I threw on sweatpants and a t-shirt today. I never wear sweatpants. Or t-shirts. I like to glam it up to greet the day. But I.give.up. I’m tired. So worn to the bone, I feel like my body was thrown in the compost pile and I’m breaking down with the tossed grains and greens. I moaned to a friend that my love life is shot. She laughed and said, “Well, you won’t get it back ’till your kids are outta the house!” You mean in fifteen years? That’s so not funny.
I’m a passionate woman. And I was a woman, life partner and lover before I was ever a mom. I’m not willing to surrender my womanhood to motherhood. But is it possible to be fully in touch with both? Most of my mom friends have been trying to convince me that things do change after kids and I should ratchet down my expectations for romance a few notches. They’re shocked I’ve been able to enjoy a spicy love life ’till Child Number Four sucked the spontaneity from our sails. Quite frankly, even at the height of difficulty in our marriage when we fought fiercely over finances, differences in parenting, and fears we wouldn’t make it…the passionate desire for each other was always there, like a steady drumbeat, moving us along. And that saw us through challenges most couples fold over. But now we’re breaking down from juggling the gazillion demands of two teenagers, two preschoolers, and lack of sleep.
I knew we were edging in the danger zone when five days would float by without connecting and after hours of soothing our baby girl to bed, we’d be so excited when she finally fell asleep, we’d simply shut off the lights and catch some zzzzz’s ourselves. We’ve got a pack ‘n play set up in our bedroom for the nights our daughter wails for hours on end, but I draw the line at co-sleeping. It works for some but I need to eek out one itty bitty space in my home where kids are not welcome. We always look forward to Saturday afternoons as our time to “connect” when the littles are taking a nap and the older two are watching a movie…but lately, we crash right alongside them instead of enjoying intimate time together! What is this, a nursing home?! This is crazy talk! And I’m truly going crazy!
Last Saturday night we did manage to sneak out for a date…to Kroger! Yeah, there’s nothing hotter than spooning in the bread aisle. But my husband and I both refuse to take our daughter grocery shopping solo because she freaks over wanting food all the time…so when my stepkids offered to watch her for a couple of hours, we seized the chance to escape…and made a date out of it. Yup, that’s what it’s come down to…Even dining out isn’t much fun anymore. I ordered a portabella mushroom appetizer on our anniversary and thought, “This could’ve bought a pack of Pampers…and speaking of Pampers…I need to do a better job of potty training this kid…” and my mind fills with thoughts of poop and nine o’clock strikes and I feel pressure to go home because it’s past Haddie’s bedtime and I know we should be the ones putting her to bed because she’s terrified deep down that she’ll be abandoned once more.
Tonight I broke down. I bawled. I want my brain back. My pre-baby, pre-adoptive mom, pre-stepmom, brain. And while I’m at it, I want my body back, too. And the bounce in my step. Am I a terrible mom for fantasizing about life pre-kids when I spent so many years so desperately wanting them? Longing for the freedom that comes with not being saddled by school schedules, sibling rivalry, activities, medical appointments, bills, and just plain sleep deprivation? And gosh the guilt that drives trying to give and give to four kids who need, need, need your time, money and attention 24/7. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR DATE NIGHTS! OR YOUR SLEEP! They want you all to themselves!!! I let out a big ugly cry tonight. I inherited two kids by marriage, so revolving life around kids is all I’ve ever known…and it’s truly by God’s grace that we’ve been blessed with two more, equally beautiful children through adoption. I wouldn’t change being a mom for the world…and being an adoptive mom is a miracle, it really is…but sometimes it’s also just…hard.
If you’re a parent of young kids with a vibrant love life, I want to hear how you make it work to do the essentials of running a family–while at the same time enjoying each other as a couple–not just co-parents!