As much as I love being able to grow facial hair and how my new work attire involves flip-flops, I would go back to cubicle world in a second if it meant I was selling paper products at Dunder Mifflin. Unfortunately, Jenn is more of a McDreamy girl then crazy for Dwight Schrute. She apparently thinks PowerPoint is awesome and hates beets. On Thursday nights, this puts us in quite a predicament as the power of the remote hangs in the balance. The way we work this out is through a thumb-wrestling match where the loser gets relegated to the bedroom while the other relaxes in the living room to watch their show on the big screen.
Tonight I won the battle so I begin to settle in to enjoy a new episode of The Office. While trying to come up with a catchy Facebook status, I get this strange feeling that I am not alone anymore. I can hear the gentle chainsaw snoring of Maddie and the rustling of Paige in her bed so I know it is not the girls. The likelihood of Jenn being awake is slim, but even if she is, Grey’s is a 2 Hour Event Spectacular so she isn’t budging. This exhausts all my options so I begin to freak out a bit.
My Macbook almost gets chucked in self defense when I realize not one, but four individuals are in the living room: a 500 pound gorilla, an elephant, blind man and an Emperor in his new clothes. Judging by their disapproving gaze, they do not appear to be a happy bunch. All at once they begin to lay in on me. It must have been 4 ½ years of pent up frustration because each one informs me this is how long they’ve been hanging out waiting for me to acknowledge their presence.
The 500-pound gorilla starts swinging his arms and blurts out, “Call me curious, but how did you not notice us after all of this time? Do you want to know what drives me absolutely bananas? After a long day where you barely saw each other, Jenn and you are glued to the television screen in different rooms.”
The Elephant in the room raises his trunk and says, “Listen Dumbo! When was the last time you two spent a night just talking about something other than the girls? Your lack of conversation is just plain nuts!”
The blind man shakes his cane in my direction and shouts, “If I can see you’ve put the kids above your relationship with Jenn, you know you are trouble. It’s crystal clear to me that you have some work to do.”
The Emperor in his new clothes says, “Let’s strip away the façade and be transparent. You miss Jenn.”
Knowing what they are saying is true I get defensive and blurt out, “First off Emperor if anyone is not in touch with reality it is you. You do realize you do not have any clothes on, right? And for goodness sake put a towel down or something if you are going to sit on my couch.”
After showing them the door, I sit back down to deal with what they just said. I miss more than Jenn. I miss us. While we were dating we could spend hours upon hours talking. This continued through our engagement and first few years of marriage. However, something changed when we added mommy and daddy to our titles of husband and wife.
Now, from the moment the kids coming running into our room at the crack of dawn until the time they try to squeeze one more bedtime story out of us, the kids are our main focus. If we are fortunate enough to find a few fleeting seconds of our own, it is spent cleaning the mass chaos Maddie and Paige created. There always seems to be laundry, diapers, spills and dirty dishes demanding our attention.
The girls normally wave the white flag in surrender around 8pm, which means we only have an hour or two until Jenn is out for good. If we are not doing chores, we can be found in a zombie like trance in front of the television or trying to get to .500 on Facebook Wrestler (okay, this is more my problem then Jenn’s). There are other times when complete exhaustion wins out and we head straight to bed. Regardless, neither of these options lends themselves too much conversation.
On the random occurrences when we take out a loan to go out on a date, our conversation normally centers on potty training, discipline issues or temper tantrums either from the girls or something work related. The times we actually “talk” are few and far between. Our older friends try to provide comfort by reassuring us that this is only a phase. In their own way, they are saying this to shall past. I know most married couples in our stage of life are dealing with the same issues of communication and intimacy.
Jenn and I are in it for the long haul and love each other a great deal. We know neither one of us is going anywhere. Yet, this line of thinking is dangerous because you can easily get lazy. Other issues, some positive like raising children, gain priority while the marriage relationship gets largely ignored. You justify it by saying she’ll always be around and after all, there is always tomorrow. But, tomorrow comes and you find yourself running from a dance recital to a work meeting and finish it off with a 4 year old’s birthday party.
Part of me is terrified that once the kids get up and running on their own, I won’t know the person sitting next to me on the couch. The US somehow getting lost when we focused on the THEM. So, tonight I bid you farewell. I am going to go reconnect with my best friend. We are going to talk about nothing, but each other. Right after I toss the couch cushion the Emperor was sitting on in the wash.