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Challenge: Keeping Love Alive

Love in the Age of Parenting Young Children

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My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, and we’ve had 6 kids in the last 7 years. Every day is a marathon, where we hope to just crawl across the finish line and collapse into bed. So right now, love isn’t big, romantic, make-me-swoon love. It’s tiny love, every day, in so many ways. It’s about helping out when I need it the most. It’s about seeing me—really seeing me—and knowing that I’m working so hard to raise kind, loving little people. It’s about being present and showing up to do the work every single day. In short, love, in the age of parenting young kids, means so much more than romantic dinners and gifts.

Here’s my list of what love really is in this crazy, small-kids season of life.

1. Love is picking up that perfect latte for me, because even though you hate fancy coffees, you appreciate that I simply cannot live without them. You know that they are the nectar of the gods for me.

2. Love is putting the entire crew to sleep so that I can go out with my girlfriends and catch up on very important conversations like the latest Real Housewives news.

3. Love is understanding that when I text you and ask, how’s it going, what I really mean is, when will you be home? Please say soon.

4. Love is understanding that I have to text my best friends and sisters every single day to share the highs and lows of the day. All 211 of them.

5. Love is sharing my hopes and fears about our kids. It’s about worrying whether the kids are nice to them on the playground and when the babies will hit their developmental milestones. It’s sharing the journey of parenting, even on the hardest of days, when it feels relentless.

6. Love is reminding me that I’m a good mom, when I’m feeling frazzled and fragile.

7. Love is cleaning out my goldfish-crusted, milk-soaked mini-van without prompting or complaint.

8. Love is ignoring the muffin top and all the extra pounds that have crept on with the arrival of each baby.

9. Love is texting that you’re at the store, what do we need. And waiting while I send you an enormous list of must-haves, including wine, wipes, milk, bananas, eggs, and a million other things.

10. Love is understanding that sometimes, I just. need. a. minute. Even if that minute is spent drinking a glass of wine while locked in the bathroom, talking to my best friend during a self-imposed time out.

11. Love is getting up to clean up the spilled drinks during dinner so that I can choke down my food.

12. Love is making me laugh until I cry about the most mundane, silly things.

13. Love is taking more than your share of turns to wipe bottoms and change diapers.

14. Love is ransacking the cupboards at 3 a.m. for eardrops that will make our daughter’s ear feel better.

15. Love is walking through the door and straight to the dishwasher because you know that I hate doing the dishes. And so every day, no matter what, you do the dishes, even if you’ve been up all night working.

16. Love is waiting in line forever for the balloon artist/fair ride/etc. because you know our girls are jumping out of their skin in excitement.

17. Love is saying “what can I do to help?” when you can sense there’s a lot to be done.

18. Love is appreciating our girls for who they are, and celebrating the funny, unique little people that they are, even when they’re different than you.

19. Love is laying with the big girls until the fall asleep, day after day.

20. Love is saying I’m sorry. A lot.

21. Love is sending me those funny parenting memes about the chaos of having toddlers who destroy everything.

22. Love is picking up on “The Look” I give you that means, jump in and help out.

23. Love is keeping up with the yard and planting new flowers every season, and letting the girls help you even though it will take you infinitely longer.

24. Love is pushing the kids on the swings and building sand castles in the sand until your hands and arms ache.

25. Love is our family, our kids—and all the joy, worry, laughter, fear, and work that come with it.

To my husband—I love you. There’s no one I’d rather do life with than you.

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