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Friday, June 3, 2016

Relationships: The first few years of parenting together

Relationships: The first few years of parenting

When I see new parents I always feel compelled to listen to their stories of sleep deprivation, cold coffee, missed dinners and just overall exhaustion. My standard response is "don't worry, it gets easier."  

The truth is, I'm not really sure it does.

What does happen is that your body adjusts to the broken sleep, you learn to like (or at least accept) room temperature coffee, and you can creatively eat dinner while nursing/holding/walking/standing, etc.

It's our perspective that changes, or maybe that's not it. We just evolve into parents and it becomes our new normal.

It was really tough transitioning from married with no kids to married with kids.  I'm sure there are plenty of women that do it with much more grace and poise than I did, but I really did struggle. I liked my time with my husband. I liked being able to up and run to the store, out to dinner or wherever and whatever on a whim.

Don't get me wrong—I love motherhood, but some parts of it have been more difficult than I ever could have imagined.

The hardest thing for me was losing my "old" self and finding my "new" self.

To be honest, I still struggle with that on a regular basis. It's just not as painful or as often as it used to be.

As moms, we have this awesome, intense bond with our kids that no one can ever mirror or come close to competing with. With that also comes the habits, actions, and whatever else that also make me crazy!  

My kids will literally walk past my husband (who will be standing in the kitchen) and find me in the farthest corner of our yard to ask me to get them a glass of milk/snack/Band-Aid/whatever! While I appreciate the fact that I am the best milk getter, snack maker, Band-Aid applier, it can be draining.

Not to mention there are still two other people in my life who need time and attention: my husband and myself.

Since I'm a stay at home mom, I never really feel like my "shift" is over. One task blends into the next and by the end of the day I am spent!  

Honestly, there have been days (many of them) where I have been jealous, even resentful, that my husband gets to go to work. He gets to drive around in a company vehicle, eat alone, pick up a snack if he feels like it, go to the bathroom when he wants, and can listen to something other than kids fighting or Kidz Bop on the radio! As horrible as that sounds, it's the truth.

We've had some really hard times since having kids. Thankfully, we had a pretty strong relationship before kids so we've been able to bounce into our new "normal." That hasn't happened without a lot of talks, tears, fights, and hard feelings.

The hardest part is that no matter how sweet, hardworking or caring my husband is, he will never know what it is like to be a mom.  

On the flip side, I can cuddle, feed, bathe, and care for my kids forever and still never understand what it feels like to be a dad—especially a working one who is the sole income provider for our family.

It's been a long road (5 years) of adjusting to parenting together, and I really do think it's starting to get easier, partly due to our children getting older. We have grown as a couple through parenting and we've made a conscious effort to do things that will maintain our marriage so that we can be successful together.  

Some of things that have worked for us in rebuilding and strengthening our relationship are:
participating in a hobby together (for us this has been dirt biking)

having date nights at home (we tend to have a fire pit date on Saturday nights in our backyard)

communicate (or not, depending on our individual needs) and working towards goals and dreams together.

{{I'll follow up in another post with ideas on how to incorporate similar strategies into your life and relationship, especially for those times when you have NO actual extra time.}}

Let me make this very clear: my husband and I are not perfect.

We don't have the perfect relationship. We still argue and annoy each other. We just have weathered the storm of the first few years of parenting together, and that in itself is a huge feat! I'm proud of us. I'm proud of where we've been,  what we've done, and where we are going. I know that life has seasons and I'm just thankful that we've been able to weather the storms together so far!

What challenges did you and your partner face when first starting out as parents? Are you in the trenches right now and in need of some support?  Are there any tips you can add that have helped your relationship survive and grow?  Leave your answers in the comments!
Check out our other posts about relationships HERE.

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