This month husband J. and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. On the big date, he was out of town at a conference – in fact, out of town for the entire week, leaving me to monoparent for seven days. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder, or at least more appreciative. I held it together for the week, but it was exhausting.
I missed his help with the kids, I missed his easy-going, play-it-as-it-lays approach to life (which nicely balances my more anxiety-ridden, when-is-the-other-shoe-going-to-drop approach), and most of all I missed him: that tall handsome guy I fell in love with almost twenty years ago.
My gift to him was a redecoration of our bedroom, including a new wall color of deep, warm brown (it’s like being inside a chocolate bar), luxurious bedding (downside: neither of us want to get up in the morning), and lighting by which you can actually read. I wanted a romantic room that wasn’t too girly, a room that suited both my taste and his, and – perhaps most of all – a haven to which we can retreat when the kids go to bed at night.
You know – an ADULT room. No sand in the bed. No toys on the floor. No crayons or markers allowed, and no sticky hands with attendant handprints on the walls. I resisted the urge to put a “No Kids Allowed” sign on the door. That seems a little mean-spirited, no? A little petty? So – no sign. But in my mind I’m thinking, “No way can the kids come in here.”
I’m not unreasonably strict about it. We do have some family snuggle time on weekend mornings, when we all pile into bed. The kids are at least relatively clean, having had baths the night before. It’s for a finite amount of time: everyone is going to get hungry and wander off to the kitchen before too long. But as soon as the room is empty, I pull the door shut, lock it with a giant brass key, and intone threateningly to any child who dares approach, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
It’s not just a room, but a state of mind: a private space for us in the midst of Casa Chaos. It’s a place where we can remember who we used to be pre-kids, and forget the cares of the day (like, why can’t J. ever put a new stick of butter in the butter dish? It’s like he needs a GPS for the interior of the refrigerator. Honey, go north 14 inches, make a slight left and open the clear plastic door to the compartment that has ALWAYS HOUSED THE BUTTER).
Ahem…yes. A place where we can put all that aside and enjoy a little peace and quiet, together, alone, where there is no butter dish. Unless that’s what you’re into.