I just phoned the husband. Yeah, he's not allowed to call me "the wife" but I can call him "the husband". But to avoid offending the rougher sex, I'll refer to him as my simply amazing man, or Sam. So I was calling Sam from the office, checking to see which of us needs to be home to meet the school bus. Sam informs me that none of our kids will be coming off the bus today. Each has play dates or after school plans. Yeah??!! Really?! How did I miss this rare piece of news? This must be the first time since elementary school that we've have a kid-free afternoon at home. Wooohooooo! No dillydallying in the office for me! My kids are my world, but it sure is nice to enjoy interruption free conversations, not to mention interruption free activities of the nekkid variety.
Which brings me to the larger subject. The effect of kids on marriage. I could go on for a very long time about the joys of being a parent, like the heart sqeeze I still feel when I see them sleeping, the feeling of a family all my own. But I'm not as eloquent as some of the mommy-bloggers I like to read, so I'll spare you the token ode to joy.
Back when my girls were babies, I read that divorce rates skyrocket after having twins, at about the 2-3 year mark. As the months and then years rolled on, it made complete sense. The battle fatique. The endless work - diapers, baths, cleaning dried crust off of high chair tray tables. I still get PTSD when I see those cute pictures of spaghetti faced babies. Add to all this the sleepless nights. Argh, those nights of sneaking under the crib trying to locate the fallen passy, not once or twice, but dozens of times. Sick baby? Be prepared to feel wiped for a week AFTER the baby is healthy. (Goddess love all of you single moms and dads. You've got my lifelong admiration). So there's the physical toll. And of course, nobody is at their most patient or loving when they are under constant physical strain. We connubials turned slave workers suffer from the small, accusing looks, if not angry words flying. The slow burn of resentments, either imagined or earned.
But with tweens, the physical drain has diminished. At this stage, its more about the lack of alone time. Heck, the lack of complete sentences. On the weekdays, the kids are up later and later. On the weekends, they often stay up past mom and dad. And when we do steal a few moments of private conversation? Conversation interruptus. Can't share two comlete thoughts before "Mom!" or "Dad?" or "Hey Mom, I need to print my homework but the printer's not working!"
And so goes married life with pre-teen intimacy siphons. We're no longer gazing lovingly into each other's eyes across the candle lit dinner table. We're co-drill sargents, commanding our kids on proper table manners and polite dinner conversation. No, we don't want to hear about the kid at your lunch table who gagged on his shoelace. By the end of the meal, I'm ready to go into an underground nuclear silo and think very seriously about dialing the ignition code.
So I've resigned myself to the fact that sweet nothings are replaced by curt phone calls signaling the all's clear and get-your-ass-home-NOW. Its not excactly the advice you read about in "keep the romance alive" books but it is the call-to-arms of battle weary parents who need to grab alone time when they can get it.