Love in the Time of Toddlers


Here’s the ironic thing about love, sex, marriage, and childbirth:

  • Desire leads to pursuit.
  • Pursuit leads to romance.
  • Romance leads to love.
  • Love leads to sex.
  • Sex leads to children.
  • Children lead to endless thwarted opportunities for their parents to engage in the very activity that brought them into the world to begin with.
  • Rinse and repeat.

They say love is easy, its marriage that’s hard.  Well, add children to the mix and the degree of difficulty gets multiplied by 1,000.  You go from spontaneity and passion to scheduling dates a month out and setting up at least 3 different back-up plans just in case the poor sap you roped into taking the little heathens (hi, Mom!) has something come up and has to cancel.   You go from long, soul-baring conversations where you become lost in each other’s gaze to short, specific status updates on the going-ons of the household, not even bothering to look up at each other because you’re currently attempting to prevent or mitigate the damage of whatever deviltry the small ones are currently engaged in.  You go from blowing money on some last-minute romantic getaway to making sure every penny is accounted for to cover the cost of the mortgage, the groceries, the day-care bill, and the constantly needed supply of jumbo-sized boxes of diapers that only seem to last two days at a time.

It takes a toll on the old love-life, and I’m not just talking about the sex.  If you don’t watch yourselves, you’ll end up  having a relationship that’s closer to a strategic alliance from the “Hunger Games” than the star-crossed love of Kate and Leo from that James Cameron movie whose title I can’t even bear to type out.

Steps must be taken, and I assure you, the children will be of absolutely no help.  Based on my experience, toddlers will do everything within their surprisingly formidable power to insure that no further “pretenders to the throne” are introduced into their kingdom, intentionally or otherwise.  This is especially true of mine.

Footloose remembers what happened the first time he let his guard down and let Mommy and Daddy have some quality alone time together.  He ended up with Roundbottom.  Never again.  Speaking of whom, Roundbottom is bound and determined that his status as the baby of the family will never be threatened.  It’s about the only issue they are truly united on.  I’ve tried, over and over, to assure them that we have no intentions whatsoever of adding to our happy little brood.  They however have decided that as well-intentioned as I might be, my judgment has failed me in the past and they can take no chances.

This has resulted in constant interruptions of any hugging, kissing, or other bodily contact Mama Angel and I might attempt to engage in.  Most of the time they try to be sly about it, putting on a sweet smile and jumping between the two of us so that they can “get in on the love”.  Other times – and this is not exaggeration or embellishment on my part – they will just come up, slap one of us (me), and shout “stop it!”.  Apparently they’re not hedging their bets on simple interruption, as they’re also resorting to physical torture.  Of me.  I won’t go into how many crotch shots are inflicted upon me daily.  At this point, I don’t think I could reproduce if I wanted to.   They’re not letting that stop them.  Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Coming back around to an actual point, look at it this way.  It’s been said that you can’t plan for parenthood, you can never prepare yourself.  That being the case, you might as well just go ahead and have the kid because no time is ever going to be the perfect time.  I say that you can apply that exact same logic to making time for yourself and your partner.  Seriously, there’s almost never a perfect time to steal a moment for yourselves, so you might as well just go ahead and do it.  In fact, do it this weekend.  Call up whoever it is you’re going to try to con into babysitting (hi again, Mom!), and hightail it out of the house the moment that person shows up.  Oh, and don’t fall for the hellacious crying fit the little ones are going to try and guilt you with to keep you there while you’re making your way out the door.  Trust me, five minutes later they’ll see something shiny or start watching a damn “Elmo” DVD and you’ll be completely forgotten.

Don’t waste the time together alone, either.  You have very little freedom to enjoy, and you have to make the most of it.  To paraphrase the great Sarah Connor, in one night, you’ll have to love a lifetime’s worth.  This isn’t the time to go sit in a movie theatre and ignore each other.  You can sit next to each other and stare blankly at a screen at home.  You need to get out there and do things that help you connect again and remind each other why you decided to spend all that money on a wedding to begin with.  Do something that makes you feel like YOU’RE the kids.

Most importantly, no matter what you decide to do or where you decide to go, DO NOT.  BRING UP.  THE CHILDREN.  It might amaze you to hear this, but you and your significant other had a whole life and relationship before the rugrats made their appearance.  A night out is supposed to remind you of that, and tantalize you with the promise that you’ll someday get those treasures back after the kids have left.   Unless the babysitter (geez, Mom) calls in a panic because a head has gotten stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be, the kids can make it 1 night without you.  They’ll be there tomorrow.  They’ll also make you pay for going AWOL, so you better live it up while you can.

At this point, any gentlemen reading this are probably under the impression that the boys have been completely successful in stomping out my man-bags, or that they have stumbled onto some kind of advice for women site.  Guys, you need to trust me on this. I’m not speaking out of complete altruism.   If you thought it was hard enough to entice her before you were married, just stop for a moment and really think about how hard it is now.  She’s seen her entire body changed irrevocably through the course of bringing your bowling-ball headed children into the world.  The clothes, hair, and make-up she used to care so much about have given way to the far more practical booger covered t-shirts, sweatpants, and bedhead that she escapes to at home.  At least in my wife’s case, she likes to get dolled up and feel pretty every once in a great while. Show her that she isn’t just “Mom”, but still an actual, honest to God woman that you still desire just as much as the day you first met her.  She will thank you.  (Wink, wink).

Oh, and ladies?  That goes the same for you.  Believe it or not, we do actually enjoy being the center of your attention just as much as you enjoy being ours, especially when we’re not being asked to engage in the household chores we so desperately try to avoid.  We like to feel pretty, too.   Show us that you love the old Dad-bods we’ve devolved into.

More than anything else, just make sure to show each other how much you appreciate one another.  Life gets so busy that it becomes easy to take one another for granted.  Don’t fall into that trap.  It’s you two against the world, world being defined as the midgets you’ve decided to revolve most of your lives around.  It’s real easy to forget to focus on the person you decided to share your life with when you’re so focused on the ones you’re trying to keep alive long enough to reach self-sufficiency.  Love each other now, so you can keep loving each other later.

Just not so much that you end up with another kid.  Stay clean, stay strong, stay focused.













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