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Paradise Is At Our Fingertips

alec vanderboom

The brilliant theologian I get to call "husband" has a new saying: "Paradise is at our fingertips." He's on a mission to get more joy into our family. He's convinced that a few tweaks are all we need to get peace, and joy and all that good stuff promised by the Holy Spirit.

We're five days away from our 11th Anniversary. I've been reading too many romance novels, and this overdose made me worried: exactly how were we supposed to keep "romance alive" with all these babies in the house. It's not just tiring to have a newborn with colic. It's hard to even imagine having "date night" in the foreseeable future. Its difficult to trust even my best church friends to babysit if I know there's a 85% chance my daughter could spend the next two hours turning purple with rage because her beloved Mother is missing. (I nicknamed her Miss Chilipepper for a reason! Nevertheless, I'm going to attempt this during the afternoon of June 4).

Also, as a faithful Catholic, I can't lull myself with the slogan "this lack of romance in our marriage is just a season." Sure, Baby Abigail will grow out of colic. But I'm hoping to have other kids. Maybe sooner, than later. So far our track record is 3 out of 5 with colic/painful infant reflux. "May the odds be ever in your favor" is a slogan that doesn't really apply to us having easy babies who will peaceful sleep through three courses at a French cafe.

On Memorial Day, I was sitting on the couch having gloomy thoughts about the State of Our Marriage after Morning Prayer. I shared these with my husband. I told him, "I miss you. I feel like all we do 24/7 is care for our babies. There's no space for us a couple. If we do reconnect at the of the day, I'm either exhausted or we spend our few precious moments having deep business conversations about the family finances." He said "Lets pray about it". Oh yea of little faith. Three years into Carmel and I do these prayers with such little hope that they will be heard and answered.

Six hours later, we painted our bedroom! A lovely apricot color I'd picked out during my pregnancy nesting phase five months ago but somehow never found time to get the actual "low-vapor" paint onto our walls. The paint transformed the space. Our tiny bedroom (the size of some people's walk in closets) went from drab to lovely!

We moved out all the furniture to paint, and we refused to move much back in. I based our bedroom on a Carmelite "cell." I've got a bed, a rocking chair, a lamp, and two tiny side tables. There are no clothes in the closet or a chest of drawers. I even moved out my writing desk and donated that item to my daughter's room.

Inspired, I went to the grocery store and bought a potted palm for $19.95. My nine year old complained bitterly about holding on the way home, while the minivan door was swung open. She said "This is my anniversary gift to you. I'm miserable!!!" (Ah, I love age 9. It's like a preview of age 13). I got a lamp at TJ Max and new pjs for both spouses. (Finally, PJ bottoms for him that don't have blue paint on them. I also realized that the only item of clothing I enjoy shopping for right now is new nightgowns. I've got a 10 week post-partum stomach "poof" and bags under my eyes, but man---do I like to look smashing while nursing at 3 AM).

Then I came home with shelves from Target. My husband spent a lot of effort, and considerable prayers to St. Joseph to hang them. Now we have Our Lady of Mount Carmel smiling down from our bedroom wall. I put a mason jar of Queen Anne's lace by the phone and a candle. We lit a candle in our bedroom last night. I was taking a shower last night to wash off all the yucky pollen from my eyes, and I felt like I bought my first apartment. "There's a burning candle, in my bedroom," I said to myself with glee. It was so adult. So obviously anti-child proof.

The best part of the bedroom make-over was the fact that we removed Tessy's crib.  Sorry Dr Sears. For the first time, we are not co-sleeping with a newborn and we do NOT have a crib in our room. I wasn't sure my toddler was actually going to accept the fact that's she now moved upstairs. (We'd tried this before Baby Abigail's birth and teething caused a reversion.) So I made her crib mattress into a trundle bed. So easy!

It's such a psychological difference to have Baby Abigail and Toddler Tess join us as "guests" to our Master Bedroom. Abigail's in a little portable bassinet. I pull her out into the dining room when I want time alone with Jon. I roll her back in at night. Tess has a trundle bed, if she insists on spending the night with us. Yet there is no baby stuff in here. No giant crib. I have no idea how long I can keep Abigail in a bassinet, but for this month life is wonderful.

Now my bedroom is so lovely and wonderful. I reclaimed the term "romance" from those twisted romance novels. To me, romance is listening. I listen to God. I listen to my spouse. I'm a child of Mary's whose love affair started at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. And it's okay if I can't predict where my marriage is going to be at year 12, much less year 22--because Jesus (the true lover of my soul) is a romantic guy who is full of wonderful surprises.