Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

How a Baby Has Changed My Marriage


There’s a joke that once you have kids, you stop having sex. That isn’t exactly true or there would never be any siblings. Still, there is truth in most clichés, and one of the challenges I’ve found since becoming a mom is simply finding time to be with Drew, just us.

The first three weeks were the hardest. My hormones were so crazy after giving birth and my whole world seemed to turn upside down and I wasn’t getting any sleep and Jackson was screaming non-stop and suddenly I was sharing my favorite person with someone else, someone who, quite frankly, was annoying me much more than he was charming me. Drew hates it when I put it like that, but it’s the truth. I had a hard time connecting to my baby those first few weeks and as much as I loved him and hoped things would get better — they have! — a part of me worried that I had made a mistake, a mistake that was going to really screw up my marriage (it wasn’t and it hasn’t).

Those first few weeks, I would lie in bed and cry and cry, not so much because I was stressed out and exhausted (I was), but because I was so scared nothing would ever be the same (it mostly hasn’t been). What I’ve learned since then is that even though things change, they can still remain pretty great. In fact, in a lot of ways, this particular change has made things better (okay, maybe not everything…see the first sentence).

When I first moved in with Drew over four years ago, we had such a challenge making his bachelor pad our home. We both had to get rid of a lot of things, including a few preconceived ideas of what our home together should look like. Moving into our next apartment was much easier and I’m really proud of how we’ve integrated our individual styles, furniture, and artwork to make a home that reflects us both. And then we had Jackson and it’s like that feeling has blown up. Here’s this person who’s part me and part Drew (and all himself), and that’s an amazing thing. Even now, three months later, we’re still trying to figure out whose features he has (nose, definitely mine; hairline, definitely Drew’s).

Before Jack was born — well, before I got pregnant, really — Drew and I had a weekly tradition. Every Friday, we’d meet for happy hour drinks right after work. We were usually pretty tipsy by six, at which time we might do some early bird karaoke in a private room followed by dinner. We were often home by, like, 8, and maybe even asleep by 11. Not crazy by any means, but we looked forward to it all week and when I got pregnant it was sad to give that up. Sure, I could still do dinner and karaoke, but blowing off steam wasn’t as easy without that Gin and Tonic (or three). It was the first of many “sacrifices” and one I was sad to see go.

But these days, we’re making so many new traditions (and only a few of them involve liquor). I’m cooking a lot more and Drew is taking his lunch to work and we’re using the money we’re saving so we can hire a babysitter every other week or so and go out just the two of us. And those few hours we get alone now are sacred in a way a few hours alone together before weren’t. We appreciate the time more. We make it count. And we feel so oddly grown up hiring a sitter! A few weeks back, we went out to a couple holiday parties and ended up making out in the coat room just because we could. Because there wasn’t a baby outside waiting for us to meet its immediate needs.

Another cool thing has been seeing each other in the role of parent. Oh man, there’s nothing sweeter than watching your significant other feed your baby and play with him and put him to sleep. I always knew Drew would make a great dad, but actually seeing it is something else. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have a partner who is fully an equal in this parenting thing. He gets up with him every time Jack cries at night (he’s bottle-fed) and lets me sleep. He says he enjoys it. When I tell the women in the moms’ group that, they can’t believe it. But Drew says it’s fair because I’m with him all day and I’m working, too — on this site and around the home — so I’m contributing just as much as he is. It’s true — and I have the exhaustion to prove it — but not a lot of men who are the breadwinners for the family would see it that way.

But being with Jackson all day every day means knowing his quirks a little more closely than his father gets to. I know his hunger cry. I know when he’s cold. I know when he’s bored. I know when he just wants to be held and rocked. It can be hard for me then on the weekends when I feel like Drew is questioning what I know. Or when he thinks he knows something better. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I certainly feel defensive. “I’m with him all day!” I say, exasperated. Like I deserve a medal for taking care of my baby.

We’re still figuring it all out: how to balance parenthood and marriage; how to make room for us; how to make room for ourselves. We’re still trying to figure out how to meet Jackson’s needs as well as each other’s. It’s really hard. I’m not even sure it’s possible. But we do the best we can. I ask for help when I need it. I cry when it feels overwhelming. We talk a lot — check in with each other and make sure we’re on the same page. And our situation is easy, relatively speaking. We have each other, for one thing. We have enough money to pay our bills. We eat well. We have good friends and family (though I wish they all lived closer). We have a strong marriage. We can afford an occasional sitter and night out. We have a healthy baby whose needs are not unique.

We’re lucky and it’s still hard. I worry sometimes what will happen to our marriage after years of parenting take their toll, after we potentially add another child to our family. Will we still recognize the things in each other we fell in love with? Will we still have energy left for each other? I’d like to think so. I know I waited a long time to find the person I wanted to build a future with. I gave up my life in Chicago and moved across the country to be with him. And then we gave ourselves years to enjoy just being together before we had a kid. I hope those years gave us a strong enough foundation to withstand the upcoming challenges. I can’t be certain what those challenges will be, but I do know they’ll be worth it. I know this guy is worth it. And that’s good enough for me.

 

 

 

52 comments… add one
  • avatar

    bethany January 11, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! I love your hoensty. I think I’m going to have to read it a couple of times to really absorb it.

    Oh, and Jackson is adorable!! 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy January 11, 2012, 12:21 pm

      Aw, thanks! I don’t think a Mom can ever get tired of hearing that.

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  • avatar

    lk January 11, 2012, 12:12 pm

    thanks, wendy : ) this is really beautiful.

    life, eh?

