Reality Week: Momentum

Reality Week: Momentum

We had dinner out. More dinner than we probably should have had: chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates; spice-roasted beets with herbed goat cheese mousse, arugula, chili-walnut honeycomb, and citrus coulis; fried chili chickpeas—and those were just the appetizers.

Thanks to a generously given gift certificate, we were dining large for our nine-year anniversary (traditional gifts are pottery and willow, if you’re wondering). Sure, my presents to my wife fell a tad flat—I’m not the best, apparently, when it comes to shoe or underwear shopping for her—but there was a particularly thoughtful handmade gift in the mix (not the underwear, if you’re wondering), and the evening was, on the whole, a success.

Lulled, perhaps, by the meal and the attendant alcohol, we cavalierly ignored—ignored!—our babysitting friends’ offer to watch our children for longer than we had originally agreed. “The girls were already up late last night,” we reasoned, “and they’re so tired, they’ll just go to sleep when we get home. The baby, too. And then we can keep celebrating.”

I will reiterate: We had the opportunity to go to our kid-free home for about 45 minutes on our anniversary, and we convinced ourselves that there was a better option on the table.

The girls went relatively quickly to bed. The baby did not. He vacillated between manic laughter and weeping, pausing only to suck down water from a blue sippy cup like he’d just eaten a whole little Zen tray’s worth of sand. When he’d emptied one, I got him another: an orange one, which was unacceptable. I was to go blue or go away.

He didn’t want to be held. He didn’t want to be put down. He wanted my wife. He wanted me. He wanted more water. He wanted to pour the water on the bed. He didn’t know what he wanted.

And then, he flung his head backward. Into my lip. My readers without kids of their own may have heard that babies have soft spots on their skulls, and that’s true—for a while, anyway—but most of a 1-year-old’s head is actually quite hard.

Now here’s the thing: I didn’t get a cut. I didn’t bruise. My mouth throbbed for a minute or two, and then I was fine. But his little skull was like a period on a typewriter, hammering into the paper of my face.

It ended the sentence.

We tried to pick up steam again later, after I finally patted and hummed the little guy into unconsciousness on our bed, transferred him to a pillow, carried that pillow to his room like I was a waitress balancing a plate of stuffed piquillo peppers in a basil oil red wine reduction, and left him—finally!—in his crib. But it was too late.

Literally.

Don’t feel too bad for us, though. We had already managed some kid-free time (!) that morning when we first woke up.

Still, can you top our what-were-they-thinking moment when we picked up the children despite the offer for more time alone?

Reality Week: The things we say

Reality Week: The things we say

As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog, my wife and I went into marriage with—we believe—expectations that acknowledged romance while making room (quite a bit of room, actually) for challenges. But a relationship isn’t all highs and lows, swinging between candle-lit dinners out and fights ending in tears. In fact, the bulk of it is spent in between those poles, even if the extremes make for more indelible memories.

So we get conversations about me buying new jeans at Ross, to replace the ones with a large hole that clearly shows off my underwear, which I nevertheless wore to church yesterday (true story); questions about scheduling trips to the mechanic and dentist on the same day; and triumphant announcements regarding fruit-fly-breeding-ground discoveries.

Children certainly contribute to the proliferation of these middle-of-the-road talks. My wife wouldn’t have been searching for the source of the fruit flies if we hadn’t packed a peach into a snack bag for my oldest daughter, then gone about our lives for a full week assuming it had been eaten and the snack bag put away.

(Children certainly contribute to the proliferation of fruit flies, too.)

These everyday words are necessary. I now own a pair of jeans that doesn’t display my choice of boxers (they had “love” written all over them, literally) to the congregation. Logistics have been worked out so that my wife won’t develop a cavity and the van’s airbag light will (hopefully) stop flashing at us. And we won’t have so many fruit flies around anymore.

These are the words our days are made of.

But there’s something more there, despite these words’ mundanity—or maybe even because of it. Choosing to spend each day with someone—knowing that most of those days will be filled with dishes and debates on bedtime and minor negotiations and all the rest—is an act of love itself. Which can make even the typical extraordinary.

Well, “extraordinary” may be a bit strong, but you get what I’m saying. My wife’s “I figured out where the fruit flies are coming from” is just like Westley’s “As you wish.”

What’s the word around your home?