I know sometimes it feels more like we’re teammates united against a common enemy. No longer a young couple wholly engrossed in each other, the time that we spend, awake, together is more usually slumped, defeated, one at each end of the sofa. There is no desire to touch each other for more than a fleeting kiss because our skin is still crawling from the over-eager clawing of our offspring. The words we speak are slurred with tiredness and despondency and we repeat faded mantras to each other to try and bolster our spirits for the next round.
“This too shall pass” I offer as I pick up a steaming turd from the carpet.
“We’ll miss this when they’re grown up” you suggest as you fend off incursions to your lap whilst you try to eat.
“He’s still only little” I remind, when you carry a flailing, thrashing, hitting 4 year old-cum-demon back up the stairs to bed for the 16th time that night.
“Sleep is for the weak” We joke grimly after one keeps us awake until midnight and the other one starts their day at 5am, after a night of nightmares or teething.
“Why did we think this was a good idea?” We ask each other on particularly bad days.
Parenthood is a privilege, aye, and a blessing too, with moments of great joy and overwhelming emotion – we just didn’t realise beforehand that the emotion that was most likely to overwhelm us was intense frustration and lack of patience.
It’s easy to forget that you are a person; a person with whom I chose to spend my life. Sometimes it seems like you’re just the man I jobshare with, at other – worse – times, you yourself are the enemy, able to walk away from this house, these children, this amazingly frustrating, tedious, exhausting role of parent to go to work and be a grown up. You complain about being tired or not having any pants and I have to bite my tongue not to rip you to shreds. I’m fairly certain there are moments when you feel the exact same way.
Sex seems like a thing of the past. I know we must have had it at some point because the results of that union are currently engaged in a competition to see who can steal more of our sleep than the other, but those halcyon honeymoon days are a very distant memory.
Through all of this we somehow have to remember that we love each other; that we’re in this together; that this stage of our lives truly is temporary, however gruelling and long term it feels right now. One day we’ll look back and remember this with nostalgia. Perhaps when we’re dealing with unsuitable boyfriends, alcohol poisoning and refusal to do anything even vaguely approaching something productive – perhaps then we’ll long for the days when they were waking us up and following us around scattering Duplo like a farmer scatters seeds.
We made a family together, a life together, we chose each other for a reason and, when my back is against the wall and I’m on my arse with exhaustion, there is nobody who I’d rather have in my corner than you. When push comes to shove you have my back and you still manage to find me both funny and attractive despite twelve years of extremely intimate daily contact with me and my mixed metaphors.
So, darling husband, here’s the thing I wanted to tell you from my end of the sofa, as I glance up every so often and see you at your end: I love you, and we’ll get through this, because this too shall pass, you know we’ll miss it when they’re grown up, remember they’re still only little and sleep is for the weak. It is. It really is. Oh my God, we’re so weak.