Twelve Years: A Modern Day Love Story

Twelve years ago today I sat across from you at a restaurant for the first time. You had called earlier that week as I was watching That 70s Show with my roommate, trying to recall the face that belonged to the voice on the other end of the line. I had forgotten that I gave you my number when we met the previous weekend. Our conversation was brief. I didn’t know then that you can be shy, that you’re not much of a talker with people you don’t know.

I don’t remember every minute of our first date. In fact, I don’t remember a lot of it. I do remember that I instigated a lot of the conversation (12 years later and nothing’s changed). We went to a chain Mexican restaurant. You told me that you had made reservations at a little restaurant downtown but I was late and it was Saturday night. At times you seemed disinterested and I wondered why you asked me out at all. When you took me home at the end of the night you told me you would call that week. I didn’t expect to hear from you, but on Monday when I got home from classes your voice came through the answering machine asking if I wanted to go bowling.

That date was better. We began to talk daily and see each other every few days. I wondered when you would kiss me. One snowy day I happened to pass you between classes on campus. I was walking behind a building in a wooded area with winding walking trails. Snow clung to bare branches as students rushed by. When you saw me you smiled and made your way over. We talked for a few minutes and then you kissed me–quickly–before you said you had to go but would call later. Call you did, and the rest is history.

But things have changed, haven’t they? Our conversations of future dreams and making plans for the upcoming weekend have been replaced with reminders to pick up milk and bananas from the store, and did you pay this bill, and could you please for the love of God just throw the junk mail in the recycle bin instead of leaving it strewn all over the counter for me to wade through. We’ve all but lost sight of romantic gestures and inside jokes, the sweet nothings that shock a relationship with little volts of electricity. When we do talk in earnest, our conversations are interrupted with cries and whines and little hands reaching up to be held. Sometimes our words, benign as they might be, are splintered with the tight octave of accusation, one note above exhaustion.

We hardly ever watch movies anymore. And when we do at least one of us falls asleep halfway through. In the morning, you’re usually up and gone before any of us wakes up, and when you’re home I’m sometimes guilty of using you as a babysitter so I can go and do all the things that take too much effort with three kids. Remember when we lived in New York and we spent whole days strolling from the bookstore to lunch to the art museum only to come home and open a bottle of wine as we leisurely cooked dinner?

Now, the boys are almost always awake by 6:30, kicking their headboards and giggling across cribs. Mia, who has usually climbed into our bed at some point during the night, steals the blankets and buries her head. Then our day begins. Diapers are changed, mouths fed, dishes washed, laundry done, toys picked up only to be dumped again.

Luke has suddenly become attached to a blanket. He carries it everywhere. In twenty years, when we can again devote entire days to traipsing around the city if we so please, my body will ache to hold this little boy as he rubs the silky side of his blanket against his face. The visceral need to comb my fingers through Mia’s curls will find me when I’m engrossed in a novel for which I actually have time to read. And Wyatt. Wyatt has this way of staring at me as he “talks”, convincing me that the formless noises coming from his mouth are actual words — I just need to listen better, try harder to understand him. In twenty years, will he be telling me to listen better? To try harder to understand him?

I’ve heard it said that imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. I get it. As much as I miss what we used to have, I miss what we have right now even more.

So things have changed in 12 years. Time has a way of doing that. Once, we were lovestruck college kids, then newlyweds, then adventurers. Then lovestruck new parents embarking on an adventure of a different kind. Now we are taking each day as it comes, marking time by diaper changes and bedtimes and chocolate stained clothing grown too small. We fall into bed each night with a soft “Good night.” It’s all we can manage before sleep overtakes us.

This isn’t forever — things always change, but will we remember each other when the fog has cleared? Will you still find me on the trail of a winter woods? Let’s just say that our love story is one in progress, evolving with the little people who shape and light our days, to be continued.

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22 thoughts on “Twelve Years: A Modern Day Love Story

  1. now at home mom says:

    Beautiful words! Beautiful post, same for us here: when you wrote about the mornings when he leaves before any of us is up and how I use him as a babysitter when he’s back from work, so I can do all the things I couldn’t do with a baby and 2 dogs around!

