All those years ago, when we were fresh-faced and starry-eyed newlyweds with all the time in the world, there were so many things about marriage and parenting, and marriage while parenting, that I just didn’t understand. I didn’t know date nights would be playing Stratego late at night and Sunday night movies. I had no idea we would eventually create our own language of sighs, groans, and giggles to be substituted for entire sentences so that without saying a word, we would know exactly what each other is trying to say. And I didn’t think it would be possible to miss you so much even though I see you every day.
But it is. And I do.
I miss you.
Even though we live under the same roof, share a bed and a life, and try like hell to get some alone time every now and then, there are days and weeks and months when life gets in the way. Either you’re working long hours or I’m working long hours, or we’re both working long hours. We’re busy parenting and adulting and taking care of all the things. Tiny little humans who call us Mom and Dad clamor for our time and attention. Bosses and clients and deadlines call to us from our computer screens. Parents, siblings, and friends need and deserve our attention as well. We are pulled in a million different directions by a million different things and by the end of the day, it is all we can do to not to fall asleep on the couch while watching five minutes of Jimmy Fallon.
We know that our marriage is at the center of this little family of ours, and so we do our best to make time for each other. We plan date nights and stay up late watching a movie together. We splurge on the occasional kid-free vacation — a night here or an indulgently long weekend there. We “talk” via text and emails throughout the day. We check in with quick “how’s your day going?” and send each other silly memes on the days when the other could use a pick-me-up. We’ve learned to make not just the hours, but the minutes, count.
And still, there are times when I miss you.
There are days when I miss the long conversations about everything and nothing at all. When I miss lazy Sunday mornings in bed. When I miss being able to start a sentence and finish that same sentence without tiny voices interrupting us with “Guess what, Dad?” and “Mom, can I have…” When I miss taking the train home from work together and reading books together and going out for brunch together.
There are days when I miss seeing you and touching you and breathing the same air as you. When I miss knowing the simple details of your day, like what you ate for lunch and how long your commute took. When I miss the sound of your laugh.
There are days when I miss you.
You spend long hours doing hard and good work to provide for and take care of our family. You answer client emails and lead conference calls. You write legal documents and stand before judges in a courtroom. You put out fires and fight the good fight. And then you run to catch the commuter train so you can watch the second half of our son’s baseball game. You play with our younger son and ask him about his day. You spend a few hours breaking up fights and reminding the kids to brush their teeth, before sitting down in front of the computer for a couple more hours of work after the bedtime routine is finally done.
I, too, spend long hours doing hard and good work to provide for and take care of our family. I shuffle kids to school and the swimming pool and eye doctor appointments, fitting in work obligations between it all. I help with homework and check backpacks and remind the kids to brush their teeth, before sitting down in front of the computer for a couple more hours of work after the bedtime routine is finally done.
We are both doing hard and good work to provide for and take care of our family in our own ways.
Sometimes it feels like there are cosmic forces at work trying to keep us from spending too much time together. Just when life settles down in your world, it heats up in mine. Or vice versa. One weekend I’m out of town, and then you’re out of town, and then family comes to visit. Just when the two of us seem to have things under control, some kind of emergency or last minute social plans will flip life upside-down again.
None of this is unique to us. This is, after all, what it means to be an adult, to be a parent, and to be a spouse. We are surrounded by people clamoring for our time and attention. We are pulled in a million different directions. We are asked to be everything to everyone. And as much as we want to focus on each other, as much as we need to be each other’s one and only, sometimes doing what is right for the family and the tiny humans who call us Mom and Dad take priority.
And we miss each other.
But maybe the missing each other isn’t a bad thing. Maybe the missing each other is actually a good thing?
It is in the missing you that I remember the passion and romance of those fresh-faced and starry-eyed days. It is in the missing you that I become acutely aware once again of how much I need you. It is in the missing you that I know without a doubt how much you love and care for our children and our family. It is in the missing you that I am reminded that you are still my one and only.
So until the next date night, the next stolen kiss, the next movie night — until the next long weekend away, the next indulgent vacation, the next snuggle on the couch… Until then, I will miss you because I love you — even more than when we were fresh-faced and starry-eyed newlyweds with all the time in the world.