As an expat Dad, you find yourself repeatedly thrown into parenting situations you didn’t see coming. This is especially true when you live in Sweden and take a lot of paternity leave, because then you are not at work all day; you are home, the main driver of potty training, and talking about vaginas.
Like artichokes and caviar, it wasn't until well into adulthood that I acquired a taste for my parents' sex life. When I was a mother myself, I realized what a gift it was to know that my own parents had always had a robust sex life. And I want my kids, one day, to know the same thing about their own parents.
We had lost ourselves in the whirlwind of family holiday events, until we realized we needed some time just for ourselves. Thanksgiving became our holiday to stay home and enjoy each other.
My husband and I generally agree on things. Whether this is due to similar outlooks or the fact that he does his best not to butt heads with me I’m not sure, but whatever the reason, the result is a home and family that’s overall pretty harmonious. In fact, until recently, pretty much the only thing we regularly disagreed about was whether pizza should actually qualify as a food group. (It shouldn’t.) I was surprised to find out this past June that I was pregnant a third time and our headcount would be increasing again. I was even more surprised to learn a couple of months later that we were having a girl. I had the perfect name. So did my husband. They were not the same name. And neither of us is budging.
While I might seem the perfect candidate to be that sports guy... that obsessed fan who almost ruins a marriage... I'm not. Why the domestic tranquility on the sports front? I have 4 good guesses.
You don't necessarily buy into the theory that men are not nurturing, and that they act like little toddlers when they are sick but expect the exact opposite of their wives. He's a good man, and will do almost anything he's asked. But then, that's it. The asking part.
What's that phrase? Man plans... God laughs...? Suffice it to say, our babymaking plans aren't going exactly as planned.
Finding time to connect as a married couple can be hard when life is filled with work, family and everything else. But it's possible to find unexpected and truly joyous moments together in the midst of family life.
We’re good friends with a family who dressed up as the Incredibles last Halloween. It was, well, incredible. Each family member matched perfectly with one of the characters from the animated movie, and they even had portraits taken by a professional photographer friend. I was impressed with the family as a whole; with the effect of five people showing up to parties in perfect costume, with the kids' enthusiasm for the theme, and for the parents’ willingness to be kind of goofy for the sake of their kids – and in Spandex, no less. I admired them as I sat in my standard blue jeans thinking, “There is absolutely no way I would dress up with my family.”
As family life unfolds, bringing, as it must, shares of both pain and pleasure, I find myself looking for comfort in places I never looked before. I've turned to comfort foods and the comfort of cooking, the comfort of sex with my husband of 22 years, and the comfort of good friends. I've rediscovered the comforts of music to calm my soul, books that speak to my scrambled emotions, and films and television programs that help to settle sadness. A noisy restaurant, and even occasional strangers have also offered unexpected comforts. I thought I knew by now everything that could bring me comfort, but it seems there's a source I've been overlooking—the comfort of my kids.