"MARRIED!" my daughter shouted from the top of her lungs across the kitchen. Startled, I backed away from my wife, whom I'd been kissing. We looked at each other, laughed and then looked at Ava.
"Why are you screaming MARRIED like some sort of lunatic?", I asked.
She looked dumbfounded -- and thrilled -- "Because you kissed mommy and now you're married!" She skipped -- literally skipped -- out of the room.
My wife and I looked at each other and chuckled. It's funny how innocent kids can be.
I'll admit it: Three kids in five years will throw even the best of relationships into a tailspin -- add into it new jobs, cross-country moves, medical issues, new babies and family tragedy and even the strongest of bonds are tested. My wife and I have had our share of challenges and certainly ups and downs when it comes to the romance side of our relationship (see: (Co)Sleeping With the Enemy), but we love each other and are dedicated to the family we've built.
It never dawned on me that in the daily grind of this thing called LIFE, I was letting the minutiae and stress of my day get in the way of showing my wife how much I love and appreciate her. Just by kissing.
When I think about it, my daughter's entire idea of marriage up until this point has been from Disney-created animation scenes of princesses kissing their princes at the altar. I never put two and two together and realized she didn't know her mom and I were actually married as well.
In some ways, it's opened my eyes.
Jen and I have always kissed -- but we haven't been intentional about doing it in front of the kids. I pinch her caboose from time to time and we certainly hug, but we never did it so our children would see it -- if it was the by-product, so be it, but it wasn't the intention. I mean, perhaps the butt cheek grab isn't the classiest thing, but oh well, we've all got our own different ways to show affection. I guess I'm what they consider "hands on."
On the eve of my 40th birthday this week, I'm beginning to think about a lot of... stuff; life, love, mortality. Perhaps the biggest gift that I can give to my kids is to love their mother forever. They're going to grow up and leave the house, find spouses of their own and (if my wife has anything to say about it) have handfuls of kids (i.e. grandkids). At the end of the day I want them to know how much I love their mom.
I want them to see me touch her, caress her, hug her, take care of her. I want them to see me make time for her, to listen to her, to cherish her (and all her millions of opinions that piss me off half of the time).
I want my boys to understand and learn respect for a woman and how to be sensitive and caring and appropriate (this could be the death of the butt grabs).
I want Ava to understand what to expect from a man, how she should demand to be treated and why love is simple and pure and that love is safe. Nothing more, nothing less.
And with all of these revelations I've had this week, I've decided to pick up the frequency of the kissing. Here I am, kissing my wife.
Good morning, thank you, goodbye, hello, good night. I want them to see those moments and find comfort and security in them. And maybe, just maybe, this little act will make a big impression on our little ones -- in a much larger way than we ever expect.