I may have a a bit skewed idea of what love and romance actually are. I had a tear in my eye when during a trip to nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, a couple of my friends got engaged in the middle of a dead town, with abandoned buildings around. People got evacuated from there in fear of imminent death thirty years ago, and there I was, standing in the middle of it all, thinking it’s the most romantic place on earth to propose. In my head I was humming Rihanna’s “We found love in a hopeless place”.
Before I bullied my husband into signing his life away and proposing to me, I considered my ex boyfriend surprising me with a massive tattoo of my name and my date of birth on his back as the highlight of my romantic endeavorers. I mean it does take guts to do it, hoping you chose wisely, but never really knowing. Guts or craziness, but I like to think I was never the one to choose crazies, so I’ll go with guts. Then, following on from a break up with the tattooed guy and a hiccup of a brief marriage to a truly crazy person (medically crazy, not just in a “cutting the sleeves of jackets and throwing a hissy fit” way), I met my husband, and experienced the love I have never experienced before.
I think we can call it a romance, but it was always something else, something more. It was a truly adult like relationship from the start, and I think almost 7 years on, that hasn’t changed much, except now I entered a totally different planet called parenthood. We share this planet together and it redefined what romance means to me in a very real way.
When I was seventeen, I wrote in my diary, that my ideal boyfriend, and the one and only love of my life, will have the following attributes: driving license, long hair, he will be able to play the guitar and dance to “Wake me up before you go-go” by Wham! This list still makes me smirk today.
The requirements for romance post baby and post thirty have changed dramatically. I no longer need long hair. My husband is most definitely bald. Even though he holds a driving license in every type of vehicle known to man, he doesn’t play the guitar. We once tried dancing lessons, but our trainer wanted to lead my husband’s hand not only on the dance floor. He was genuinely lovely, but it got a bit awkward. Also, we got lazy. It was fun whilst it lasted though.
What happened to the romance? Is it dead? Can it be resurrected?
In the pre-baby era, we exchanged gifts and surprised each other with romantic gestures. He won my heart flying over to Poland from the UK, 54 weekends in a row, just to see me. Being a level headed woman that I occasionally am, I didn’t want to give up my job in the city for a fling. Packing my bags and moving back to the UK wasn’t an option unless I knew it’s for real. He proved to me he cared.
It wasn’t the money, the flights. It was leaving his warm bed in the middle of the night, to go drive to Luton, wait at the airport, to then check in, fly for 2.5h, get a taxi, stop-start we all hate when travelling. He did it every weekend without fail.
When we were both busy, we were meeting up somewhere in the middle, during weekends booked on a whim. Flying to Rome from two different destinations, only to spend a couple of days together, and then going home. Me to Poland, him to UK.
Christmases were never a time to save, and I totally melted opening a Chopard box once to reveal a stunning necklace I love to this day. Every present was always extremely thoughtful. Nothing was random. He listened to me the whole year, made notes and surprised me with things I always wanted. It was a romance from a book, and we were living it, but it was always underlined with a fabric of stability and maturity. I am a Capricorn, I do love this shit. Stability turns me on. It was flamboyant but demure. It was romance as it should be.
Then we had Eva.
What does romance mean to me today?
I am constantly exhausted, but I do this to myself. I stay up late at night, mostly working but sometimes just catching up with friends. Shane gets it and he knows I need it to stay sane. Even though our daughter wakes up early, he lets me sleep in as long as I need to. I love him for that.
I love the fact he trusts me. I never had a partner who trusts me, but it never used to bother me, as I found it thrilling they thought I was never for granted. Then I realised how silly that was. He trusts me with his life and now, at 34 years old, that’s what I find romantic.
I find romance in doing our life insurance documents together. I feel it every time we go to pick up our daughter from the nursery. I feel it when we sit together on the sofa, not looking at each other and just buried in our thoughts. Sometimes buried in our phones.
I feel the romance every time when in winter or heavy rain he still takes our dog out and never asks me to go with him. I love our dog but I absolutely despise cold.
I feel the romance each time he orders his new socks online, instead of moaning that I haven’t done washing for days.
I feel the romance when I work late and don’t come to bed till 3am weeks at a time and he still doesn’t make me feel guilty about the fact his right hand hurts from jacking off.
I feel the romance when he dresses our daughter for the nursery, when I am running late and still need to slap some make up on. He hates dressing her as she’s fidgety.
I feel the romance every time he puts his career on a back burner, for my professional life to flourish. No matter when I decide to have a session, he always tries to find a way to be home for our daughter.
I feel the romance every time I have a crazy idea, when he supports me 100% and always encourages me, even though deep down inside he must be thinking I am completely bonkers.
I feel the romance every time he remembers to buy me a bag of salted popcorn, when he’s doing some shopping. I love salted popcorn.
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Romance is not always dead. Sometimes it may just be hibernating.
I would like to believe that when our daughter is independent, some of this old school romance will be back, however I think deep down I know it will never be the same. It will be different, and I cannot wait to find that out and experience every minute of it. Because every year, no matter what life throws at us, the romance is getting replaced by something stronger. Less rainbow like, but more of a brick and mortar, true, mature feeling, and I love that.