on Sundays?

Let’s be honest here. It’s not that you are not grateful for your life. It’s not that you don’t adore your children. It’s not that you wish for anything to be different.

It’s that you wonder:

How did I get here?

What happened to the romance?

Has my partner even looked in my eyes lately?

Because life, with children, is now a never-ending list of necessities and tasks. And we, as mothers, are becoming professional task-masters.

As moms, we juggle. We bounce. We tightrope walk the parenting act like circus clowns, always managing to keep the balls in the air—the meal planning, the transportation, the weekend activities, the homework help, the diaper duty, the play dates, the bills, the house, the careers, the laundry (yes, the laundry, that endless mountain of cotton that somehow haunts and huddles on every floor surface of every room in our home).

We quietly coax the needs of our own hearts into submission, while we tend to the countless emergencies that arise in a day and collapse into bed, deflated and empty, at the end of each night.

Deep within, we long for that time back, that phase of life where we are the woman who can swing her arms freely about the world. With purpose. With flair. With identity. With the luxury of eating an entire meal alone while savoring exemption from another dinner discourse about who got a larger scoop of rice on their taco and why that is so unfair.

Mostly, this lack of freedom is why we want to flee. This is why we imagine having our own child-free apartments, complete with limitless lavender bath salts, teapots filled with warm, chai tea and stacks of books we might actually read at a pace faster than two paragraphs per day.

This is why we long to escape. This is why we feel emotional. This is why we want to be the three-year-old we are raising who can throw their whole body onto the floor, limbs flailing, and demand the blue plate, not the green one.

Because we are giving.

All. Day. Long.

And we see you, our co-parent, with that flirty look in your eye and your hint to actually participate in physical contact.

We laugh, because it is all we can muster so as not to cry, so as not to tremble in grief for the time or energy we used to have for tending to our relationship—before all these little people began begging for our attention and our smartphones.

We try to consider you, after the baby’s achieved milk coma status and the boys have finally stopped bickering enough to fall asleep. We try to acknowledge you, after the dishes are washed and the floor is swept and the emails are sent and the work prep is complete. We try to connect with you, after the trash cans are taken to the curb and the bank statements are balanced and the giant (previously mentioned) pile of laundry gets shoved into the extra bedroom.

Yet, you see we are an open playground for our children to learn how to be socially and emotionally mature. Our mothering arms are their monkey bars. Our heart is their merry-go-round. Our skin is their binky. By the end of the evening, we are without defenses. When the sun has set and the children are finally asleep, we have nothing left.

And then, by the grace of something beyond us, one of our little ones wakes, fearful of something, and calling out for one of us. And together we tend to them. And we see their little dimpled hands reach around our necks, and we watch their chest rise and fall with an easy reassurance that all will be well; mom and dad are here. Sleep resumes.

In this sweet and ordinary moment, we know that we are doing something so much more important than sharing croissants at a corner cafe and roaming aimlessly about the world; we are raising a human being. Together.

We are teaching them about love and trust and emotional security. We are learning from their innocence and their openness and finding ourselves growing in our own courageous attempts to be vulnerable. And to love—bigger, deeper, more.

So we accept our calling and our duty as parents. We surrender to the demands and let go of our own ego attachments to have more of what we want as individuals. We rise up to our place in this world. Because the world’s got nothing on this home we’ve filled with love.

And children.

And laundry.

~

Relephant Read:

Is This Even Legal? The World’s Toughest Job.

~

Author: Melanie Everett

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Drew Hays/Unsplash

~

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