Of Love and Carseats

My fantasies have changed a bit over the years...
My fantasies have changed a bit over the years…

People often say that after you settle down and are married or committed to someone for a long time, and especially after you have kids, life becomes less exciting and romantic. And, well, yes. It does. Sometimes it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re sleep deprived, exhausted and all the bathrooms in your house smell a little like pee no matter how often you clean them (moms of boys, can I get a “heck yeah”?).  Or trying to get the damn car seats out of the car in 98 degree weather outside the dealership service center, as I did when I had to leave Hubs’ car for service overnight last week.

A bikini-clad girl glistening with sweat, whispering dirty talk might be very sexy… But an overtired mom, neck craned against the roof, soaking through her Target brand t-shirt screaming profanity at a child’s car seat is NOT sexy. (The child wasn’t present for this episode, you’ll be happy to know). Also, cliche of cliches, the sweet girl at the dealership who tried to help me actually did break a nail in the process, and I really felt bad for her. It was an expensive-looking manicure.

I usually think of myself as a pretty strong woman, and a feminist, and I think there’s very little women can’t do (and very little men shouldn’t be able to do if they want). Until it’s time to take the car seats out of the car. I will play my girl card in that situation every single time. They make those damn buttons so hard to press, and after a full grown man has beared down born down pushed on that seat with his knees carrying all his weight, while simultaneously pulling up with all his strength to get it as tight as possible – for safety – there is no amount of screaming, pushing, sweating or magic spell conjuring I can do to get those Cheerio-laden germ farms out of there. In Vaneschewitz, I’ve had to force adult friends to climb over the car seats back to the third row because I simply couldn’t get them out.

In moments like that one, I don’t need a strip tease [insert audible sigh of relief from Hubs] or a romantic dinner out. I just need someone I can count on, to do all the little things that make life run – if not smoothly, then at least less disastrously. When it comes to relationships, I’m a fan of Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. I used to think my love languages were Words of Affirmation and Quality Time (and maybe they were in the pre-carseat era). Now that we’re coming up on eight years of marriage and trying to survive two little boys, I’ve become much more Acts of Service focused.  Hubs, of course, has been there all along – he’s always ahead of me. What else is new?

Acts of Service are those little things we do for each other that make life easier and show affection. Taking the trash out without being asked, volunteering to haul the kids to a birthday party unassisted, running the dishwasher. Coming out to help with the groceries, renewing the car tags. None of it is exactly Penthouse Forum material, but as life becomes more hectic and stressful, those little things we do for each other become increasingly meaningful. And meaningful, it turns out, is pretty damn sexy all by itself…

Do you hate the car seats as much as I do? What are your favorite Acts of Service your spouse, partner, sweetie, etc. does for you? Is anyone even reading this or are we all still staring at the fireman picture?


I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I blog about writing, publishing, motherhood, health, psychology and whatever else strikes me in the moment. I’d like to officially apologize to everyone in the vicinity of Subaru of Kennesaw, Georgia for last week’s tirade outside the service center.

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My current roster of books includes The Marriage Pact series, a trilogy of Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction novels. You can find them for all eBook formats and in paperback here.

MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a distracted writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. She blogs erratically with writing advice, random observations, and reflections on raising very loud kids and dogs. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

One thought on “Of Love and Carseats”

  1. Faith WilliamsFaith Williams

    I tore myself away from the picture of the fireman…but just for a few minutes! I have to say, as someone who’s been married to the same person for 24 years, that Acts of Service definitely move up as time goes on. My hubby does things for me without thinking (like cooking dinner) and when he’s not here, I am eating cereal for dinner (not that there’s anything wrong with that). He worries about my health more than I do – he’s always looking to make sure we will be together in our old age.

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