As I write this, we are coming up for air from a two or three week rut.
Nothing huge forces us into the ditch. We just slowly lose our concentration and drift out of center, ignoring the rumble strips of silence and busyness. Sometimes we sit there for a while before either of us look up and recognize where we are. Sometimes one of us feels it before the other. Sometimes we both feel it but don’t put forth the energy we know it will require to get out of it.
Remember back before “ruts” were a thing? Back when we were madly in love and attached at the hip? Sleeping in different places felt like torture. We must have been incredibly annoying, one of the couples we swore we’d never be. You were never one to dote, not exactly, but you were attentive and I never doubted your affection for me. You would tell me you loved me in a I-don’t-know-what-I-would-do-without-you tone that made my stomach do back-flips.
Back then, I was young and confident. I knew all the right answers. I had pre-pregnancy legs. I had a rear-end that wasn’t reaching for the ground. I got loads of sleep. I was naive and happy in an “ignorance is bliss” kind of way.
That confident, independent woman-child told you things like, “I don’t like romance,” and, “Please don’t get me flowers. They’re such a waste of money,” and, “If you EVER (insert cheesy gesture here), I will run the other way.” I wanted you to know that you weren’t getting involved with one of those “needy” girls.
Flash forward to today. Ten years later.
Most days involve pajamas being worn way too long, makeup staying zipped up tight under the counter, poop, death-whispers, tantrums, drop-offs and pick-ups and meal-planning and laundry-folding and monotony and routine. Most days I feel less like a wife and more like a manager.
You come home to someone who may or may not have brushed her teeth yet, who is ferociously chopping up dinner with hair wadded atop her head and a screaming two-year-old hanging onto her calf like a baby chimp.
And can I just say, my love, I’ve changed my mind.
I need romance. I told you I didn’t, but I do. I need flowers and compliments and all the cheesy gestures. I promise I won’t run the other way.
You are pretty much exclusively the one person who can accurately assess whether I’m doing this job well or not. And most nights, I go to sleep believing I’m not. I convince myself that since nobody told me otherwise and since at least one child’s stability is in question and since I cooked cheese quesadillas again, I sucked.
This life has a way of making me feel invisible. Which is weird since my name is shouted 47 million times a day. Still, I feel like I’m in one of those fast motion scenes where the main character is standing still in real time and everything around him is racing at hyper-speed. Everyone is moving and doing and succeeding and I’m here, changing a diaper, again.
Will you tell me I’m really good at changing diapers? Like, I’m the best diaper changer you’ve ever seen?
Will you bring me flowers on hard days?
Will you ask me out on a date just because you want to spend time with me?
Will you tell me I look pretty when I clearly don’t?
Will you surprise me with… anything that would surprise me?
I just want to feel seen.
Will you see me?
For years I resisted it, but I need you. Not in a romance movie you-complete-me kind of way. But in a this-is-a-hella-hard-stage kind of way. I just need you to tell me I’m good at this and you love me in my sweatpants and this is the EXACT life you wished to be in.
I need you to tell me I’m doing a good job.
Because if you don’t, I’ll just have to go off of how the kids turn out. And I’m not sure I can handle that kind of pressure.