June 09, 2011
By Jacey Eckhart
Brad had been home from deployment about a week when the accusations came thick and fast. “You take all his time!”
“You have all the fun!”
“You just want to be alone!”
The accusations weren’t coming from Brad. Or me. The accusations were flying thick and fast from our kids—21, 17 and 9. They thought they should be allowed to skip school and go down to Virginia Beach with us for a change of command. And spend the night at the oceanfront.
Not because of school. Who cares about school in the face of the awesome truth that Mommies and Daddies need time alone. Together. In a hotel room. Without kids.
The more I tried to justify this to the kids, the more the kids looked at me like I was a wanton hussy in strappy gold pumps preying on their beloved-- if somewhat naïve-- papa.
“They aren’t gonna get it, J,” Brad told me, as our daughter tucked a big bag o’guilt into the back seat and slammed the car door.
But I wanted them to get it. I needed them to get it. “Do they really think happily-ever-after just grows around the edges of a life?” I asked Brad plaintively. “ Like grass? Like weeds? Do they think this is easy?”
Brad just laughed. It is easy for him. It is easy for them. Because I am the mom around here. I am the one who knows that two people building a life together need time alone. Apart. Away. Really, really away. Away from interruption. Away from hurry sickness. Away from the constant to do list that is a marriage.
I’m the one who knows that intimacy—not solely sexual intimacy, but that kind of intimacy that makes people feel deeply heard and loved and appreciated—doesn’t happen just because you tell it to. I know I can’t say to my husband, “OK. Babe, Kelsey is at a party, Sam is cruising the McDonalds drive thru, Peter is in the tub. We have 11 minutes. Intimacy--go!”
I know it takes time to unwind into that place. I know that the driving is easier when we listen to a mystery on CD in the car. I know enough to be the one to check into the hotel since Brad would rather be the car parker. I know enough to allow him the luxury of a nap, to walk down the beach on my own, to pick a place for dinner that is close by. That night when the setting sun made the sand glow pink the way it does on Virginia Beach, the two of us were sitting under an umbrella having a beer and talking about the things we haven’t had a chance to talk about in months. We bought ice cream cones and watched the families come back from the beach dragging toys and toddlers all covered with sand.
We love our kids. We love that our daughter is home from college and that Brad is home from sea so that we are five again. Five plates at the dinner table. Five seatbelts in the car. Five heads on five pillows. There is pleasure in that, satisfaction, contentment. And yet….and yet there is something about the delight of two. Just two. Only two. Table for two. Two sets of feelings. Two seats on the boardwalk. Two people making a life together one word at a time.