My husband lay behind me, and I curled into his body, his arm twined around my torso. My back to his chest, we fit together like two spoons in a drawer. It felt like home. We laid there on the couch together watching TV, and I could feel his hot breath in my ear.
“I’ve missed this,” he whispered.
I agreed with a satisfying purr.
How long had it been since we laid like this? Too long to remember. I mean, we made time together as husband and wife, but to just lay beside one another for an extended period, soaking in the other’s presence? It had been a while.
Indeed, one or both of us usually had a kid or two in our lap, and you couldn’t very well twine into one another on the sofa when every few minutes someone came up asking for chocolate milk or if you could help them find something that was laying in plain sight. I’m not sure how we had managed it this long on this particular afternoon, but we had. I could hear the girls playing contentedly in their room, so I just enjoyed it while I could.
We were in our [40s], and our entire married life had been about parenting. I don’t think we had planned it to be that way, but it’s how it turned out. We got married at , in November, and worried that it might take a while to conceive, I had stopped my birth control in December. Yep, by January we were expecting. I wasn’t even ready. Neither was he, but somehow together we made it beautiful. Having a baby brought out the best in us, and as a couple, we grew.
That whole decade would be a series of pregnancies, deliveries, breastfeeding, newborns, and moving into different homes to suit our growing family. First steps, first words, and first everything’s. Times three! It was a whirlwind thirties for us, for sure. Watching my husband blossom under the mantle of fatherhood was one of my favorite things, and being a parenting partner with him was more than I could have hoped for. He was a wonderful dad!
Yet he was more. And as I lay against his body on the couch, feeling the rise and fall of his chest against me, I knew it was true.
Marriage and parenting can be especially challenging when combined. There’s so much going on. Through terrible twos, stomach bugs, and birthday parties you go. You run errands, change diapers, and go to multiple doctor appointments. You worry, you rejoice, and you cry when you fear you’re messing it all up. You disagree on methods, you discuss the tough issues, and you fall asleep exhausted as soon as your head hits the pillow.
You hold hands together in the hospital waiting for the ultrasound of your daughter’s heart. You worry together.
He holds the baby’s arms down while you twist her head side to side, tortuously performing the physical therapy exercises they taught you to do. Your eyes meet in sympathetic wailing as you work through the baby’s loud cries. This too shall pass.
He comes into the bathroom to check on you where you lay in the floor next to the commode. How long can a stomach virus last for one family?!
Bills! So many bills. We need diapers. We gotta buy a bigger vehicle. She’s outgrown her shoes again.
Go take a bath. I’ll watch the baby.
You stay home by yourself for a change. I’ll take everyone to the store with me.
Go ahead and go to bed. I can tell you’re tired. I’ll put them down.
Through our nine years of marriage, we had parented for over eight years of it. We had never really known each other just as husband and wife, but rather always as mom and dad. And we were wonderful at it! We were the perfect team! We were a dynamic parenting duo! But I never wanted to forget what it felt like to spoon on the sofa with the man I fell in love with.
My husband was a wonderful father, but before that he was my wonderful husband. He was a dad! But he was also my best friend. He was my confidant, my prayer partner, and so many days the lifter of my head. God had gifted me with this man, and not just to be the father of my children, but to be my companion for life. One day the children would leave the nest, but I knew it wouldn’t feel too empty. Because it would be filled with him.
It’s easy to get sucked into the parent trap. To see your spouse as your helpmate in matters involving the children, but forget that he was an ever-present help for you in all things. Although I love being a mother, I didn’t want that to define me alone. Before I was their mother, I was his wife, and after they grew up and became mothers themselves, still his wife I would be.
Seasons change, but love remains.
Our only season of married life had been a season of parenting small children, and sometimes that can be pretty overshadowing. The demands of raising multiple, little people take a lot of strength and energy. Like, a lot! But I never want it to take it all. I always try to leave the best parts of myself for him. He deserves that of me.
“I miss this,” he had said.
And I had too.
It’s unrealistic to think that you can cuddle all day with three children eight years old and under around 24/7, but I did know this. I didn’t want to forget. I didn’t want to forget how good it felt to snuggle up alongside my best guy. I didn’t want to forget what it was like to miss and long for his embrace. I didn’t want to forget that I was made for him and that he was made for me. I didn’t want to let it slip my mind that he was more than just the father of my children; he was also the love of my life. I held him above everything, and other than the good Lord, he was the one I loved the most. I poured a lot of energy and adoration into the children. We both did. But when it came down to it, he was the only one I wanted to end the day with, melting into his arms, and letting all our other obligations fade away, even if for just a moment.
I had missed this too, but I never wanted to miss it so much that I forgot what it was. Never.