An Act of Love, in the Middle Years

Sophie is 7 now, and in the fall she will start second grade. We don’t really talk about Facebook at home but somehow she knows about it (school, friends, the life she’s now living for 6+ hours on her own Monday through Friday) and lately, when something funny or charming or sad or uplifting happens she says, “Don’t post that.” And this took me by surprise, so much so that I pretty much gave up blogging altogether, not sure how to handle writing about my life while at the same time respecting her—and the boys’—privacy.

But I think mothers, in general, tend to forget we also live our own lives and that even aside from the dishes and laundry and outside freelance work and capping of markers and wiping up toothpaste from inside the sink we have interesting stories to tell.

That and my husband, long ago, said I could post anything I wanted to about him.

A door open.

I walked down the street to a friend’s house for a few drinks and conversation tonight, after the kids were in bed. (To be fair, only one was in bed so I was “getting out of” two bedtime routines.) I was reluctant to go, though. We had had a lovely early evening at our local YMCA as a family, swimming at the pool. We went out for dinner, a treat, did a 20-minute clean-up at home and then Andy pulled out his dusty guitar and played songs on the porch while I sipped wine.

I had put Owen to bed (who had gotten in trouble for not helping with the 20-minute cleanup, so he had to go to bed early although I stayed with him and rubbed his back until he fell asleep, which makes me think he got away with a pretty nice punishment, all said). Sophie and James were running around in the backyard. Almost-summer at dusk. It was idyllic. Andy finished up a song and I said, “I really should go.”

I walked to my friend’s house while he put James and Sophie to bed.

Cut to midnight.

I was walking home, less than a mile, when I ran into the girlfriend of our neighbor who lives in an apartment connected to an automotive repair shop behind our house. She was distraught, as she couldn’t find her dog, Camouflage. She said she had no voice left from calling his name for two hours. So I walked with her and hollered for Camouflage, at a level I deemed loud enough for her but quiet enough for our sleeping neighbors.

I should note that we’ve had issues with her boyfriend, who lives behind us. Also, my friend was texting me, asking me if I was home yet. I worried about my situation.

We couldn’t find Camouflage. She asked if I could drive her. I have a strict “one drink” personal policy when driving rule. So I said, “no.” But then I added that my husband possibly could.

So she walked with me to our house, and I invited her in. The kids were asleep and Andy was in the basement, playing Xbox. I walked down, careful not to trip on our dirty laundry. I explained the situation. The look on his face …

And yet, he went. He looked for a flashlight, he put on his shoes, he gave me (another) look, but then he found the keys. And he invited her into his car.

He drove around for a half-hour plus.

They didn’t find Camouflage.

But he tried.

Marriage is tough, and three young children with their child demands can make it even tougher. But then, you walk home at midnight with the girlfriend of a neighbor your husband has had issues with, and you ask your husband to drive said girlfriend around to look for a lost dog. And he goes. And you think, know, that while he’s doing it a little for her, possibly not-at-all for the neighbor, and a lot for the dog, he’s mostly doing it for you.

That’s love.

We haven’t taken a solo vacation in years. I regularly forget to tell him important things involving both of us, our kids, our life. Sometimes he comes up to bed late at night only to find me sleeping in our bed, arms wrapped around one, two, maybe three children, and he simply goes back downstairs and sleeps on the couch.

And yet we love. In varied ways.

We make a banana cream pie on a Tuesday night. We drive someone around at midnight, hoping to find a lost dog. We make do. We make up. We make right.

So here’s to all of you muddling through the young-child years of marriage. And here’s to all of you who respond to unreasonable requests. And here’s to all of you who work for love, understanding that it’s simple, even when it seems that it’s not.

“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” —Michael Leunig