“Do you think anyone can tell?” I ask.
My thoughts drift back to my first pregnancy–when new worlds were being created on the inside–of me. I walked around school wondering how it was possible that none of my teaching colleagues could tell–while equally fearing that someone would see through me.
It was the same now. As Casey and I drove back toward the shore to retrieve our boys, it was hard to grasp that there was no tangible sign of our blessing.
After 15 years in the narrow trenches of parenting, we just scored our first serious getaway alone–5 nights, 6 days–without the kids! Just saying it makes my eyes spin–like we won the lottery. Somebody pinch me.
But shouldn’t there be some outward sign–or at least some dramatic inward sign–that we received such a gift?
“Do you feel different at all?” I ask, as we sit in city traffic. “Do you think we should?”
My husband of twenty years isn’t as concerned about finding some evidence of our time together. He is simply happy–happier than he’s been in a long, long time.
I continue to be on the look out at for proof that this has meant something–that it will mean something–beyond the delight of our days and nights alone. But the signs are subtler than I expect: Softness maybe. Lightness of heart. Ease of connection.
In the first moments of becoming parents, again, I ask our boys if they missed us. Our teenager is eager to reply: “No,” he says, “But I’m happy to see you again.”
“I feel the same,” I say. “But Dad really missed you guys.”
It’s strange not to miss your own kids–especially if you’re the primary caregiver. But I do delight in seeing them again–and I notice a “softer” connection between all of us. Ties, less taut.
That first day “back,” we shared a meal with my sister’s family. After dinner, I felt someone come up behind me and wrap his arms around my waist, resting a head on my shoulder.
It was my son! (The teenager.)
My husband’s eyes locked with mine across the kitchen as we absorbed the message: We are newly appreciated–and not only by each other.
For days, I received spontaneous embraces like this from both my boys. And almost two weeks later, my 9 year old still falls into my arms several times a day.
It was just yesterday, however, that the dramatic sign I’d been imagining poked its head into view–taking me by surprise.
What’s this I’m feeling, I asked myself, as I kissed my husband good night and turned over to my side of the bed.
The answer made me blush–just as much as I did when I stood covertly pregnant among my colleagues.
I kept this new sign a secret too–until the next morning–when Casey brought my tea.
“Have a great day,” he said, as he kissed my forehead goodbye.
“Wait, I want to tell you something…” I said, motioning him back to the bed.
I hesitated. Both embarrassed and afraid. Would this precious sign wither under attention. But I pressed on because I know that there is no promise of next time in a relationship.
“Last night when you were holding me…” I said. I pulled Casey closer so that I could hide my face against him as I whispered: “I didn’t just feel that I loved you, I felt…”
Casey was so touched that I couldn’t look at him. The tenderness was too much.
In the evening when we get into bed, the “in love” feeling returned–a little green sprout of a thing.
This time, I kept it secret–both tickled and afraid it might grow.