I could never wait when the kids were small to get out of the house and do a dress-up date with my husband. I would take hours getting ready, my toilette a long and lingering affair with varying shades of eye shadow and perfume. I wanted to look just right, you know, not my ďnormalĒ mom-with-kids look that involved a sweatshirt and jeans. I wanted to dazzle and let him know that behind the daily look I was still the one he chose forever with.
Letís be honest here. We all do this, thinking that makeup and a new shirt will keep the flame lit.
My head was always swirling with antique romantic notions and ideas. I wanted the consummate love story, replete with cards, roses, candies and gems. Instead there were mountains of dirty laundry, kids that ate 24/7 and a house that was strewn with Legos and Polly Pocket pieces. By the time he came home from work, kissed me and sat down in his chair, our tiredness overtook anything else.
Iíll be honest. I felt like I would never be Missy again. Who was she? I could see her standing there, far off, blurry, a piece of my past with good hair and no chocolate pudding stains on her shirt from nonexistent children. Missy with the tan legs and acid-washed miniskirts no longer existed.
Anyone for a pity party of one?
There is no perfect love story. I worked harder at being a wife and mom than I have ever worked at anything in my life, food stains and all. None of it was perfect, right down to the clogs in my drain. But Iíll tell you what was: choosing each other daily.
In between the paint on his shirts that would never come clean, the thousands of times I made his coffee with six creams and six sugars, the making and pressing together of turkey sandwiches with mayo and pepper jack cheese, and the times I wanted to run away because it all was closing in on me, he always chose me. He always pursued me even when we couldnít stand to look at each other for whatever issue we were disagreeing on.
Our safety net is choosing each other even when it seems that the ďInvasion of the Body SnatchersĒ is close at hand. (You can google that movie if you want.)
Younger us, with careful eye shadow and hair spray applied (that beauty routine paid off), would drop the kids off, hop in the car, and choose time and energy given to each other. We never did flowers, cards, candy or gems, but we did do time, no matter where our wallets allowed us to go. Dollar Theater? Window shopping in a cool town with lots of shops? It never mattered because we were doing it together.
We still do today.
If a week goes by that we donít slip away somewhere, even just for a coffee, we feel disconnected and out of sync. The rhythms of our lives can take us away from the heartbeat of each other, and when that happens, connection needs to happen fast. It can slip away in a nanosecond if we donít choose to tend our love like a voracious gardener.
There are times that introverted me wants to slip inside myself, burrow away and swallow all the feelings of the day. And for a moment I do. But he never lets me stay there long, whether with a phone call or his inimitable way of talking nonstop, while weíre couch-sitting, about his ideas and dreams. He knows how to pull me out of it.
I did find Missy again, and she is a much better version than the younger one, dauntless, not as dutiful and meek with a hint of tyrannous nonconformity in her veins. She is the perfect counterpart to the one who pursues her daily.
Itís one week after Valentineís Day. Have you chosen love today, or is it forgotten in the on-sale candies growing stale in their heart-shaped boxes?
Published: February 17, 2017