Family · Life

To have and to hold

I know, I know, two posts in a row (whee, a rhyme!). My laziness post-NYC threw off the schedule (yes, there is a schedule now), but here we are, getting back on track. It helps that I finagled another guest post out of a fabulous writer friend. This one comes courtesy of the lovely and talented Erin from Reluctantly Normal. Erin explores motherhood, marriage, and career stuff with a healthy dose of both honesty and humour. Seriously, go check her out (after you read her post here, of course). Erin generously agreed to shed light on what happens to a relationship when it goes from a twosome to a permanent threesome: parenthood changes everything.

Sometimes all we have are whispers in the dark, mumbled ‘I love you’s’ over sleepy heads, and quick, dry kisses as we rush out the door.

It seems those languid days of just us were so long ago: the early-in-our-marriage days where time was spent on each other, talking, laughing, and with no need to schedule ‘date nights.’ Where kisses out the door lingered longer, and weekend mornings meant someone else was flipping the pancakes and refilling my coffee.

We’ve been married for less than three years, and in that time everything and nothing has changed. We’ve moved three times, been laid off, fired and rehired, and even adopted another cat. But most importantly we became parents.

The little not-quite-three-foot tall monster in our life fills our days and our hearts, but she also divides us.  She pits husband against wife in a battle for who’s going to do what today.

Those lazy weekend mornings of our early marriage seem so far away. I’m sure those days belonged to some other couple, a couple who wore our same skin like a well-rested mask. Now, instead of slowly crawling out of bed together, we trade off weekend mornings: Get up with her Saturday, I’ll do it tomorrow. Please let me just sleep until 9 a.m. at least.

The ebbs and flows of a marriage are made painfully clear the moment the hospital discharges that teeny tiny creature to shell-shocked parents.  When we brought C. home for the first time, we gently placed the carseat on the floor of the living room where the cats gingerly came to inspect her, and we looked at each other bewildered and bone-tired. Now what? We were happy, overwhelmed, and confused. We didn’t yet know how much she was going to change the dynamics of our relationship.

In the chaos that is family life it’s easy to forget about each other. Gone are the endless evenings spent talking and laughing or going out together with friends. Instead we must work harder to find the fun, the spark that still exists underneath the parental uniforms. There are plenty of belly laughs and silly antics with a toddler in the house, but it’s easy to forget to carve out the time and space for inside jokes and flirting.

Maintaining a relationship, with or without children, is challenging. There’s a reason traditional marriage vows have a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact sentiment. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer: this shit is not to be taken lightly. Adding a child (or two, or three) makes it that much harder.

In the three short years of our marriage, we’ve learned to work hard for each other. We might not have the time and energy we used to, but we both realize it’s important to nurture our relationship for the sake of us and for our little family. Even if that means the conversations we used to have across the table at a dive bar are now replaced with pillow talk when the baby wakes us up in the middle of the night, or rushing out the door to our respective jobs means a mad dash after a hectic morning.

Being parents to our little girl has shattered our marriage as we knew it – but in the pieces left behind we’ve created a mosaic of family life that is at once the healthiest, the sickest, the richest, the poorest, sometimes the worst, but most importantly, always the best.

 

 

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