I’m embarrassed to say, it’s a pretty typical nighttime situation. My husband and I finally get the boys to bed. It could be anywhere between 8:30pm-10pm, when we trudge downstairs. He goes to the couch where he sets himself up with the iPad and the sport game du jour, while I either sit in front of my laptop to write an essay or read an essay. If it’s closer to the 10pm mark, I sit for a little, maybe flip the laundry and then head back upstairs. Usually, I give him a little wave before I go.
This is our quality alone time; him on the couch with the ball players, me, in bed with the Real Housewives. We could do worse, but we could certainly do better. I hear that in this young children stage, our behavior is pretty typical. We are tired. Honestly, I’m usually too tired to even mind the lack of time together. I need time to myself just as much as I need time with my husband.
For the record – yes, I have to say it – I think we have a pretty solid marriage. We like each other. We support each other. We met at 15, started dating seriously at 19, got married at 27, and have been married for over 15 years. We know each other. Well. Still, I don’t know if I’m okay that the majority of our time together is spent alone, or that I’m just in it deep, and numb to what’s happening.
Either way, it’s only at certain moments, when I realize we’re missing something. Like the other night.
Howard was down in the basement putting together a ping-pong table that we got as a surprise for the boys. He made his way down there around 9:30pm or so, while I finished up around the house and then immediately went to lie down. Around 11:15pm, he comes into our room, where I’m dozing, and says, “Hey, why haven’t you come down the basement?”
Huh? I’m half-asleep. “Sorry. I just thought you were busy putting together the table, and I was tired.”
“Why don’t you come down now? I’m almost done.”
I looked at him, bleary-eyed, and to be honest, slightly annoyed. The last thing I wanted to do was move from my comfy bed and wake myself from my happy haze.
“I really don’t want to.” I pouted.
He looked at me with disappointment. “I thought you’d be interested and keep me company.” He paused. “And I could use your help.”
I jumped on that. I knew it. He needed my help. He wasn’t interested in my company. My expression must have betrayed my thoughts, because he backed out of the room before I even answered. “Forget it. Whatever.”
Well, I got what I wanted. I was alone again, but now I was torn. I really, really wanted to be sleeping, but a part of my brain was flicking little red flags at me. Why didn’t I originally go down to keep him company? Why wasn’t I interested? Why didn’t I even think about going down? Shit.
I pushed the covers aside, got out of bed and trudged downstairs to the basement. He was sitting on the floor, studying the instructions sheet; tools and a half put together table next to him.
I studied his bowed, wavy head of hair and concentrated expression. He hadn’t yet realized I was there; still so cute, yet obviously going a little deaf.
“Hi,” I said.
He looked up and immediately smiled. It was the crinkly-eyed smile, the one I fell in love with.
“I’m glad you came.”
“Me too.” I said, and meant it and sat down on the floor next to him.
Sometimes, you just need a moment to get your head back in the game.