Waaaaay back in the late 1990s when the Mrs. and I began to date, pretty much the minute we became an item actually, we both knew that we two were forever material. Yeah, it was all kinds of dreamy. Had our early scenes been in a movie, the terms “romantic comedy” and “chick flick” would definitely have been tossed around. I’m not British nor am I a bumbling fool, but Hugh Grant likely would have been involved. Come to think of it, if our early weeks and months were a real film, I’d have avoided it like the plague.
Still, there is knowing that you are with “the one” and then there’s cementing it. Locking it down. Signing the papers. Sealing the deal. You probably understand my point. By cementing it, of course, I mean purchasing silverware and a set of cereal bowls. What were you expecting? A ring? Bleh.
It wasn’t the money. Our commitment bowls were on clearance at some department store that we’ve outlasted, and cost us no more than $10 for all four of them. The symbolism though, that was worth WAY more. This was our first purchase together that didn’t involve tipping a waitress – meaning we got to take the utensils home with us instead of leaving them for the busboy. We were the joint owners of forks, spoons and bowls. It was official – we were going to be together for a while.
Fast-forward a dozen years; Hugh Grant has been replaced by John C. Reilly – still funny but a darker, more complex character. We’ve got a pair of cars (foreign) and daughters (domestic), one real job, a tabby cat, and a modest home. It was inevitable that life as a married couple would get more complicated when adding homeownership into the mix, along with a couple of tiny people that resemble us physically and emotionally, plus their crumbs and all of their clothes.
The struggle then has been keeping our movie as sappy and unwatchable as possible in the face of real-life challenges that can’t be gleefully wrapped up in a 90-minute PG-13 motion picture. The old head of hair thankfully isn’t, but my patience is thinning rapidly and petty things I let pass as a younger man now aggravate me. The result is a husband and daddy too often preoccupied with straightening up, then being annoyed about it, and finally being too tired from it to soak up the giggles and goodness of family life.
I want my daughters to think of love as bliss – the fairy tale version children are allowed to dream – and to view romance as it existed more than a decade ago for their mom and dad (okay, maybe not all of that). Yet, despite a sign reading “don’t forget to kiss each other goodnight” hanging by my side of the bed, I still fail in doing so at 10 p.m. and at other points throughout the day. The crumbs though, they’ve been vacuumed, the laundry’s folded and put away, and those bowls are always clean and ready to be used. I often think my priorities are more than a little bit off-kilter.
Twelve years removed from our first kiss, I do still fancy seeing those heavy blue and orange bowls filled with cereal in the morning, and I still adore spying my wife’s lovely figure under the covers, happily dreaming the one that came true. Fortunately our script is still being written. I’ve got time to ensure that the ending of this flick is as dreamy as it began for my wife and for our daughters, even if that means dusting off my British accent and letting a bowl and spoon sit dirty in the sink all day.
Jeff Bogle is a stay-at-home dad of two lovely little ladies, ages 7 (The Bear) and 4 (The Mouse), who provide him with hours of humorous in-home entertainment. He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world, although he needs to be reminded of this fact from time to time.