Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughters. I would give anything to ensure I can keep them happy and safe, and feeling loved and secure. I spend my days and evenings playing outside, reading books, fixing puzzles, coloring pictures, visiting the park or the zoo, and loving on those precious girls to no end.

But, there are days when I just can’t wait until bedtime. 

After baths, endless extra trips to the bathroom, a few books, and one too many reminders to go to bed, I finally get to be a wife. My husband and I have an unbelievably boring routine of lounging on the couch with a beer and watching a DVR lineup of not-suitable-for-children-under-17 shows. But you know what? It’s not boring to me. It’s my chance to be a wife. We don’t talk about chores, we don’t fold laundry or put up dishes, we just exist as a couple. We talk about our days, our plans for the future, the things we’re loving and hating at the moment, and just enjoy our time together.

And sometimes, after a particularly bad day full of a two-year-old’s meltdowns and a ten-year-old’s sass, it’s the best part of my day. And, on those days, we plan a date. We commit to going to a movie the next weekend or spending an evening at the casino. We commit to having a night where we’re two hopeless lovebirds who can’t get enough of each other and don’t have any other cares in the world.

Sound selfish? Yes, I think so sometimes. Sometimes the mom-guilt kills me when I realize I could have spent that time with my girls. I recognize they’re only young once and I’m missing it. But, then I remind myself I’m only going to get these moments with my husband once too.

And you know what? I’m a wife first.

It’s a struggle to say it and believe me, it’s not always a popular opinion. I see some mothers wear their kids’ schedules around like a badge of honor. They can endlessly talk about little Billy’s soccer games and practice. And Sally has ballet twice a week and piano lessons, too. Plus, recitals and concerts. Don’t forget Jimmy’s karate and Boy Scout meetings. And they brag about how busy they are being such great moms. And they roll their eyes about how their husbands can never help with anything and spent all day Saturday watching the games. And when I mention that I spent Saturday evening bowling with my husband I get a look. And I’m back to feeling that mom-guilt. 

But, you know what? I’m a wife first.

Yes, I realize I’ve said it already but I have to keep reminding myself. I don’t want my husband to feel like an afterthought. I don’t want to roll my eyes every time he comes up in conversation and make it sound like he’s one of my children instead of my partner in life. I don’t want to replace my title of Mrs. with Mother. I chose my husband first and I will continue to do so. And, my hope is I won’t be one of those many couples plagued with the empty nest syndrome. The panic of what will I do without having my kids to take care of every day? The panic of who is this man I’ve been living with for 20+ years and haven’t had a conversation with that didn’t involve carpool and doctor visit reminders?

Believe me, I don’t love my children any less because I don’t devote 100 percent of my time to them. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that making my marriage a priority doesn’t make me any less of a mom. I hope that helps my girls realize how important it is to find a partner they love first, too. And I hope that helps them find happiness in their life, in whatever stage it may be.

Michelle Downing

Michelle Downing is a married mother of two young daughters. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and home renovation projects.