The other day, I ran into a woman from my childbirth class at the park. I hadn’t seen her in years, but being in a childbirth class with someone will create a shocking sense of intimacy. Plus, I always really liked her.
We were standing near the fire-engine climbing structure thing and she asked me, “So, how’s Rom?”
“Your marriage is good?”
“You guys have date-nights?”
“Uh, well, yeah. I mean, no. Not lately. But when my mom was in town, we did, and then we were swapping times with my brother and his wife… but then, well, …we have the baby now.”
I thought if I kept talking maybe she would stop asking me questions. I rambled on about this and that, and then we moved on to admiring the kids’ fire engine driving abilities.
Clearly, Rom and I weren’t (uh, aren’t) having regular date nights, but did this mean I was admitting to her that my marriage was in trouble? Not good?
I’d never liked or really understood this pressure for things to get “back to normal” as soon as possible after becoming parents. Like, going to the movies and out to restaurants are the keys to a happy life AND a good marriage? I always felt that having a kid creates a new normal (and secretly hoped that this wasn’t just an excuse for how boring we now were).
I read once, in the first months of Orlando’s life, an essay by a new father. He said, “Time suddenly had a face, and it belonged to my child.” I have never been able to completely recapture the feeling of amazement and relief I had when I read that… but it was as close as I had come to articulating the realization I’d had, since giving birth, about time. About how slow it is, and thick. About how many fathoms it sweeps across, and contains. About how my life was no longer the center of my life, and it was no longer the machine by which to measure the passage of time.
In that image of time moving through my son — carrying him into his own life, and into our shared lives — I realized that becoming parents will be a forever-thing for my husband and I, and that I believe in the simultaneous existence of Rom and I as individuals in love and as individuals in service to a manifestation of our love.
So, for now, I am embracing the new normal, one that is shockingly intimate with life itself and that has brought me closer to my own heart, and to why I decided to share my life and heart with the person I married.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!