MacGyver of Love

by Brian

Jack has grown up a bit since this picture was taken.  Add a ballcap and some stubble, however, and he’s still that kid with the “Aw, shucks” grin.  He waxes nostalgic about whatever suits him @ The Family Clay.

Brian cooked up some kind of shenanigans about a broken computer and needing some other people to guest post for him.  But I love attention, so of course I agreed to pound on my keyboard for awhile for Brian.  Here’s hoping Brian’s version of WordPress can turn ;lahsg;aljsdfghw45sethsdrythscgf into something cohesive.

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Diane and I had been married eleven years before our first child was born.  We’d dated another five before we tied the knot.  For those doing the math at home, that’s sixteen years.  I thought that was enough time to know everything about Diane.  She probably thought she knew everything about me, too.  How I’m gregarious and indestructible in the good times,  how I’m the pitiful, self-loathing loser in the bad.  But there was more.  More to each of us.

At year sixteen, neither of us knew how easy we’d had it.  We each had jobs we liked and there was never a shortage of money.  Evenings and weekends were spent on leisure and lounging.  We could watch a movie every single night of the week if we wanted, tossing popped corn into our mouths, chatting about our day.  We had our share of fights, but we took advantage of the luxury of being able to wring out the issues causing them until not a drop of blame was left.  During this period in our lives, trips to the bathroom could last two or three magazine articles.  We had time for everything.

By the time we had our second child we had both changed jobs, earning titles as firefighters and crisis managers.  Diane had left her paid position for one much less glamorous, which meant I was the now the sole breadwinner.  Gone was the freedom to have a wild Friday night of drinks with friends, collapsing into bed, half undressed with the room spinning.  Gone was a three article bathroom trip, as were the movies.  From the first days of DJ’s life the complexity of our daily familial operations increased to the point where we no longer had the time to tackle all the things we needed to get done in a day.  There were too many fires to put out, too many crises to manage.

And one of the biggest priorities to get back-burnered in all the child-rearing hubbub was my relationship with Diane.  No longer having the time to work things out between work, dinners, client meetings and nights full of undead (Diane insists it’s unsleeping) children (which was every night), a small splinter would become a crack.  As the crack was neglected it would grow into a full fracture.  There were times we thought our relationship would be in jeopardy.

I’ll take “What The Hell Did We Get Ourselves Into?” for $400, Alex.

Finally, after what felt like a year of beautiful children at the expense of a marriage, we were able to get ourselves to a baseline of love.  A place where Diane could assume that I loved her and I could assume that she loved me, even if current events made that seem uncertain if not unlikely.  The time available for grandiose statements like a carload full of balloons or rose petals spread around the house were simply not there anymore, so we had to create a way to manage our marriage on a time budget.

Having children forced us to become MacGyvers of Love.  With the tick-tick-tick of a time bomb in the background and bad guys (that strangely look exactly like our children) to wrangle, we had to find a way to fix things right now with the chewing gum, apple and mechanical pencil we had in our pockets.  That meant disagreements got aired as soon as possible and even more quickly resolved, or dropped for discussion later, while still maintaining that baseline or minimum of respect and love for each other.  Heated discussions about a parenting issue now dissolve into chats over a dinner menu in seconds.  I’m amazed myself at how far we’ve come, how good we’ve gotten at working things out quickly so that we can go fight the next fire together.  Kick ass on the next bad guy side by side.

I never knew it’d be possible to be proud of a relationship.  But after all the effort, compromise and forgiveness that went into these last few years and seeing how much stronger, how much better we’ve become at being married, I can’t help but feel pride.

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