Love is… not what I thought it was, that’s for sure. Love after kids is a whole lot more of everything real. I guess that’s one of life’s truths we learn after becoming parents. Love changes after babies.
We all know it. It’s not bad or good, love just changes. It gets real when you become parents with responsibilities that go beyond paying rent once a month like you did when you were 25. It goes deeper as you get older (and our kids grow), yet it can also feel slightly invisible (even though it’s not).
Last week, the Hubs and I argued. Big time. Our daughters saw and heard it — right up close. We yelled. We counter-pointed each other. It erupted in front of the kids on a Sunday morning before we could stop it… with me standing in my pantyhose while getting ready to go to church. I may’ve cried. My husband may’ve felt hurt. My daughters ran up to me and hugged me when my tears came… and then one of them broke off to go hug daddy because she noticed no one was hugging him.
It was an argument that most (I’ll say, ALL) married couples have. Nothing permanently damaging but still significant. (Ironically, I had a conversation about whether parents should argue in front of the kids days prior on my weekly CBS Los Angeles ‘FAB Mom’ Facebook video featuring the wisdom of Mercedes Samudio, LCSW, from The Parenting Skill — check it out here.)
I didn’t talk to my husband for almost a week after that argument. I was angry and hurt (he was too). I just didn’t want to talk. It was easier not to talk. I mean, we exchanged logistics for family schedules like, “What time are you home,” and “Will you be able to take the girls to school on Friday morning” but not much else. No good mornings. No have a nice days. No I love yous. No kisses goodbye in the morning.
We even went to a party (with our kids) while we were still mad at each other — not sure if any of the guests noticed?
At some point, my younger daughter LilMiss informed me that Cupid was going to show up and shoot my husband and I with his arrow to make us fall in love again. My older daughter LadyP drew the scene.
I laughed but also felt so sad. “We still love each other, girls,” I told them. “I’m just angry right now… like how you get when you two argue over your dolls and need alone time.” They got it. But I felt bad (and still a bit mad).
And then, it was over. (Six days later.) I decided I needed to get over it. We’re parents. We had an argument. It was time to move on. We have children that don’t like seeing mommy and daddy avoiding each other. I decided enough was enough and started talking. (Maybe it had something to do with our impromptu no-kids sushi date night last Saturday night… which was fun and reminded me that we really do love each other. We should do that more. Every parent should, I think.)
Of course I still loved him throughout my awkward silent treatment, but I also hated him at the same time (you get me, married couples). We’re now back to saying good morning and how was your day.
Alas. It was my big love lesson this past week:
Real love is so much more than love — real love is accepting the reality that you will argue, hear each other, get angry, possibly yell, not talk for a week and then shut down just because you need mental space and time to simmer down… and then access the ability to take a deep breath and get over whatever it was that irritated you, continue with life, appreciate what you have, know that you love each other (and that all married couples will argue) and go back to normal.
Real love is real life. And real life can get bumpy and messy. But as long as our kids see us parents clean up our messes and bounce through the bumps, I think we’re all good. Right? Hope so.
And isn’t that what we all want? REAL love. Love you babe.