It’s 7 o’clock. The baby is sleeping. He has his beer and I have a drink, most likely whiskey with a bit of Coke. He studies. I read or watch TV. We tease, we touch, we laugh and sometimes bicker about annoyance that still linger years later. But we both know what’s coming. The baby’s bedtime has become our playtime. A time to sneak away, to learn one another, to be uninhibited and to love.
Our first baby came late into our marriage. Our marriage bed had always been pleasant and I would have said great at the time. We knew each other well and I expected nothing to change after the baby came. Or, after the adjustment to the baby came, women talk and I knew it would take some time for things to get back to normal. No one ever mentioned that it, sex, could get better.
The first 3 months of baby were not pleasant for me, far from it and our relationship was rightly second place. It was shocking, becoming a mother, and the sleepless nights were torture. I began to think, like most new moms, that life was over, I would never sleep again and my body was ruined. But slowly, in time, sleep returned and eventually a somewhat reliable bedtime. And with that bedtime hour came freedom.
I look at him. The shared time that has passed only shows by the wrinkles around his eyes when he smiles. I see them often these days. No stretch marks shine on his athletic legs and hips. His belly didn’t soften with extra weight but remains firm. His hips haven’t widened with the entrance of our son into the world. I often look at him and can’t believe he is mine. His beauty isn’t lost on me. I enjoy it.
I look at me. I see ten extra pounds. I see stretch marks and wider hips. But, if I look at him looking at me, I know without doubt that I am beautiful. His eyes aren’t shy. His hands appreciate the extra. He whispers in my ear, “you’re more beautiful now than when I married you.” and I believe him, my whole body believes him. He is the only man I want to please.
I am proud of this body. I often look at my stomach and can’t believe there was once a human growing inside. It’s shocking that our son entered the world through my body. Age and experience have turned my eyes from the constant wishful want of youthful beauty to a great appreciation of womanly form. I now have such confidence in it’s strength and a knowledge of it’s power. I only close my eyes and see the pride in his eyes as he looks at me, the tears he shed with his first glimpse of our son, the strength of his hands as I trembled in exhaustion and the soft “thank you” whispered in a tender embrace. I can accept with boldness all that this body can give and all that I can receive knowing that it is wonderfully made as a woman.
Sometimes, it’s 10 o’clock, I yawn and tell him I’m off to bed hoping he’ll follow. Some days we text subtle innuendo all day long and a sleeping baby can’t come soon enough. Occasionally, we fight and go to bed angry but by 1 am no one can sleep until loving resolution has been made. One time I’m invited by a kiss and wandering hands or I request with sideways glance and a smile that he doesn’t miss. We know each other. We savor our time alone when there are only two of us in the world. We hold one another and wish we could never leave this place of attained familiarity. I kiss those eye wrinkles when he smiles at me. I store away memories of exactly how he smells, how his beard tickles my cheek, and how his lips feel on mine. I don’t ever want to forget. God gave me such a gift and it is better every day.