My husband and I have worked hard to carve out time for each other in our busy, workaholic lives. We cook together. We indulge in our mutual appreciation of wine together. We do the couch potato thing and watch Netflixed episodes of NCIS together. We even make a weekend activity out of house hunting. As busy as we both so often are, we cling to these moments of intimacy, and know that we'll have to try even harder once a child is in the picture. We come from close, tight-knit families and, despite my mother's failed attempts to institute monthly Family Fun Time several years ago, we both have fond memories of growing up—and growing close—thanks to regular family activities and events. It's important to us that our kids have the same sort of chidhood.
Some family stuff is just plain hard. Like now. My mother is 84, lives 2,700 miles away, has been in and out of the hospital due to illness, and is now in a rehabilitation center. I've flown from New Jersey to Nevada to relieve my brother, who lives down the block from her. I'm now navigating conversations with doctors, figuring out what isn't being said and working out what happens next. I'm staying for several weeks and, since I've done this a few times, I know the terrain. I'm not complaining. But I am keenly aware of what such separations and circumstances do to my own family, to my marriage and to me as a mother.
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My husband and I once visited all 33 New Jersey wineries registered through the NJ Wine Growers' Association. We did it in three, frenetic months. We spent every single weekend together over the course of those three months, immersed in this shared interest of ours, and it revitalized our marriage. Nowadays, we still enjoy the occasional tasting and, most weeks, we pour each other some wine and cook together. It's a way to keep connected, even though we're still hopeless workaholics. This will all end once I get pregnant.
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I know that as a mom, I have had a hard time accepting my mom body. There are days and times when I look in the mirror and say, "Damn girl, you are lookin' HAWT!" and there are still other days when I look in the mirror and think, "what in the world happened to my body?"
My wife has encouraged me from the very beginning to be as involved with our babies as she is—time off work, babywearing, co-sleeping and the like. But we've still had our rocky baby moments, and most of them have revolved around gatekeeping.
My husband and I, and our two sons, ages 12 and 16, eat dinner together every night. As a family. At the table. TV, computers and texting not allowed. We talk, argue, laugh, and plan trivial and important stuff. We look one another directly in the eye and speak out loud, often in full sentences. When you sit across the table from your spouse every single night, and you ask about one another's day, and sometimes even put your hand in his, locking eyes and silently smiling over something your kid just said, that's a powerful message. We eat, there's love and, when Aunt Cathy visits, we even pray.
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In these days when everything is rushed and money is tight and date night is a pipe dream because we don't have the time or the money, a little note written with a broken crayon by the microwave light at midnight does me just fine.