We recently returned from a simple beach vacation with family. Long, lazy days by the beach, pool, or ice cream stand and nights by a fire-pit. For me, it was a snapshot into the idealized American summer.
One dark night after the kids had gone to bed, J. and I snuck out to listen to some music. We walked along the beach and found ourselves by the local fire-pit. We held hands while singing along to various renditions of Eagles and Bob Marley songs. In front of us sat families with older kids, making s’mores in the fire, and cuddling with the parents.
And I gotta admit – it was really REALLY nice. It was nice to imagine what our family may look like in a few years time; and it was nice to see different families enjoying the simplicity of a few songs, a moonlit night, and roasted marshmallows together. No technology, no lights, no board walks, no roller-coasters. Just the simple fire, a dessert, a singer and a guitar.
So imagine my surprise when I was lulled out of my fire-induced coma when the singer (a Bob-Marly wanna-be) looked straight at J. and myself and declared:
Bob Marley wanna-be: “You two, man. I’ve been looking at you all night. You are SO in LOVE! Look at HER, man. SING to her!”
Me: I’m sorry, are you talking to us?
Bob Marley wanna-be: “LOOK AT HER, MAN!” “SING TO HER” “I”LL ALWAYS LOVVVVEEE YOUUU” (proceeds to sing)
J: still laughing, but now looking at me.
Me: he really can’t be talking to us, right? I mean. Really? And is there any way I can sneak away from this fire-pit? Looking around into darkness, trying to plan an exit strategy.
Bob Marley wanna-be (still singing) “One day, man, I’m going to be as in love as you two are!!”
This goes on for a while. We are awkwardly laughing, waiting for it to end. And it finally does. They move onto singing something a bit more upbeat. And a few songs later we quietly sneak away.
This whole embarrassing escapade got me thinking about love and the simple life.
Why was I so astonished that he thought J. and I looked in love? I mean, yes, we were sitting by the fire. Yes, we were holding hands. But most days I feel like we are a million miles away from the romantic “in love” of 10 years ago.
Love changes when we become parents. It grows bigger, better, and more fuller to accommodate all the difficulties life throws at us. It’s not easy or constant. We work at it all the time. It’s damn hard. It’s not a simple love-song by the fire-pit. And frankly, that’s ok with me. I think we moved from “in love” to “love” a long time ago.
And our marriage (like most marriages of people we know) is egalitarian, committed, and focused on children. We are jointly dedicated to raising our children AND creating satisfying lives for ourselves. That’s a lot on our plate. So romantic love? Where does that fit in? When do we find time to sing to each-other, Bob-Marley-Style without texting on our iphones?
I’m not sure I have an answer. However, after my immediate awkwardness with the situation, I decided that I was glad that it was clear that I love my husband. That’s a good thing, no matter where we are in our relationship. And I’m glad I can imagine sitting with our older princesses 5-10 years from now near that same fire-pit. Them enjoying the same music we did.
And if every once in a while, between diaper changes and school runs, work trips and ballet recitals we get to hold hands – well that’s pretty good too.