I’ve always loved my husband with reckless abandon. Once when we were engaged, we watched an episode of The Newlywed Game with my parents, my brother and his former wife. We all played along with the contestants on TV and it was surprising how poorly my fiancé and I did in comparison to the rest of my family.
When the couples were asked, ‘How many times a day on average do you kiss?’, my parents both answered zero and got a point for their matching answer. My brother and his ex-wife got a point by saying zero, as well. But I said 15 and my husband said 20. We didn’t get a point. In fact, we lost the game by a wide margin due to our excessive yet out of sync fondness for one other.
Something shifted in me when I became pregnant with our first child. Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was the knitting together of my DNA and my husband’s that occurred within my belly. All I know was that I fell in love with the father of my child to a deeper level than ever before.
A pragmatic man who recognises patterns, my husband was unprepared for the onslaught of love with which he was now attacked.
“Why you’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen,” I cried one day, as he sat eating his morning cereal while reading the newspaper.
He glanced around, as if hoping I was speaking to someone else. “Um, okay,” he said, looking worried.
That night at 2:00 a.m., he woke up to me tracing his lips with my finger. They were so irresistible, I couldn’t help myself.
“What did you do that for?” he mumbled, his sleepy eyes widening.
“Relax. Why are you afraid?” I asked. “People would kill to be loved this much.”
“I’m afraid you’ll kill because you love me. Your love is deranged. You love me so much, you’ll murder me and stick me in the freezer.” After those baseless accusations, he fell back asleep.
I contented myself with watching his chest rise and fall and the adorable snores he made when his nose became congested.
Soon afterwards my husband told me he had had enough of my excessive affection. “We have to ration the number of kisses you’ve been giving me. I have a job and responsibilities. I can’t sit around smooching my pregnant wife all day.”
“Okay,” I said. “How about we try and keep it under 100?”
We negotiated but because my husband is a businessman, he bargained me down to 5 kisses per day. I did score a major concession, that I could swap kisses for pressing my cheek against his if I chose to.
He realised the folly of this when I began to keep my cheek pressed to his for 20 to 30 minutes at a stretch.
After I delivered our child, my reckless love settled naturally on our baby girl. My husband was happy to scuttle away from my laser focus as I adored our daughter. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, which I had to reconcile with the fact that she was coated in fuzz and her head was pointy from being squeezed out of the birth canal.
“All the other babies look alike but mine is special because her head is triangular and she’s furry,” I told my father, who called as I recuperated. “She is perfect.”
Years ago, I read an article in Reader’s Digest about parenthood. It said that when you have children, your love isn’t divided like a pie where every new member gets a subsequently smaller slice. Instead, it is multiplied. With each addition to the family, the amount of love grows.
I love my husband and kids more with each passing year. Each day, my love multiplies. Yes, they may wish I would stop hugging, kissing and hanging off of them when we are in public but I think they secretly relish being the objects of unrelenting, all-encompassing adoration.
Mona Zutshi Opubor is an Indian-American and Nigerian short story author and memoirist. She is studying for her MSt in Literature and Arts at the University of Oxford.
Read more at www.monazutshiopubor.com
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