On Marriage After Baby - When You're In this Shit Together, Literally
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Every fall, my mom visits from Belgium to stay with us for a few weeks. She comes in like the kickass grandma she is, cooks for us and takes care of Matteo. It's only then that my husband Dan and I have a moment to look at each other and say, "Hey other person who lives in this house! How ARE you?"
It’s sad to say that our marriage comes absolute last on our list of priorities. We are so busy with baby and work that it is just not even a factor. When we do go on a date the logistics are almost not worth it.
We have to find a sitter, and pay the sitter, so we have to make sure our time away is worth that investment, which means no restaurants where there is a wait, because that’s a waste of time. Or no new restaurants, because what if the food is not good and then we missed our window and then we’ve just wasted our money and then I'll be thinking about all the other things we could have done with that money.
We usually go to the same restaurant, it's safe, consistent, steady. We wine. We dine. And we never have enough time. We’re then stress-texting the sitter from the uber ride home “almost there, sorry!!” and then overpay her out of guilt.
We can’t go out too late because we have to wake up with the baby at 6am, and if we don’t get at least one good night sleep on the weekends our entire work week is set up to fail. And we never drink more than two glasses.
Those who think that's lame have never had to watch kids while being hungover. You see, even date nights become calculated, planned out, devoid of any spontaneity.
Conversations at home are usually about chores. "You did this so I’ll do that. I did this last week so it’s your turn to do that. I asked you do to do this and you didn’t so I won’t do this either. I always do that so don’t ask me to do this too."
And then the bargaining comes in. “I got up with the baby all week so I feel like I deserve [to go get a massage/alone time/to sleep in tomorrow]. Okay but if you do your thing tomorrow, I’m going to [see my friends/go get my hair done/take a nap] next week.
Mundane every day chores become a “mini vacation,” like running out to get groceries, a carwash, or even a teeth cleaning. And because we leave each other alone with the baby those things rarely get done. "No, you can't go to get gas right now. The baby is hungry and you have to watch him while I cook." The baby always comes first.
I’m not saying any of this for anyone to feel bad for me. We chose to have this life and I am happy with it. All I want people to know is this: It’s really hard sometimes. I understand why a lot of marriages end in divorce after kids.
Some days you’re so busy with the kid and work that all you can do is high five each other while you release the other parent yelling “Tag!”. And some days you’re both so exhausted that all you can do is stay in different rooms because you know you’re both close to explode.
That’s marriage after kids, folks. If you don’t want this to happen, don’t have kids. But here’s the silver lining… and there is one. Your marriage bends, but it does not break. It deepens. It strengthens. It endures. There is nothing that will bring you closer to your partner than caring for your baby when the baby's fever spikes to dangerous levels.
You are bonded by this deep love for this beautiful child. You are in this together. When the baby wakes up at night and my husband steps up and tells me “I've got it. Keep sleeping," I have never loved him more. Or when Matteo falls, and then my husband puts a bandaid on his knee and holds him and kisses his forehead, I almost melt from gratitude.
The universe gave me this beautiful man, and we made this beautiful child, and my child is so loved by his father. I will never have to worry about Matteo being okay because he has the best papa protecting him. That is the best gift a mother can ask for.
Almost all of the moments in our marriage are terrible. Still, I have never loved this man more. Because there are those tender moments that absolutely take my breath away. And it’s never when we’re out on a date. It’s when he comes over when I’m cooking while holding Matteo and we do a family hug. We’re all just resting in each other. Melting. Feeling each other’s support.
And then I realize. This is it. We’re doing it. Marriage. The peaks and the valleys. The bargaining and bartering. All so we can create this safe and loving home for this tiny human being we created. Is it hard? Sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely.