You know you’re a mom when your Friday night consists of eating popcorn in a fort made of formerly-peed-on (but recently-cleaned!) bed sheets and stained couch cushions.
You know you’re a mom when you’d rather be there, eating with your kids in that fort, than any other place in the world.
You know you’re a mom when your husband enters said fort and replaces the juice box you’re drinking with a glass of wine. And you suddenly remember just how much you love him.
I’ve had several “marriage experts” tell me that after having kids you can’t put your spouse on the backburner. Well, three kids and 16,728 diapers later (yes, I did the math), sometimes I forget that little piece of advice. They say to remember to do the little things like leaving love notes. I guess I can do that. Or have conversations about things other than bills and kids. Well, now my mind has drawn a blank. What did we used to talk about? And finally, try to look nice for one another, or more colloquially, don’t “let yourselves go.” At this point I start to think that these marriage experts must not have kids. Do you know how much effort goes into looking nice for your spouse? My average night’s sleep, which consists of about 4-5 hours, requires more makeup than any store carries in order to cover up the bags under my eyes. After nursing 3 kids, my bras need special reinforcements. My waist-line has taken a serious hit, so wearing anything but sweatpants is out of the question. And IF I get to take a shower, that means I’ve used up my 15-minute allotment of alone time for the day, which leaves no time to do anything with the bird’s nest on top of my head. So it generally hangs out in a matted clump at the base of my neck. Try to look nice? You’ve got to be kidding me!
Once upon a time, we had a date night planned. Needing more than 15 minutes, I decided to use the TV-babysitter so I could spend some extra time getting ready. I was nearly finished and feeling good. Then Charli walked in. She looked at me and ever-so-innocently said, “Mom! You look so pretty. Can I go to Wal-Mart too?” Four years old and she has already mastered the backhanded compliment. But hey, if it’s good enough for the folks at Wal-Mart it’s good enough for me!
I don’t doubt that I need to show more love and affection to the wonderful man in my life, who is currently enjoying a tea party with our kids—British accent included. He is an incredible dad and a wonderful husband. Now, I’m no marriage expert, but here are just a few things that have worked for us:
1. On a date, don’t forget their real name. It’s not quite as romantic when you accidently call your husband “Dad,” even if that’s how you refer to him 99% of the time.
2. Hold “hannies” (most adults refer to them as hands) whenever you get the chance. Even small acts of tenderness can help keep the flame alive.
3. Laugh. A lot. Which is easy when you have kids because they give you some great stories. Like the time I was trying to get Charlotte to eat her banana and her 4-year-old response to me was, “It’s quite bland. I couldn’t possibly eat it!” Yeesh…I’m in trouble.
4. Sneak in a nice kiss whenever you can. You spend most of your days stealing all kinds of unpleasant kisses from your kids: the snotty-nose kiss, the covered-in-drool kiss, and the sneeze/cough kiss. Every now and then it’s nice to share a smooch with someone who has a more sophisticated sense of kissing etiquette.
At the end of the day, there’s no magic key to a successful marriage. It’s hard work. Every day. It’s a lot of love, a little give-and-take, and remembering to do the little things. On that note, I think I’ll leave now and swap out my husband’s cup of tea for an ice-cold beer…