When my husband and I were dating, some of our relationship was long distance. One of my favorite parts of this was the pile of letters that we wrote to each other over the course of a year. As you can imagine, that exchange of communication made my logophile heart pitter pat (that means lover of words 😉). Specially addressed envelopes, expressions of devotion – my tough football coach was a romantic!
We enjoyed wedded bliss for eight years before having our first child. Really, we still enjoy wedded bliss -just in a “less sleep, less time alone, less opportunity to communicate” kind of way. Yet, he is still a romantic! Before we had kids, I remember a coworker saying something to the effect that seeing your spouse in a parenting role can be very romantic. I also remember tilting my head to the side, strongly doubting her, and politely thinking “whatever.”
Yet, I am pleased that here is another example where it has been good to be wrong :). As it turns out, that coworker was right. I got another letter the other night – coyly slid under the door to the room of our toddler while I cuddled with him at bedtime. This note read, “please bring out the fish bucket.”
The letter made me smile. 14 years ago, when I doodled hearts on envelopes and went to the mailbox with eager expectation, I had no idea of the little world that he and I would build together. Someday we would make a home, and add to it a couple of babies and a lot of aquariums (he is very into aquariums). It was funny to see where our love letters had led. And funny that this one now made me smile. The message may not seem romantic, but the heart behind it was, he didn’t want to mess with my parenting/cuddling practice, didn’t want to wake the little one whose wails would certainly disrupt the rest of the evening. He waited patiently for what he needed, so that our son and I could complete our routine. This note was the next topping on the sundae of love that we have been slowly making from dating to now. (And the stuff of fun memories like how we keep his aquarium supplies in the baby’s room, because, well, I really don’t know why).
This note got me thinking: there had been several gestures he had made recently that made the romantic meter soar. Oddly, or not, they came out in his parenting (that coworker was on to something).
So what were these occasions that made me think “what a catch!” and swoon? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and winter coats. One morning he stopped before he left for work (before the sun came up) and made our daughter’s lunch. Another morning, I walked out to the living room to see the kids winter coats and hats laid out on the couch for our departure.
Now: winter coats and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There used to a be a time where we celebrated date nights religiously. Weekends were marked by traditional flairs of romance. We always saw each other at their best. Together, we were on our best behavior. We’re still like that – sometimes. But we are also our true selves… The true selves that appear after being really tired, and really loved out by life that includes work and two little beings. Romance, like so many other things over a duration of marriage, changes and buds and flourishes differently. Our love letters have changed, and our love, swelled to include those two little beings, has too, for the better.
Winter coats and a pb&j. Different from where we started, but surely, still romantic in my book ;).