Just weeks after I found out that I was pregnant, I experienced a momentary pang of sadness… As ecstatic as I was to realize that there was a sweet little baby on the way, I also understood that – in 9 months time – it wouldn’t be just me and Nate anymore. And although Nate and I were both more than ready to set out on the challenging – yet rewarding – adventures of parenthood, I struggled a bit with the realization that our relationship was now going to be adjusted in order to make room for the roles of ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’.
‘You and Me’ was about to become ‘Us Three’.
The past six years of being married to Nate have been six of the most amazing, magical years of my life. He’s my best friend. He’s the one who ‘gets me’ when no one else does. He truly knows who I am and what I’m feeling… and he still loves me despite of it and because of it. He’s the only person I could spend countless hours with and not need a break. He’s the one who builds me up and believes in me, even on the days when I can’t believe in myself. He inspires me, encourages me to reach for my dreams, and he makes me laugh.
Oh, how he makes me laugh!
He’s an amazing kisser, an incredible hugger, and my favorite cuddle-buddy at the end of a long day.
For a brief moment, I struggled with how our relationship was going to change. I can only imagine that 3am feedings, countless diaper changes, homework, bath-times, sports schedules, and just the 24-hour responsibility that is being a parent puts a strain on a marriage. It’s suddenly not just ‘you and me’ anymore.
And I honestly felt so incredibly guilty when I first experienced these feelings, because I wondered what kind of mommy-to-be would struggle with this.
I quickly discovered that I wasn’t alone, however. It’s actually quite normal. It’s normal to struggle with change, and my pang of sadness over saying ‘goodbye’ to the incredible life I’d known didn’t mean that I was any less excited about the next adventure ahead. Because while I truly wanted – and looked forward – to this next chapter, I had also absolutely loved the previous chapter.
Oftentimes, change just isn’t easy, even if you’re ushering in something amazing.
Since then, I’ve received some amazing advice from seasoned, married couples who assured us that our marriage can remain strong, intimate, and loving, even as we have a child and raise him up in a caring, loving home. Even if things are going to change. It’s just going to take a little bit of extra work (mostly dedication). We have to be dedicated to making sure that our marriage still comes first and that we make time for date nights and quality time. (And – they’ve told us – our kids will be happier because of it, as they are raised in a home with parents who are in love… and who have made time to regroup and to refresh. Because, let’s face it, if mommy ain’t happy… well, you know how the rest of that saying goes!).
Looking back, I can see this same model represented in the way my parents raised me, my brother, and my sister. We never doubted, for one second, that my parents loved us unconditionally, that they would do anything for us, and that they made sacrifices for us. But at the same time, Mommy and Daddy were a team. There was no asking Mommy a question, receiving ‘no’ for an answer, and then trying to get Daddy to say ‘yes’. Mommy and Daddy had each other’s backs, went on date nights at least once a month, held hands during our afternoon walks, and laughed together endlessly.
And for me – as I woke up on Sunday mornings and found them sitting together in the living room, talking over steaming cups of coffee – the unshakeable love they had for each other meant security at home. I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Even as a little girl, the love I saw between them filled me with warmth and happiness!
My parents worked hard to make sure their marriage still came first. And now, 31 years later, they’re closer than ever. While some couples find themselves married to – and living with – ‘strangers’ once their children leave the nest, my parents are embracing their newfound ‘you and me’ time. They go on dates together (and, yes, my mom still gets all dressed up for my dad). 🙂 They’ve enjoyed some simple vacations. And they even dream of home renovations as they dream of retired life spent together.
At the end of the day, marriage always takes work, even if kids aren’t in the picture. A marriage with kids just might take a bit (or a lot) more effort in order to keep the romance and friendship alive. But I know that it will be worth fighting for, even during the seasons that might leave us feeling not-so-close. And it will be worth it – not only for me and Nate – but also for baby Brady who will arrive so very soon! (YAY, I just cannot wait to meet him)! And even if it will be a challenge, it will be an amazing challenge that we will make a priority.
And maybe one day – when Brady is older, married, and about to become a parent himself – he’ll look back on his childhood and know that he and his wife will be okay too. Because he’ll remember growing up in a loving family where the mommy and daddy always made time for him… and for each other! 🙂
Fun Fact: The location for this 39-week photo shoot is where Nate and I had our first kiss. 🙂