Sometimes I have these moments when I wonder what it will be like when my children are grown, and it is just my husband and me again. We've had so little time together. We met and married quickly, in less than a year. We had Noah a year and a half after that. He was our focus for the next 6 years, and then Arlo joined us a year and a half ago - so we started again. Life is incredibly busy with two children, no matter how I simplify our home and our schedule. Matthew and I have never been away overnight together since we had Noah. We haven't been out on even a dinner date since Arlo was born.
When I met Matthew, it was like everyone I'd previously dated or lived with suddenly clustered together as common experiences, and he was in a different box all by himself. It was more like I recognized him than was introduced to him. And like me, he had been through some relationships which felt like fighting battles. We were both sure of what we saw in the other, and we joined hands and jumped, wholeheartedly.
But, as must so often be the case, we bring our battles along with us. Next year we will be married 10 years, and our boys will be 8 and 2. So much behind with them, and still a long way to go. My children are the best thing about my life. In my life before Matthew I didn't dare to imagine being a mom in any detail, and couldn't possibly have accurately imagined it anyway. And now it is my life, the biggest and most meaningful part of my day-to-day.
And I miss my husband so much. At the same time, sometimes I feel like I don't know what I'm missing, because I've learned more deeply about him the hard way - sleep-deprived, with small children needing and wanting, needing and wanting, as we try to need and want alongside them. Something has had to give, and it has been our needs and wants a lot of the time, at least as they relate to time with each other. Time to talk, to laugh, to console, to get to know. We've done the best we could. Sometimes I think we should be farther along as a couple, somehow doing this better, whatever that means, since it has been 10 years. And sometimes I think, we've given that time to them, our sweet little people, and given it more than willingly. We wouldn't have had it any other way. And so how much could I really even know about my husband? Still, 10 years is a long time to be with someone.
I wish I could talk with other couples, about marriage. About what they do to keep going, to keep the faith, to shore up the crumbling bridges. It's clear that the fighting battles paradigm does not a peaceful marriage make. Tonight it doesn't feel like it's full of mistakes or hardships, it's just that I wish my friend was here, downstairs, feeling companionable, and like so many moments when we are dividing labor, working our jobs, caring for our children in different directions, I am missing him instead, passing him in the fog of the days, watching him from a very long way off.
I wrote a poem once a long time ago, before I knew Matthew, and I am thinking of it tonight:
You are something I cannot touch
and I cannot be touched.
There is a barbed wire fence around my head.
My hair a tangle of snarls and burrs in it,
my fingers scarred from ancient attempts
at cutting the wire.
A tornado engulfs my body.
It is impossible to focus on the whirling mass
of dust and molecules that make me up
from the neck down.
So I stand isolated
head locked up like a jewelry box
body a binary star in motion
and you an onlooker
with no eyes.
We are hopeless you and I
no power to touch
no power to see
only lost in our own heads
to imagine what it is
we keep bumping up against.
Maybe that poem is more hopeless than it needs to be, or maybe I just needed a little space to let that part of me breathe so I can go on to tell my lonely, restless self that not being seen tonight, in this moment, is not the worst thing that could happen. I am a lucky woman. There is no way around it. A very fortunate woman. Tonight, this quiet prayer finds the seed there still, gratitude in the dusty soil, and this finger pointing up to the light.