Looking back at photographs from just a few years ago it’s clear how much we’ve both changed. We’re so old now. My hair is flecked with grey throughout and your face is etched with the faintest wrinkles, both testaments to the gauntlet of parenting we’ve been running for the last two years.
I remember in the early days of our relationship how I’d wake up before you and silently reapply my make up, subtly of course, so I’d look as pretty as possible for you when you woke. I’d slip back under the covers and pretend to be asleep, knowing you’d soon stir, turn to me, kiss me gently and whisper, “you’re so beautiful.” Our world was full of little fantasies we had time and space to cultivate – every sight, taste and smell could be planned in advance, every glance through perfectly styled hair expertly performed. Every moment our hands touched could freeze time because there was so damned much of it.
These days I rarely wear make up and at the moment we don’t even share a bed. You’ve seen me bleach my upper lip and go without shaving. You even walked in on my midwife giving me an enema when I was in labour with our son. We talk over Facebook Messenger when one of us is on the toilet, and our conversations are more likely to be along the lines of, “What are we doing for dinner tonight?” and, “We need more bin liners in the next shop,” than, “Let’s go out to an expensive bar on a work night and fondle each other until it makes the clientèle uncomfortable!”
I want for all the world to throw myself into our relationship with the kind of abandon that led us this far, but while I am still the girl who became the woman who became your wife, I am also a mother, and the two are not always compatible. I can’t switch motherhood off. I am changed down to my bones by the boy we both love so much. But inside there is still a little fire burning quietly, a fire that’s alive with my youth and passions, a fire that yearns for freedom, romance, sex, and metaphorical wind on my face without the knot of responsibility that made itself at home in my gut as soon as our son was born. It yearns for you. It yearns for us singing together in the dark at 3am, eating out just because, sleeping in til midday, hopping in the car and driving nowhere and everywhere with the windows down. You and me so full of passion we believed we could set the world alight with it.
I haven’t forgotten us. I’m still your lover and your friend. I still get butterflies when I hear your key in the front door and my heart is always calmer when you’re near. I love how your body and face has changed since you became a father, as though you wear your strength and knowledge like armour. I sneak a quick look at you when you get dressed in the morning and I feel the same girlish lust I felt in my early 20s (I sometimes catch you doing the same) and your kisses, though more rare, still send electricity to my toes.
I wrestle with my individuality and my role as a mother, but I know that you do too. Fatherhood defines so much of who you are and what you do now, and you’re tremendous at it. I’ve never known a man more dedicated to his family than you are. I know how it feels to worry that you’re losing yourself in the day-to-day and the 9-5, in the bathtimes and snacktimes and nappy changes. I know that you miss your time spent exercising, gaming or recording music. I know you miss having me to yourself. I know you miss your solitude.
We created something beautiful in our son, and in less than six weeks we’ll meet the latest member of our little family. Life will explode in chaos again and it might be harder to connect for a while. The time we once had so much of will disappear before our eyes as our children grow far too quickly and our grey hairs and wrinkles shower us like confetti.
But before we jump back in to the swirling vastness of new parenthood I want you to know I still see you. I see your fire blazing just like mine, two beacons on a stormy horizon. I see you every day, the boy who became the man who became my husband, and I love you beyond words.
And if we keep shining we’ll always find each other, no matter how rough the waves become.
your wife and friend, Lindy xx