Love is a tricky thing. It has so many faces – sure it’s spiky and fizzy at first and then it becomes exclusive, deep, powerful. After a while, it becomes more homely, more casual – more like a favourite pair of joggers than a pair of erection-inducing heels. Of course, there are still erections…just not as many of them. The point is, what love feels like changes all the time but how you show love should remain the same, all the time.
I’m speaking from my own perspective, but I don’t mind that the fizzy knickers, butterflies in your tummy phase is done. Sure it’s exciting but it’s also exhausting, you know? Checking yourself all the time, working hard to be as desirable as you can be while also maintaining a uber cool air, finding those knockout/I just threw this on outfits? Sheesh. It’s all too much after a while, which is why I love the progression towards the more homely version of love.
This homely, cosy love though, comes with its own pitfalls. Sure, you can pretty much fart when you need to, your hair doesn’t always have to be done and you almost never have to wear matching underwear, but throw in all the adulty stuff and a couple of kids and it’s easy to forget that this love came from a place of breath-shortening, passionate belief that, at some point, you wanted to spend the rest of your life together.
What about love and mums though? Us mums are a funny bunch of emotionally unpredictable creatures. Pre-kids, a valid display of love may have included a surprise bunch of flowers, a trip away, an unexpected breakfast-in-bed. With all that spare cash we had, it may have been thoughtful, beautiful, gifts that showed just how perfectly he knew you. It could just have been an unexpected shag in every room in the house.
Now though, almost none of that stuff is important – it’s nice of course – but actually us mums want something else. Of course, I can only talk from my own perspective but I’ll eat the fluff from the dryer between two pairs of crusty boxer shorts, washed down with a swig of bin juice if I’m the only one to feel like this.
We want a partner. I’m specifically not using the word ‘husband’ because I don’t want to implicate any of the day to day house work, life admin shit in this. All us mums want is a partner. An equal. A confidante. A friend. We want someone who silently looks at us every morning and telepathically high-fives us while saying with their eyes, ‘We’ve got this babe’.
We want someone who genuinely believes that keeping the children alive day to day is a 50/50 responsibility; not just someone who pays lip service to being a ‘hands on dad’ but only pulls himself off the sofa to do a bedtime story every night and whips them to the park on a Saturday morning.
We want a partner who acknowledges that what we do (whatever that is: work, stay at home) is valid and is proud of us for doing it. We don’t want a partner who looks a little disappointed that the carefree, pre-kids, woman who’s nails were always done, is now more interested in getting a great deal on the fabric conditioner than spending hours grooming her lady garden in anticipation of a hot night of steamy sex. We don’t want to have to ask for time to do our thing. Whether that’s the gym, a lunch with friends, a work meeting, we want it to be implicit when we’re planning our week that we will get our time too.
We want a partner who takes time to ask us about our day every day, no matter how boring it may appear to have been. We want them to know that it’s important to ask because it may be the only chance we’ve had to speak to an adult all day, because it shows that they respect what we do with our day even if it isn’t kicking ass and breaking balls in a swanky office. It’s important for us to know that they still enjoy talking to us because, well, it can sometimes feel like they don’t.
And that’s the thing here – the seismic shift that a mum’s life can undertake when she pops a human out can be enough to knock the confidence out of them. Finding your feet as a mum, in the house, in the playgroup circle, at the school gates, is a tricky old business. Imagine if you woke up one day and you lived in a different place, did a different job, had completely different friends and all the while you had to keep a screaming human alive with your boobs and on zero sleep? It’s a bit like that and it can be a huge transformation for us to get our heads, and our self-esteem around.
So, while all this is going on, us mums need to know that one thing, just one thing will not change. They need to know that their partner (the one who incidentally helped get this into this fine mess) is still there, still looking at them like they used to, still seeing the woman that was there before, still loving the girl that they chose to create life with because when everyone else looks at you like a mum, they’re the only ones who should see the woman they knew before…and only that woman