There’s a secret between us. Yet it’s no secret at all. It is loudly spoken by the way he looks at me, the notes he leaves me, and most definitely by the five children who grace our lives.
Our love was strong from the start. Yet its strength was like that of a seed: its full potential unknown until put into the right environment. After four years of waiting, we were given perfect freedom, wrapped in holiness, that first night so long ago. What was once forbidden was now ours to hold. Each, the other’s, to have and to hold, til death do us part.
Nine months later, a sweet darling baby blessed us. I struggled with the holding on part, and slowly he grew farther from me. He no longer had all of me. I felt needed and needy, exhilarated by new life and exhausted by it too. I was leaking tears and breast milk, of practically equal amounts. And as I held this child, I didn’t realize he was drifting farther from my arms. Fear gripped my body, mind, and soul and I closed out the very thought of ever experiencing pleasure again. I was forgetting: he was my husband first.
A few months later, the distance was breached. Our secret, though dangerously close to ruin, was restored and renewed. Trust replaced fear. We had become as blue and yellow, independent of each other. Now our bed melded back into a beautiful shade of green. Our discordant solos became one unified symphony again. It took me awhile to truly grasp: children should never replace the love, care and attention we give to our husband. I’m told one day our children grow up, and am starting to believe it. They are not given to make strangers of us or dull us, but rather to sharpen and enhance what has already begun.
Exhaustion is real, I know. It is not an eternal excuse, however. We miss sleep for football games, favorite television shows, another chapter of our book, and an extra cup of coffee. Can we not sacrifice sleep for love?
Often I forget to make our bed. The past couple of days, a little small fairy, with one missing tooth, has secretly been making our bed and tidying our room. I think of her humming little self, smoothing back the covers and fluffing the pillows. Deep in her heart she knows how much we love each other. This messy bed speaks of love and togetherness. Its crumpled sheets hold a secret. I’m never ashamed they should know. The time one of them barged in, because sometimes love has no schedule and can’t wait for candlelight and quiet, I was embarrassed but not ashamed. He declared he was NEVER getting married, and we laughed to ourselves and held on to our secret.
Tired mamas, hold on to your man. Don’t replace him with your baby, your phone, your mother, or your wallet. Nurture him, because he’s hungry too. He’s hungering for you. When you become unavailable until an undisclosed date, he may eventually feed his soul, mind and body at some other source. I know you feel needed every. single. moment. of. every. day. I know you feel about as undesirable as a week-old hoagie. I know you sometimes feel like you don’t belong in your skin. I know you bear the marks of motherhood in so many places and in so many ways. I really get how a hoodie and stretchy pants are the outfit of choice these days. I understand how the thought of making sandwiches crosses your mind much more frequently than the thought of making love. I totally understand.
Yet I implore you to safeguard this secret with your life. Never share it with another. Always, always, whisper it frequently to each other.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised.
-Song of Solomon 8:6-7