Several years ago, well before children were even on the radar and shortly after Dean and I got married, we attended a friend’s wedding overseas. The bride, someone dear to my heart, was getting married in her childhood home of Worcester, England, and several of us girlfriends were coming from the U.S for the event, one of whom was bringing her husband. Let’s call them Bridget and Charles.
At that time in our lives, weddings (the equivalent of fraternity/sorority formals in your 20’s) typically entailed the following:
- heavy drinking post-ceremony (and sometimes before);
- ordering bottles (not glasses) of wine for your set table at dinner;
- hysterical dancing during which a) many people fall, b) someone takes their clothes off (my husband), c) someone does the splits, and d) you become a member of the band (typically the tambourine player);
- screaming, I mean singing, along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ (and in the case of my college girlfriends, Enrique Iglesias’ Escape);
- running out of vodka by the end of the night;
- multiple hook-up shenanigans, some comical, some scandalous; and
- an amazingly hung-over brunch the next day to reminisce.
In other words, someone getting married is one of the best evenings/days/weekends of your life, and it gets hyped up beyond belief (for the most part, deservedly so). Dean and I were pumped for the festivities, even more so because it was the first wedding we attended since our own, during which we were stressed with family drama and hosting obligations, not to mention we chose to be sober so we could “remember everything.” What no one told us is that you don’t remember anything sober or drunk anyways, so you might as well keep toasting with the rest of them.
Bridget and Charles were perhaps even more excited, but for a vastly different reason than ours. For the past eight months they had been on baby-duty with their first-born. Enough said.
Add the “international” affect plus some jet lag to a group of girls who haven’t seen each other in several years, and this was sure to be a great time. After a few days of sight-seeing and settling in, the wedding festivities began. The night before the wedding, we convened after dinner at the hotel bar. And by hotel, I mean a gorgeous English estate with historic context that I have long-since forgotten. The effects of liquor had well-infused our party, and after a few days of relaxed catch-up and getting significant others introduced, the group approached a new level of comfort. Or rather, the girls started talking about sex. More specifically, Bridget commented to two of us ladies on the fact that since having their daughter, sex was nonexistent.
Charles overheard and clearly felt the need to contribute. Aided and abetted by his refreshed scotch, he interjected, “remember when we used to have sweaty sex all the time?”
Bridget’s relaxed demeanor shatters. She looks mortified.
Charles further laments, “and we used to walk around naked all the time!” He’s staring at Bridget intently, she’s looking at the floor.
“Don’t you remember we would have sex and then hang out in the kitchen naked while we had a snack?”
By now everyone in the immediate vicinity is listening and exchanging uncomfortable glances. I think Bridget had just experienced that sensation of sharing something personal when it’s perfectly fine for you to talk about it yourself and on your own terms, but it’s quite a different story for someone else to say it. Particularly when it’s a source of insecurity.
The evening went on, drunken shenanigans ensued (including the defilement of a billiards room), and all had a good time.
The next evening was the wedding. Our bride was stunning, and the ceremony was at an incredible church over 400 years old, with beautiful stained glass and birds singing in the rafters. The ladies were all fashionably attired (and wearing fascinators!) and the men looked their finest. The groom is an officer in the Royal Navy so there was a lot of formal pomp and circumstance. It was a beautiful day and a touching celebration with a lot of love.
At one point after dinner I was sitting with Bridget and Charles in the bar, taking a break from dancing with the bride. I asked them how their first trip away from their daughter was going. Bridget said she missed her daughter terribly, but it was also good to be away. She paused, and then added, “we were hoping this weekend we would have a lot of sex and return to just being a couple.” Charles then added, “yeah, that didn’t really happen, instead we have just slept! We didn’t realize how much we just needed to sleep.” They both laughed and continued talking about how amazing it was just to sleep non-interrupted, take naps, and sleep in, while I mentally thought how crazy they were for not having sex and felt mentally smug that my sex life was clearly better than theirs. I also remember thinking that if and when I ever had kids, it certainly wasn’t going to affect my sex life.
Oh the things I know now! Dean and I are leaving tomorrow for our first trip away from Bruce. Four days, four nights on a beach, cocktail in hand. I am so excited. I am of course sad to leave Bruce, particularly as weekends are so precious to me since I’m currently working, but I know this is time that Dean and I really need for ourselves. We promised each other when I was pregnant that no matter what, we would take at least one long-weekend a year for ourselves.
We feel we have been waiting for this weekend forever, so the expectations are high. We are imagining yes, a lot of sleep, but also the ability to drink cocktails without any fear of hangovers or responsibility for childcare, and of course, the ability to be physically intimate without the fear of a child waking up, the knowledge of an early morning wake-up call, or countless errands and childcare necessities that seem to get in the way. Basically we’re imagining life before I was pregnant. For four days in paradise. Is this possible, or will the dream be shattered (in a good way), like it was for Bridget and Charles?
We’ll see how it goes. Either way, I have a feeling I’ll be giving Bridget a call when we get back to let her know that I am experiencing just another way that parenthood changes life on levels you never expect and can’t even imagine at earlier points in your life.