    • Lara says:

      Thank you! I was hoping I wasn’t alone in this “marriage after kids” phase. It’s definitely tough, but I know the day will come when our lives aren’t dictated by the needs of little ones anymore, and we’ll be wishing for these days again.

      • now at home mom says:

        so true! I thought about it, sometimes I complain of how I can’t get anything done around here because he needs a lot of my attention and then I stop myself because I know, one day he will be all grown up and I will miss these moments! 🙂

  2. Rebecca Kai Dotlich says:

    Love goes in cycles. And besides, your love story hasn’t left the universe; it’s here .. it has become a love tale of 5 instead of 2. Those days were beautiful and new; these days are better. These days are the ones you will (both) long for years from now …

  3. Lara says:

    Reblogged this on Joy, Lovely Joy and commented:

    I’m reblogging this post to take part in the Love Fest going on over at Momalom. If you want to know more or participate yourself, click the love it up button in my sidebar.

  4. Caitlin says:

    aw i love this.. very sweet. i dont have kids so can’t relate on those points but i know the feeling of love “changing” during different phases and cycles of life. i just think its important to sometimes take time for ourselves.. to make ourselves individually happy and then when we come back together in the relationship, the feelings will reignite. not always, but at the right times it will happen.

    • Lara says:

      You’re right, Caitlin. It is so important that we take time for ourselves, whether we have kids or not. If you’re not happy as a person, you’re never going to be happy in a relationship. It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves when we feel so many obligations to life, work, family, significant others, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Wow, Lara, this is a very powerful letter. There’s so much here that’s both totally specific to your experience (love the detail about the chain Mexican restaurant) 🙂 and really universal to those of us trying to take care of our relationship while raising little kids. My wish for us all is to be able to steal more of those high-wattage moments with our partners even during these days of little hands and so much laundry.

    • Lara says:

      Thanks, Kristen! It’s so hard to steal those moments, and I’m guilty of sometimes not recognizing their importance or making them a priority. It’s been even more difficult since our twins were born. That’s part of the reason I started this blog — to slow down, reflect, prioritize and put things into perspective.

  6. Heidi says:

    Wow, very nicely done! This speaks to closely to the struggle I am having now in my marriage– trying to find satisfaction in the here and now, trying to remember that these hectic days of diapers and kids will someday become a longing. But I miss my husband as just my husband. I miss being his wife and just his wife. It’s so hard to carve out time for ourselves in the midst of being parents.

    • Lara says:

      Thanks, Heidi! It is so hard to find time for ourselves (and our partners) with little kids in the picture. The trick is being creative enough to find the balance, which we haven’t yet. I keep thinking we’ll get into the ebb and flow of this whole raising a family thing, but our kids are young enough (at least the twins) that we’re still in survival mode. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Stacia says:

    “And when you’re home I’m sometimes guilty of using you as a babysitter so I can go and do all the things that take too much effort with three kids.” AMEN! (And I’m so glad to know I’m not alone on this.)

  8. momalomjen says:

    Lovely. True. Real. Posts like this remind me why I came to this blogging world in the first place. I needed the community, the silent support that what I am experiencing is not unusual at. all. This line wows me: “Sometimes our words, benign as they might be, are splintered with the tight octave of accusation, one note above exhaustion.” It’s so hard, isn’t it? So. Hard. And yet. What happens when those little hands aren’t little anymore. I can honestly say that I fear for that reality.

    • Lara says:

      Thanks, Jen! I was afraid this post was too personal so I’m happy that it’s struck a chord with some readers. And I completely agree about joining the blogging world for a sense of community and support. It’s a huge reason why I made the leap to start this blog last fall.

  9. bluebirdsunshine says:

    What a beautifully written post. I love reading about how couples got together and by the middle of your post had a lump in my throat as my husband and I are in a similar phase of our relationship. The phase where you never seem to have time for each other because of the demands of life with a young family. You put it so much more beautifully than I could though!

    • Lara says:

      I highly doubt that I put it anymore beautifully than you could have but I’m glad you were able to connect with it. I think it’s a phase we all go through when we have wee ones. I wrote that post hoping I wasn’t alone and wanting to connect with others who are going through (or have gone through) similar phases. It’s comforting just to know we’re not abnormal. 🙂

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