First comes love, then come marriage, then comes baby, and then another baby, and then HOLY HELL what happened to us?
When I was about to take my first maternity leave, a senior executive at the company where I worked called me into her office and then got misty-eyed as she told me how magical the first month with a new baby is for two new parents to share. She described awesome joy and pride and compared it to a second honeymoon. My husband had planned to take four weeks off from work, and I’m so glad he did. We were so pleased with ourselves and even though I felt like I had been run over by a truck between my C-Section recovery and my excruciating nursing pain, I felt the love for my husband that had been predicted by that veteran mom. When I tell expectant moms about it now, I get teary-eyed myself. It’s an amazingly special feat to create a child together and enjoying that bond is truly a great pleasure.
When my second child was a fussy newborn, the honeymoon– and paternity leave– was shorter. My husband had the same compassion and sensitivity for my recovery and renewed job as a mama cow, but with a two-and-a-half-year old in the mix, I spent more time thinking about him as another set of hands than as a fantastic guy that I had chosen to marry. I suddenly started to suspect that all the times I heard my own divorced parents and other divorced parents say, “It is not about you,” to their child, might not be entirely true. How could it not be? Children impact a marriage. Even if they’re not a strain, they’re certainly a distraction, and if we don’t acknowledge that, we’re in serious denial.
It’s never surprising to me when a reader or friend, especially one with kids under four years old, asks what strategies will help keep a relationship on track during the most intense, hectic child-rearing years. When such a question came in recently, I was inspired to share some wise words from our friend Asha of Minimalist Parenting. She made this video for Kids in the House and I think it offers some great perspective: Tips for maintaining a strong marriage while parenting.