The End of Romance?

1.22.07: Beauty in the eye of the babe-holders


Will and I just had our first date in five months.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. Things just get so busy. And, our time together is what usually takes the back seat. (And not in one of those steamy, fogged-up-car-windows kinds of ways.)

This predates Charlie. From the moment his big sister arrived, there has been something bigger than us in our midst—something far greater than the sum of its parental parts. Still, the fact remains: I miss Will. Don't tell Julia and Charlie, butÂ…sometimes, I miss the life that Will and I had before we had kids. Granted, I haven't felt it quite as poignantly as I did in the first few months after Julia was born. When Julia came along, I knew that our lives were about to change drastically, but knowing it didn't prevent me from being totally thrown by it when it did happen.

Footloose and Fancy Free

Will and I spent the first five years of our marriage living so unfettered. We had hardly even opened our wedding presents when we stuck all of our wordly possessions in a storage unit and moved into a shoebox-sized seaside cottage for what we thought would be a summer jaunt. Four years later, we were still there, having the time of our lives. It was really nice, that time together. We had a busy social life. We read newspapers and—get this—whole books. We slept in. We cooked nice dinners. We cleaned our own house. We picked tomatoes in the garden. We had 3 a.m. bonfires with a close pack of friends and not a few six packs of beer. Some days, we did n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Four years later, we decided to downsize even more. We stuffed a few things into backpacks and hit the road for a year. It was exciting. It was romantic. It was, we knew, our last chance to do something like this for a long while. We called it our "Prenatal Tour," since we were planning to start a family as soon as the malaria pills made their way out of our bloodstreams.

Then, we had a baby. And, seemingly overnight, our lives changed. One of our travel backpacks, still with the kitschy "Chiang Mai, 2003" hand-painted across the front, was suddenly stocked with diapers and wipes—and man, it was heavy.

A New Kind of Romance

When Julia was just a few weeks old, our good friends John and Heather came by to meet the baby. The two of them were positively glowing, having just returned from a Saturday spent kayaking and sailing—newly in love, sun-kissed, rested, relaxed—the absolute picture of youth and vitality. (The photo above is the absolute picture of how I'd personally spent that same day.) I sat across from them on the couch, exhausted, feeling like a schlub in my unshowered state and elastic-waist clothes, taking a few guilty sips of my first half-glass of wine. Though we were toasting the truly amazing new gift in our lives, the truth is, I was jealous of their lives. I was longing for the nearly identical days we'd spent kayaking and sailing with them, thinking about what a production it had suddenly become just to leave the house, let alone spend the day kayaking. I missed my freedom. I missed my independence. I missed our old life. I missed getting to go to the bathroom when I needed to. I missed my husband. And, I didn't feel like I could tell him any of that.

You see, Will is a man who was born to have kids. He's the one at the family gatherings rolling around on the floor with the short people while the rest of the adults are sipping cocktails and chatting about interest rates. Sometimes I imagine him playing a little flute and walking around town with a trail of pipsqueaks behind him. Seriously. So, you can imagine how guilty I felt later that night as I sat on our bed and let it all spill out. After all, I was supposed to LOVE every minute of being a new mother. But there I was, holding Julia in my arms, confessing to Will how much I missed our old lives; how I missed us as a couple; how much I missed the spontaneity, the fun, the going out on a Saturday night, and the romance—how I missed the romance most of all. And—I kid you not—the man sat there, looked me up and down in my teary-eyed, greasy-haired, elastic-waisted, nursing bra'd state, and said: "Being here right now with you and Julia is one of the most romantic moments of my life."

And suddenly, it was. I was reminded—for what could possibly have been the millionth time since I met Will—why I married this man, and why I so desperately wanted to have his babies.

Join's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 1.29.07: The Day You Go to Work