My husband and I just celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary this week. It's so cliche, but I don't know where the time went.
When I was in college, I never imagined that I would marry and have kids. I thought I'd be a super high flying career woman, traveling the world! I never dated anyone for longer than a few months until I met my husband when we were in our late twenties. I think it helps when you marry later; we both had our wild times before we met.
I think about the different phases of our marriage. First the newlywed years when we were madly in love and learning our way around each other. We worked a lot and traveled a lot; he had never left the continental US until our honeymoon in Hawaii and then we went to Spain and Paris before kids. I think I threw my birth control pills in the Seine as we started to try and get pregnant.
Then our first son, Billy arrived. I've always felt somewhat bad for the first child as it is the one parents are going through the steepest learning curve with. I remember the shocked look on my mom's face as she watched us give him his first bath. We were doing it in the kitchen, with the baby tub in the sink and for some reason, when we went to rinse the shampoo off his bald head, we were going to stick his head under the faucet! With truly admirable restraint, she stopped us and suggested that perhaps it might be easier to use the wash cloth to remove the shampoo. Then there was the shared anxiety of listening to his breathing on the monitor. Believe it or not, Billy slept through the night within his first week! But when it happened, we were panicked! We kept going in to check his breathing.
Then three and a half years later Bobby arrived. Just when we were feeling like pro's, we went from the two to one defense, to man to man coverage! Of course we thought we knew it all but everything we learned with our first son went out the window with the second. Sleep through the night? Not until he was six months old and I was heading back to work, did he finally bless us with a full night's sleep! Where as Billy didn't walk until he was 13 months, Bobby took off at 9 months. They were two completely different (though wonderful, of course) kids!
So we've spent twenty-two years in the hands-on parenting roles. We've had great adventures with the kids, through years of Quaker education and sports, showing them the world, as well as making time for ourselves. But now the house is empty of children. We are no longer defined as "Billy/Bobby's Mom or Dad". We are back to being a couple. And you know what? We love it! It is such a relief to come out the other side of raising kids, and realize that you still love your spouse. When the house has gone quiet, and it is just the two of you across the kitchen table, it is a wonderful thing when you still love talking to each other. We've known enough people where that hasn't been the case, so we feel very fortunate.
When I look at my husband, I see my best friend (with great benefits!). We don't share every interest, but we love being together. Vacations are a joy together. I plan, he follows but redirects when we need a midpoint correction. We are different in some ways: I explode, he stews; I'm the project manager, he's big picture and better on the fly. But we have our similarities as well: we are both outgoing, we are both fairly cautious, we are NOT outdoor adventurers. We complement each others quirks and traits. What more can you ask for?