Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

May 21, 2001

Celebrating our leather anniversary

Before Adam and I had Lucy, we did everything together. We worked together, commuted together, ate together and ignored the dust bunnies mating under the sofa together.

It was ridiculous. Out of 24 hours a day, we were at each other’s side for at least 20. I am crazy about my husband, so I really loved it. But I can see how that much together time breeds a little insanity.

That said, there were certain activities we never shared. Adam never pumiced my heels or tweezed my eyebrows. I never offered to spray his feet with fungicide, no matter how many opportunities arose. Also, Adam put his pants on; I put my pants on — never each other’s. Not on purpose, anyway.

Until I got pregnant, this was a foundation for a happy marriage.

And then, toward the fat and bitter end, Adam had to start tying my shoes. I couldn’t see my feet, let alone bend and commune with them.

Because my one pair of slip-ons was starting to stink with the summer heat, I decided it was necessary to cross over the last remaining boundary of independence. It’s not as if I was violating our prenuptial agreement and asking him to do something really out of line, like cleaning the toilet.

Somehow, though, our marriage survived. And, as they say, turnabout is fair play.

Just last week, Adam had to ask me to help him put on his belt. The reason? Lucy. He was holding her, and she is now so big and mighty, it takes two hands to keep her from launching herself onto the ground. Whatever the reason, though, I was happy to return the favor. I’ll take dignity wherever I can find it. You have to, when you go out in public with Cheerios stuck to your rear end.

Later that night, Adam came home and said, “I learned something about myself today.”

Curious, I asked for detail. Adam is far more likely to talk about comic books than personal growth, and I was having a hard time keeping Wolverine and Dr. Xavier straight.

It was the belt, he said. He’d threaded it through his loops the same direction all his life. And I had done it the opposite way, giving him a trouble every time he had to unbuckle it.

A more insecure person than I am might wonder what her husband was doing unbuckling his belt all day long. Was it all the free soda at work? Or was it something else? Someone else? I don’t need to wonder these things, not when Adam has easy access to all that Fresca.

Instead, what I started thinking about is the habits that we have — things we don’t even notice until something changes. Then, all of the sudden, we can’t do the things the way we’ve always done them, no matter how comfortable it is.

Before Adam and I had Lucy, we were so comfortable. We worked just a few steps from each other, so we could legitimately visit several times a day. Our hour-long commute was fun, because we had each other to talk to. Our condo was pretty messy, but it didn’t matter because we were never there. Also, we had a maid come every other week to prevent serious funk build-up — this was our first anniversary gift to each other.

Adam and I never fought. Ever. I can’t even remember disagreeing about anything, except about the fact that olives taste good. Adam is a baby on that count, and chicken cacciatore is not as good without olives, no matter what he says.

I used to marvel, sometimes, at how easy marriage was. Mom was crazy to have told me otherwise all these years, I thought.

Having Lucy has changed everything. Forget about the messed-up belt loop. Having a baby has been like having shoes on our hands. Everything is that much harder to do. And I finally am starting to understand why, for most people, marriage requires more effort than deciding whether to have pizza or lasagna for dinner.

Adam and I have gone out on two dates without Lucy since she was born nearly nine months ago. During our first date, we looked at each other over our plates of chicken and fish and blinked.

Here is how the date went:

“Wonder how Lucy is doing?” “Probably fine.” “But maybe she’s not.” “OK, let’s go home.”

On our second date, we did a little bit better. “Lucy wouldn’t like these chairs.” “No.” “The salad is too spicy for her.” “Think she’s sleeping?” “Let’s go find out.”

Last Saturday night, Lucy was in bed by 8 p.m., and we had a rare opportunity to have a conversation, maybe share a glass of wine or watch a romantic movie. Instead, we watched the video of Lucy’s first six months. “She was so tiny.” “Yes. Tiny.” “And her legs.” “Yes, tiny.”

And it’s not just that all of our conversations revolve around Lucy. At my last checkup, my doctor asked about birth control. “I’m using the barrier method,” I said. “Lucy sleeps between us.”

It’s pathetic. Yesterday was our third anniversary. It’s the “leather anniversary,” I learned while pondering gift ideas.

This is just cruel. Leather is the stuff that sexy pants and whips are made of. When you have a new baby, though, leather is one of those things that go on the “see you in 10 years list.” It’s right out. You’re too fat for the pants, too tired for the whip, and too scared of grape juice for the furniture, jacket or car upholstery.

The third year of marriage, at least for people with small children, should be celebrated with that chewy rubber that binkies are made out of. This is something people like us have some use for.

That said, we did get fairly close to a wild-and-crazy leather experience during our anniversary dinner. We parked in front of a sex hall in Seattle’s Pike Place Market district. It wasn’t the Lusty Lady, the famous sleaze establishment with very clever and naughty puns. (“We’d like to spank the Academy” appeared at Oscar time. Hah!)

Rather, the place we parked was quite a bit more downscale, with window displays that would have left Lucy hungry.

These days, though, I’ll take it. True romance isn’t about leather, sweat, or even the hilarity of suggestive puns.

It’s something you know you’ve got when you can look at your baby chasing down a Cheerio on the carpet, and she looks so much like her Dad, you can’t help but think about him, even when he’s running a business meeting like the ones you no longer attend.

True romance is having someone to help you through the 1:30 a.m. tearfests. It’s having someone let you sleep in while he plays with the baby. It’s having a friendship that stays strong and exciting, even when everything changes around it.

If someone had told me three years ago what my life would be like today, I might have run away rather than face the mess and chaos. But this is why we can’t see the future, because most of us aren’t wise enough to know how much joy comes with the struggle.

It’s during the best of times and the worst of times that I find myself with one thought, eclipsing all the rest: I am so glad I have someone to share this with, and so glad that person is Adam.


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