I recently finished Rainbow Rowell's Landline, which was (in less than 40 words) a sweet, quirky book about a female comedy writer's marriage, and whether or not it's falling apart. In that book is this passage, which is the best description I've ever heard about what it's like to be married and have children, this part now, when you're down in the weeds and thick of it. Thanks. Ms. Rowell, for speaking to my soul again (see also: Eleanor & Park).
"Things didn't go bad between Georgie and Neal. Things were always bad --and always good. Their marriage was like a set of scales constantly balancing itself. And then, at some point, when neither of them was paying attention, they'd tipped so far over into bad, they'd settled there. Now only an enormous amount of good would shift them back. An impossible amount of good.
The good that was left between them didn't carry enough weight...
The kisses that still felt like kisses. The notes Neal stuck to the refrigerator when Georgie got home late. (A sleepy cartoon tortoise with a word bubble telling her there were leftover enchiladas on the bottom shelf.) Shared glances when one of the girls said something silly. The way Neal still put his arm around her when they all went to the movies. (He was probably just more comfortable that way.)
So much of what was still good between them was through Alice and Noomi --but Alice and Noomi were so solidly between them.
Georgie was pretty sure that having kids was the worst thing you could do to a marriage. Sure, you could survive it. You could survive a giant boulder falling on your head --that didn't mean it was good for you.
Kids took a fathomless amount of time and energy.... And they took it first. They had right of first refusal on everything you had to offer.
At the end of the day --after work, after trying to spend some sort of meaningful time with Alice and Noomi --Georgie was usually too tired to make things right with Neal before they fell asleep. So things stayed wrong. And the girls just kept giving them something else to talk about, something else to focus on....
Something else to love.
When Georgie and Neal were smiling at each other, it was almost always over Alice and Noomi's heads.
And Georgie wasn't sure she'd risk changing that ... even if she could.
Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you'd never want to. "