My husband and I are hiding in our 6-year-old's bed. His comforter is pulled over our faces, and we're lying in the dark breathing stale, slightly pee-smelling air. Somewhere off in another corner of the house, we hear our kids giggling and yelling, "18, 19, 20 ... ready or not, here we come!"
Soon the boys are bumbling through the hall, laughing and pulling open doors, looking for us. My husband feels around in the bedclothes for my hand and takes it. "This is our life now," he whispers, and I can hear the wry grin in his voice.
We are quiet and still in our son's bed. Buried under a blanket, listening to the voices of our children.
* * *
We started out with a few wild booze-soaked years before saying our vows, and eventually we had a mortgage and a dog, and then a baby. We've been together for 13 years or so now, and over that time, so much has changed. My god, so much.
Do you ever stop and marvel at how flexible a marriage has to be, as two people move through the years together? You come together when you're in one stage of your life, and you go from there. We went from no responsibilities whatsoever to becoming the parents of two children. A million different successes celebrated along the way, a million seemingly impossible hurdles.
There is so much to be gained in a marriage, but something no one talks about is how there is loss, too. You lose the electricity of being with someone new. You lose that all-encompassing burn, the skip in your breath and the lurch in your belly. The dizzying ride slows down over time. You reach over, click on the seatbelt. It's safer, it's comfortable, but it's not quite like it used to be.
So a marriage must accommodate that change, too. The bond of marriage has to bend and stretch to keep pulling two people together, so matter where they are. It can't be neglected or it will start to fray. It can't be taken for granted or it may suddenly cease to exist. It has to stay strong as lives changes, bodies change, interests change, circumstances change.
We often focus on the miracle of parenthood, but wouldn't you say there's something equally miraculous about a good marriage? I think about the chances I had of meeting someone, falling in love, and embarking on this years-long journey together. Of ending up in such a different place from where we started, still holding strong. Of living every single day with my best friend, and creating two beautiful children together.
* * *
There's a rush of shouting and the kids are suddenly on us, joyously pulling back the covers, and in the brief moment before we let go of each other's hands and scramble out of bed, I am engulfed in noise and touch and laughter, chaos and craziness and pure love. This is our life now.