My husband and I have three kids, ages eight, four, and two. We have ball practices, games, play dates, after-school activities, and every other possible thing that could keep our young family busy. I often wonder why I sign us up for all this crap these extracurricular activities, but I do, and no amount of self-loathing and not sleeping in on Saturday morning will remind me not to do it again next year.
It’s so difficult to connect with my husband these days, and what I mean by connect is to make eye contact and have meaningful conversations. Okay, not even meaningful conversations – more like completing sentences about what we should have for dinner without our children interrupting to ask for more Cheerios or why those dogs are giving each other piggy-back rides.
Real connection isn’t easy, even when we are so connected by social media notifications that we fail to stop fully at stop signs and are pulled over and given warnings from the nice police officer. Or is that just me?
For a while, I had these friends, a married couple, who would send cutesy messages to each other every single day via Facebook for all the world to see. I showed this insanity to my husband, loudly claiming, “That is so weird! Haven’t they ever heard of text messages? Why would they want everyone to see that?!?”
“I dunno. I think it’s sweet,” said Mr. Romantic who has not bought me flowers since 2007.
Um, excuse me? I couldn’t possibly let go of the fact that my husband, the least cheesy person on the planet, approved of “Hey baby! You were so cute this morning! Have an awesome day, Snuggle Bear!” I think I just threw up in the cup-holder of my SUV. Don’t worry, fellow car line parents, someone just said “Snuggle Bear” on Facebook. I’ll be okay.
“Don’t get me wrong,” the husband says. “I would never go there. But if that’s how they want to connect with each other, then we shouldn’t judge them on that. Maybe they didn’t get to talk at breakfast like we did.”
Isn’t someone all non-judgey and diplomatic?
But somehow, usually when I least expect it, my husband manages to squeeze my hand three times. We could be in church, or at home on the couch, or sitting in the stands at one of our kids’ ballgames together, and there it is . . . My silent signal, three little hand squeezes.
We’ve been married for nine years, together for I-can’t-remember-because-I’m-the-mother-of-three-and-I’m-exhausted, but with each squeeze, my heart gives a little flutter.
However small they are, those three squeezes mean everything to me. They mean, “I. Love. You.” I send back four squeezes, “I love you, too,” to my husband, who isn’t the flower-giving, romantic-declaration-on-social-media-giving kind. He gives me a quick sideways glance, a wink, a silent affirmation that, in the midst of whatever we’re doing, he loves me, and I love him, and we are always connected.
He gave me three squeezes when we faced each other to take our vows. I gave him three squeezes when we buried his dad last year. We have squeezed three times holding pregnancy tests and newborn babies and in doctors’ offices and while watching our kids play in the backyard and just about every night as we’re falling asleep after another long day.
Three squeezes is the way we connect. Our secret code is there when words aren’t.
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