Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Not to be two ships in the night.

As I was growing up, my parents' marriage almost disintegrated before my eyes. It was a train wreck you could see coming, there was nothing to do to avoid it but to pick up the pieces of it after. And everyone did. Everyone helped. I understood then why it almost fell apart and I understand it even better now; now that I am married and have 3 kids of my own.

One thing that stood out during that time was my mother saying, to I cannot remember who, that the only thing she and my father did together was to go to market and that was about an hour a week. And even then, they would head in separate directions as they tried to cover as much ground as they could in an hour.

Then, a friend who was much older told me before I got married that whatever it was, I had to put my husband in front of my children. I heard the same message from our counsellors at marriage preparation as well.

It has been something that Packrat and I knew we wanted to always do even before we had the twins. And we have tried to do it ever since. Granted, it is becoming increasingly difficult with three children; two of whom now have academic needs that I have to tend to. At the end of the day, I don't want to go out, I don't want to talk  and I don't want to have sex. All I want to do is tune the world out, spouse included, and sleep.

As mums, our days just blend into a big blur of picking up kids, doing kids stuff; discipline, play, tending to them when sick. Inadvertently, when Packrat comes home, that is all we talk about. I have lamented on occasion, mostly weekends that even when we are together, we aren't quite. Exchanges are often "will you help Evan with this?" or "Can you please break up that fight?" with no connection and nothing personal or intimate. Some weekends, we forget to even kiss.

Late at night, after a long stretch of this, I lie in bed and worry about the state of my marriage. How can I be married to this man if I haven't actually said a word to him? He is just my partner in parenting. Thankfully, he knows that is about the point to spirit me off for date night or lunch or whatever, where it is just us and the unspoken rule is that we do not talk about the children.

Many mommy friends I know express envy that we do this and there have even been some who have implied that we are bad parents because we, on a yearly basis, dump our children for a period between 3 to 10 days and go off on an extended date night without kids. I do feel very guilty leaving my children behind especially now that they know how to lay on the guilt. And Muffin whose plaintive cry for Mommy tears right to my very core. But I once heard my sister-in-law tell her daughter "Mommy needs to spend some time with Daddy because Daddy is important too and misses me too". It is a message that both Packrat and I feel is important that our children learn. That while we love them very much and would go to the ends of the world for them, they are a product of our love and we need to nurture that love as well.

I found myself telling a friend today that I was at the age where I was beginning to hear the rumblings of marriages breaking down and spouses straying. Was it something I worried about? I would be lying if I said I didn't worry about it. No matter how much I feel I trust Packrat, I will always fear. It has alot less, I suspect, to do with him and a lot more to do with where I came from. And knowing how it has shaped me as a person and affected my relationships, it is even more reason to never have to put my children through those insecurities.

The problem is that falling out of love and growing apart happens almost insidiously. The neglect, the lack of attention, the attending to all the other more important things in a day; it sets us adrift. Even among friends that we don't make an effort to keep in touch with, we lose touch. What more our spouse?

Some have said that it isn't that they want it this way. It is a situation forced by circumstance. And in that way, I have been fortunate and spoilt because I get to choose to spend time with my husband. But at the end of the day, it isn't about going on vacation just alone with Packrat (although that is always nice), it's about carving out time for him and being there as if there were nothing else in the world that mattered.

I write this not just for my children, although it would be nice when they were older, for them to read why Mommy and Papa sometimes dropped them off at Grandma's and went away for a few days. I actually write it to remind myself; that I am not just Mommy to 3 demanding children but I am also my husband's best friend and when the kids are grown and moved out, I would like to still know how to talk to him and be with him.

Behaving like kids ourselves.

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  1. This is a great reminder and so very, very real. Thank you :)

  2. Hi Weiz,
    Thank you. It took a long time to write this. I didn't want to sound preachy!

  3. similar sentiments! :) and we have twins too!

    We haven't actually the heart to go on a trip without the kids. But we have date-nights every month or so.