The other weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to spend a night out by ourselves. My in-laws volunteered to have their grandchildren spend the night with them (and thereby further strengthening their place at the head table in heaven in my book).
It has been few and far between in which my wife and I gain some brief clemency from our kids. I blame no one for this except for the two of us. We could certainly keep a babysitter on retainer or plan more often for these respites but the truth is, we do enjoy being with our kids. The hours our jobs demand each of us to work does keep our nuclear family separated more times than not. This means, the time we get all together is time we enjoy spending with one another. Besides, I’ve already blamed my wife and kids for losing just about all of my hair and what’s left going grey, so with not much left to lose, we might as well spend some time together.
That same work schedule that keeps us separated as a family also keeps my wife and I away from each other. We have, for the better part of a year, been passing by each other like two ships passing in the night, right by each other on our way to a 12 hour shift, soccer practice, church classes, dance, or acrobatics.
My wife has begun to complain, “I never see you anymore”.
Not in an argumentative way but more of disappointed way. My wife and I really do enjoy being together. Sometimes it is nice to “forget” we have kids for a night (that part is easy, the hard part is “remembering” you still have them the next day) to spend some time together. I understand how she feels because I have had the same feeling about my wife from the time of our first date.
After our first date, I walked my wife up to her front door and before she closed it, I started thinking about when I would see her again. It only took saying ‘goodnight’ and watching her leave to know I didn’t want to lose sight of her again. I struggled through the unwritten 2-day grace period rule of dating before I did see her again. Thankfully this was at a time when Facebook and Twitter did not exist or else I might have been tempted to ‘Poke’ her or mention her in a Follow Friday. Instead, I went about my next 48 hours wondering if she wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see her.
She indeed felt the same way and thank god. Stalking her would have been so awkward. Each minute we spent with each other, while we dated and while we have been married, has only confirmed those first feelings I had after I said ‘goodnight’. The moments we have shared, I look back now and realize I remember being with my wife more than I remember where we were or what we were doing. That is the effect my wife has had on me for the better part of 15 years.
Today, I listen to her as she tells me she never sees me and we are both on our way out the door. Our life is no longer filled with road trips to the beach on a whim, romantic dinners at nice restaurants on a random Thursday, or sleeping in on a Sunday. It is filled with time at the end of the night when the dust of the day finally settles. Sometimes it is in the middle of the morning chaos as we feed kids, pack school bags, and pray we remembered to turn off the coffee pot as we run out of the house. Sometimes it’s a passing each other in the front door as she rattles off the still edible leftovers in the refrigerator I can safely make for the kids. At times, our time is taken up with arguments over whose turn it is to take the dog out and rock/paper/scissors battles to decide who stops the kids from fighting.
While I would always choose to spend more time with my wife in a light unencumbered by the shadows of daily life those brief moments we see each other now, passing by each other in a blur or staving off exhaustion long enough to spend a few minutes together on the sofa at night, are as important as getting a night to ourselves. Those passing times serve to stir the emotions in me today as they did 15 years ago when I said ‘goodnight’ to her for the first time. These are the times that leave me anxious and keep me wondering, when will I see her again?