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My first date with my husband involved coffee, a copulating monkey and a peacock that followed me to the toilet. All of this is true.

We almost met online before we met in real life, matched by a dating app that was briefly cool before the swipe right and left of Tinder took over.  Almost met.

But instead, we actually met in a room in a school in Dublin 8. Amateur drama leads to real-life romance.

We had a Dublin 7 date. Coffee in Smithfield, a walk in the Phoenix Park and a trip to the zoo.  Tea and jam tarts in Arbour Hill. A kiss in Stoneybatter.  We had a city centre courtship; pints in the long haul, lunchtime coffees off Grafton St, evening walks in Dublin 8, New Year’s Eve to the tune of Christchurch’s bells.

And keeping it close to home, we got married in the registry office on Grand Canal St and took the celebrations to Capel St. Chicken wings, beer, and karaoke instead of canapes, prosecco and wedding DJs.

Those zoo two, they could not have imagined the topics that would become the everyday conversation, just a few short years later. The things that would become part of our vernacular.

Some things I never could have imagined we’d have an actual conversation about..

  • Excrement. How much did he poo today? What colour was it? There was what in it?
  • Puke. Like the excrement. How much? When, where, what was in it? Are you sure it’s all cleaned up.. there’s this weird smell.
  • The weird smells.. all of them. Wherever we live, our family life is now a hub for weird smells.. there was this strange smell in the bathroom of our apartment once.. for weeks I thought it was an unavoidable lingering odour from the cloth nappy bin/the regular bin/the cat litter. Turns out the cat had peed on the bathroom mat. AND I COULDN’T TELL. We moved house and the cat peed on the rub under the fire log basket.. and IT TOOK ME WEEKS to notice. Maybe all the sleep deprivation killed my sense of smell?
  • Cartoon pigs. Peppa pig, to be exact. Whether we want to expose our 3-year-old the bumbling Daddy pig and what sort of a cliche of a clueless Dad is he soaking up through his unblinking TV-gaze.  Is he developing a hint of a British accent and is Peppa responsible?

Those two people, sitting there having coffee in Smithfield square. We like each other so much we want to spend all of our time together, so we decide to have kids and never have any time left to spend with each other.  We meet for coffees on my lunch break in Tower records on Wicklow St (Long gone now), and we decide to have a life together without knowing that means sharing the hours out in a weekly schedule. “Ok, I’ll work in the morning, you in the afternoon, and let’s meet for lunch in the kitchen”.

On our first date, he dropped the jam tarts on the floor,  scooped them up, dusted them off, replaced them on the plate. Now our children drop the food on the floor and we scoop it up, dust it off, and hope nobody is looking, judging, as we replace it on their plates.

No copulating monkeys, no peacocks in our lives. But small creatures follow us into the bathroom and we have tigers and sharks and dinosaurs living at the bottom of the garden. And the downstairs bathroom smells like the elephant house. The zoo of family life.

 

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