Disclaimer: I actually wrote this post in its entirety before I realized that today is Valentine’s Day. Mr. December and I don’t do V-day, and this post wasn’t intended in any way to be thematically appropriate.
So we’re sick again. Our new nanny was supposed to start yesterday, but it felt wrong to not disclose the fact that we’re the plague house right now, and she decided to wait until we’re well. Mr. December and I both feel awful, but we’re taking turns tending to the kids.
Right. So we’re sick, and it’s dinnertime. Mr. D comes staggering out of the bedroom and before I can ask, he picks up a very fussy R and changes her diaper. I call the kids for dinner and Mr. D dishes up the pasta and sauce so that I can clean up quickly before R needs to nurse again. From the kitchen I can hear him at the table, instructing K on the finer points of applying parmesan to her pasta without applying pasta to the parmesan. R cries and I go to her while Mr. December helps with hand-washing and tooth brushing. Earlier he scored brownie points by calling a nanny temp agency and requesting someone for tomorrow so that the house can get clean and the kids can be looked after and I can rest.
In the middle of it all, with two kids sitting in cardboard boxes and one whining for the breast, I look at Mr. December. His hair is tousled (and not in a sexy way – it’s just messy.) He’s got two days’ worth of stubble. He’s wearing his bathrobe. His eyes are rimmed with red and underscored by dark circles. He looks like death warmed over.
And it suddenly hits me – I love this man. I love him so, so much. It’s not the wild crush of our youth (although sometimes I still catch a whiff of that) and it’s not the romantic feeling of being so cherished or of a deep-down soul connection. It’s steadier than those. It’s the love of “we’re in this together.” This day, this moment, feels just dreadful. The house is a mess, the kids are a mess, we’re a mess, and we’re just muddling through – but there’s nobody in the world with whom I’d rather muddle through.
Sometimes I wonder about other people’s criteria in choosing a partner for life. I may well be wrong, but I feel like popular culture puts an emphasis on romantic love – being swept off your feet by someone – and sexual attraction. It would be a shame if people bought into that ideal, because it’s just not sustainable 24/7. No matter how attracted and wildly in love you are, one morning you’ll wake up to a partner with morning breath who forgot to put the garbage out, and you won’t be feeling the love in that moment.
So what is sustainable? Common goals. Friendship. The ability to work together and deal honestly with one another.
I’ll admit that I fell wildly, madly in love with Mr. December. But in the seven long years between that moment and our wedding, we had a lot of serious conversations about our goals: kids (how many? stay-at-home mom or daycare? how will we educate them?), religion (how kosher will our home be? how will be celebrate shabbat? what kind of synagogue are we looking for?), finances (joint accounts or separate? how will decisions be made on spending? investments?), and even the little things (how often would we each see our own friends? do Saturdays need to always be date nights?) We discussed our future life so thoroughly that the rabbi who married us really had nothing to say during our pre-wedding counseling sessions. And believe me, if we hadn’t been able to come to satisfactory answers for all of those issues, we wouldn’t have moved forward.
If it sounds unromantic, that’s probably because it is. It’s a bit like Tevye and Golda inFiddler on the Roof:
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought with him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?
Or, in more modern-day parlance:
But in my opinion, nothing beats looking over at my husband – elbow deep in diapers and snotty kleenex – and feeling that surge of appreciation and togetherness and unity of purpose… in other words, love.