I can’t even remember exactly what happened on that particular night, and – honestly – I don’t think it matters for blog purposes anyway. Nate had done something that I felt was selfish and that left me feeling like I was balancing this parent thing on my own. (Which I’m obviously not, because I do have an amazing man standing by me! But try telling that to the sleep-deprived, exhausted version of myself). ;)
So, in response to what had just happened, I looked baby Brady in the eyes and said, “Your dad is a jerk sometimes.”
Ugh, I’m so ashamed to even admit that… :( And even in the moment, I instantly gasped. First of all, I had called Nate a ‘jerk’ (which is basically a slap in the face coming from me, because I have a smiley, bubbly personality and am more on the soft-spoken side. I don’t talk to anyone that way, especially not my husband). Secondly, I had broken our first rule of parenting. We had promised to never put down the other parent to – or in front of – our child. And even though Brady obviously can’t understand English yet, I was still stepping over a dangerous line.
I was horrified the minute it left my mouth. And Nate was horrified too, but more horrified with himself when he realized why I had called him that in the first place. Quite frankly, we were both ashamed, because this isn’t how we treat each other… ever. But man, it’s amazing how Dr. Jekyll can be pulled out of you, when your precious baby is crying nonstop and leaving you more tired than you thought imaginable.
“I know it’s not true, but sometimes I feel so alone,” I whispered. Shoulders slumped. Tears streaming down my face. Baby screaming in the background.
I’ll never forget… Nate came up behind me, wrapped me in his arms, and whispered into my ears, “I want you, I love you, I need you. And I’m SO sorry if I don’t make you feel that way every single day.”
I melted, not from the eloquence of his words but because I knew how much he meant them.
And instantly, we were good. Or at least much better. The stress, fear, and sense of drowning all hid behind a dark curtain – if only for a minute – and we were reminded of our love. We were reminded of who we are together, as best friends, and as soulmates. We were reminded of just how strong we are when we’re in each other’s arms.
We remembered that we are on the same team!
And it suddenly occurred to me how easy it is to go through the ‘motions of love’, when you’re a new parent. Your free moments are – well – nonexistent. Saying ‘I love you’ or kissing before bed can so easily lose their meaning, because you’re exhausted. Sometimes, the spoken words or the peck on the lips just become things you do…
And WOW is it scary easy to just start ‘going with the flow’ and forgetting about each other in your efforts to pour love into a mini version of youselves.
So maybe that’s what it takes sometimes. It takes a little hurricane and a little explosion of feelings to make sure that you’re both communicating beyond the ‘canned’, expected expressions of love. Because trust me, in the thick of it, it’s sometimes easy to hold all that stress in, before you slip on the boxing gloves and begin to flail at whoever is standing close to you. (Granted, it’s best if you can communicate and avoid the tense, hurt feelings to begin with. But at the end of the day, we are just human, and the struggle is so very real some days).
I’m learning to go beyond ‘I love you’, unless that ‘I love you’ is said with all the warmth and feeling it truly means. :) I go further into expressing ‘why’ I love him… To say, “Wow, I needed your arms around me tonight.” Or “You are such a good daddy!” Or even little flirtatious comments that remind us to take time for the romance too. :)
Just this morning, Nate told Brady (within earshot of me), “You and I are so lucky to have Mommy, aren’t we?”
And as simple as it may sound, it meant the world to me. I totally needed that. I needed to be reminded that I’m appreciated, and that my husband really does love me.
Because even if you might know it already, trust me, as new parents you need to hear it a lot in order to combat the craziness!
Sometimes it’s that simple.
Sometimes it’s making sure you hold each other’s hands in the car… Or that you sneak up behind them for a hug… Or that you wake them up with a kiss.
Those little things sure do add up.
And it also takes a very strong effort to make sure you’re both having a bit of time for each other. It’s not easy… But it has to happen!
Gosh, we love Brady so much that we honestly wouldn’t go back to the days before him. Because as amazing as those days were, you just can’t put a price on the love you have for your child once you become a parent. I’m serious! To any expectant parents out there reading this and who might be freaking out right about now, I promise you this: you will not regret the change. Nothing could prepare you for it. But then once your baby arrives, the love you feel is so strong that you can’t imagine life without your beautiful baby. You wouldn’t want to imagine that life.
Life suddenly means so much more!
Nate and I have amazing days as parents, and we still have rough days. I was actually a little snippy just this morning, as baby Brady has decided that naptime is overrated. ;) But the thing that never changes is that we love each other. We’re still best friends. We’re happy.
Honest to goodness, we’re happy!
AND, maybe most importantly, we’ve learned to say “I’m sorry.” I’ve also learned to be open and honest with Nate in ways I never have before… If I wake up feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional, I tell Nate right off the bat. I realize that he can’t read my mind, so I tell him what I’m feeling. He then showers me with the support – physical and emotional – that I need throughout the day. And I do the same for him.
So even if we’re not “there” yet (as if that place actually exists), I’m super proud of how we’re doing… and of how we always bounce back together after the tough moments that might threaten to pull us apart a bit.
We’re learning. We’re constantly learning what the new normal will be for us and how to make sure we’re spending quality time together. …how to nurture our relationship while caring for our little guy.
So to anyone expecting their first child (or already living in the middle of it), I say this… There will be rough patches, but don’t step into parenthood with fear. Face it with excitement, honesty, and expectation. Realize that it will challenge you, but that the challenge will be worth it. Just as you didn’t wake up nine months pregnant, the journey through parenthood will be one step at a time. One month at a time. One day at a time. You’ll learn along the way; you’ll grow along the way.
Soon enough, you won’t be getting up every two hours, changing diapers every three, and wondering how in the world one tiny little baby can have so much gas. ;) You’ll be sending your baby off to college, facing a quiet home, and wondering what you’ll do now that it’s just the two of you. That’s life. It’s all about change.
And while it’s easy to fight that change, it’s so much more exciting to learn from the good (and the bad) and to view it all as an adventure… An adventure that you can experience together! (I mean, how boring would this blog be if life was easy and predictable, am I right!?!). :)
Yeah, there have been hard days. And I’m not naïve in thinking that those hard days are all behind us… But I can honestly tell you that I love Nate even more today than I did when we said “I do”. And I love my little family so much more than I can put into words. So I’d face those fears all over again in a heartbeat.
It really is SO very worth it!