Pre kids, me and Rob lived in London (Fulham dontcha know). I often bought beautiful clothes from All Saints and we used to meet up on the South Bank after work for date nights and go to dead fancy restaurants.
Post kids, we live in Whitley Bay. I often buy very mediocre clothes from Sainsbury’s and we sometimes get takeaways… as long as we feel confident we can stay awake long enough to eat them.
Pre kids, we used to have long lie ins on a Sunday, go for a run along the Thames then have a delicious brunch at our local cafe (I don’t know who the frig we thought we were).
Post kids, we get up at an ungodly hour every Sunday - pretty much the middle of the night. Then we run ourselves ragged getting the kids to whatever football related activities they have to be at, then we go to The Harvester and try to make the buggers eat something (anything) whilst crying ‘we brought this on ourselves’ tears into our free re-fill salad bowls.
Pre kids, we were best friends who laughed at each other’s jokes and snogged the faces off each other without any alcohol being needed to facilitate physical contact.
Post kids we are more like wardens in a young offenders’ unit. Not colleagues as such; since we are so rarely on the same shift pattern. We mainly just give each other quick handover notes with minimal eye contact:
‘Prisoner A stole Prisoner B’s Match Attacks. In response, Prisoner B staged a dirty protest. Prisoner C’s hunger strike is ongoing.’
Our communal family life is run with military precision now. The ultimate crime I can commit in my marriage is to not put something on the calendar then expect I’ll still be able to do it. Putting shit on the calendar is one of Robs stay-sane rules.
Pre kids, I don’t think we used to really argue… or if we did it was that type of argument that ended up with you laughing, then necking on a bit, then forgetting all about it.
Post kids, the arguments can be lethal. Monufuckingmental. Especially in the first year of a new baby. The worst rows are the ones in the middle of the night which could usually be boiled down to a much shorter exchange along the lines of:
Man: I have to go to work in the morning, you’ll have to get up and see to that screaming child. Woman: That’s right. You get to go to work tomorrow you lucky, lucky bastard.
I have lost count of the number of times we have dropped the c-bomb on each other during those 3am moments (and I ain’t talking about cuddles folks). If that particular word was uttered in daylight hours we’d be off to the divorce courts…but for some reason in the middle of the night; yep go for it; in for a penny, in for a pound.
Life with three kids is nothing short of RELENTLESS. Incessant and ever increasing tasks and chores all whilst answering Jonah’s non-stop questions on whatever he is obsessing over that week. His current area of interest is the ‘pwofessional’ dancers on Strictly. (Previous specialist subjects have been Cwistiano Wonaldo’s surrogate-produced offspring and jobs Ed Sheeran might have done before he was a pop star.)
By the time it is 7.30pm and all three kids are finally in bed, real grownup married life can resume. We can light a candle and cook a lovely meal together, me chopping and Rob stirring, whilst talking about our day and really deeply listening to what the other person is saying.
OR, we can walk round like zombies tidying up mountains of toys and clothes before I suddenly run out of battery and lie face-down on the playroom rug muttering; ‘I’m so tired. My hair is tired. My nails are tired. I am BONE TIRED.’ As you can see, I’m not a dramatic type of person; I take life pretty much in my stride, catching the curve balls as they come.
For those of you without kids who are reading this thinking, ‘that sounds fucking hideous, pass me an elastic band so I can tie my own tubes this very second!’, let me reassure you. It IS hideous… but only a little bit. Parts of it are absolutely glorious. And every now and again (about every six months) one of the kids does something so heart-melting; me and the hubs just look at each other and there’s this gorgeous fuzzy moment where you think your heart might burst with happiness and you realise all the insanity is worthwhile… The moment passes fairly quickly to be honest but it’s ok; only another six months til it comes around again eh!?
Rob is much better than I am at remembering to say and do nice things to keep the old marital harmony in-tact. He tells me almost every morning that I look ‘well fit’, which is so sweet but also such a massive lie… because until I get my slap on I look like the ‘Get off my traaaiiiinnn!’ guy from the film Ghost.
But Rob, bless him, still says it and that’s what counts.
And on the rare night out we have together we are usually surprised at how much we do actually still like each other. How much we still laugh at each other’s shit jokes. Although one of us inevitably gets our phone out and we end up watching videos of the kids (what is wrong with us!? Are we masochists!?).
So Robbie, on this, our tenth wedding anniversary I want to say thank you for our fabulous mental chaotic messy life together.
I do still love you, more than ever in fact, I’m just too exhausted to bang on about it (have I mentioned I’m tired?).
We’ll have some lovely quality time together once they’re all off at university ok? So… September 2035? Does that work for you? I’ll make sure it’s on the calendar.