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl January 11, 2012, 12:16 pm

    It’s refreshing to read something so beautifully written and honest. I feel like a lot of new mothers (at least that I come across) pretend they are super woman and the reality is a new baby is challenging. It’s also awesome to hear about an equal partenership! You guys are awesome.

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  • avatar

    LolaBeans January 11, 2012, 12:17 pm

    awwwwww!! Thanks Wendy. I truly admire your honesty in these posts. And this is one I was especially interested in reading. Not everything is rainbows after you have a baby… But it seems you and drew really appreciate eachother and are doing an amazing job raising Little Jackson!!

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  • avatar

    Annette January 11, 2012, 12:21 pm

    It’s so good to hear how well you are all doing!! So glad Jackson is healthy and even more glad that you and Drew have been able to carve out some time for just the two of you. Aren’t babies so wonderful?!!! Enjoy him!! 🙂

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  • JK

    JK January 11, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Jackson is absolutely gorgeous!

    Loved this Wendy, sounds like you 2 are dealing with parenthood really well.
    After my eldest was born my husband and I were arguing more than ever, it was really tough, and I know it happened with friends of ours as well (I guess the stress, not sleeping, etc add up), after our youngest was born we´re actually getting on better than ever,luckily, sometimes I feel like I´m going crazy as it is, arguing with my husband would not help!!!
    Some ages are harder than others, now my baby is 8 months old, and it has to be all mummy all the time, which is extremely tiring and frustrating (it´s hard to cook/clean/iron, entertain a 4 year old and an 8 month old all at once!!!) The 4 year old is also demanding more and more of me.
    I think sometimes it must be frustrating for fathers to see that a mother can know her child so well (interpreting cries, etc), when it´s harder for them. Not to mention that just by holding our kids they can calm down, when in many cases, dad just doesn´t do the same job.

    Ugh, now I forgot where I was going with this. But another lovely piece Wendy, keep them coming!!! And know that you´re not alone!

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  • landygirl

    Landygirl January 11, 2012, 12:26 pm

    I can totally see his resemblence to you in the second photo. He is adorable, or as my sister used to say when she was little “doorbell”.

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  • avatar

    Flake January 11, 2012, 12:27 pm

    That is a very well-written article. I wish more parents would come out and say how hard it really is, and how it is amazing and satisfying at the same time, to watch yourself, your partner and your kid grow every day. And I will say it again.. Admitting that raising a kid is the most difficult thing I have ever done or attempted to do does not mean that I would change anything in my life.

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  • avatar

    Tanya January 11, 2012, 12:28 pm

    Wonderful essay! I love when you write about your family, it’s very inspiring.
    And please please share with us how you take care of your beautiful hair!

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  • avatar

    cookiesandcream January 11, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I always love your honesty when you’re writing these essays! Jackson is such an adorable baby! But honestly, the first thing that popped into my head when I saw that picture was, “How does Wendy keep her hair looking so good in all of her pictures!”

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy January 11, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Oh, you guys are very sweet. I take a daily multi-vitamin and that seems to do the trick.

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  • avatar

    Nadine January 11, 2012, 12:38 pm

    What a great post! I’m sure it was challenging and revealing to write, and for that I thank you. I havent read anything else quite like it. And thanks for the CUTE pictures!

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  • avatar

    HBomb January 11, 2012, 12:40 pm

    What a sweet, cute baby! I love posts like this. Ones that include honestly on what it is really like to have a life-changing experience.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray January 11, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Really, really lovely, Wendy. Sweet, honest, *and* respectful to your marriage at the same time. (Unless making out in the coat room was supposed to be a secret – ha!) Jackson is one sweet pea. Now more than ever I really want a baby. And also husband. In no particular order. And just when I was starting to be content with my relationship with my tv and hot yoga. Sigh. Also, if I lived in NYC, I’d totally babysit for free. But alas I do not.

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    • Lianne

      Lianne January 11, 2012, 3:08 pm

      Agreed!! On all fronts!! 🙂

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  • Lili

    Lili January 11, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Thanks for your honesty! Its a beautifully written essay, but what stuck out to me the most was the no holds barred look into what parenthood is like. This site is about relationship advice, and I loved your description of your struggles. As a single girl, its easy to glamorize what marriage and parenthood will be like with ‘the perfect one’ however, your glimpse into life after kids was eye opening in ways I can’t describe! Makes me more cautious and ready to MOA with guys I don’t think can or will support me in the same unconditional way during all these various phases of life!

    Thanks again for always being real with us 🙂 I’m glad things are going better now for you and you two really seem to getting into your groove as parents!

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  • avatar

    ForeverYoung January 11, 2012, 12:53 pm

    First of all, Jackson is ridiculously cute!! And I definitely don’t say that about all kids, but holy moly!

    Second, thank you so much for sharing. I think if you and Drew have one thing going for you it’s your realistic and practical outlook on life. You seem to know that it can’t all be rainbows and butterflies and that that’s okay. I am so happy for you that Drew is so supportive. Most of the mothers I know that get bitter from life after a kid – it all seems to be because they feel like they are doing everything, and most of the time they are.

    P.S. I hope at least one of your new traditions involves alcohol 🙂

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 11, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Thank you, thank you! I know I was one recently that specially requested this topic so I feel especially honored that you wrote about it. Your words, as usual, strike a note of genuineness that makes me believe what you say and believe that it can be done –it will be hard and it will be happy, both. It also reminds me that the good habits in your relationship before baby (checking in with each other, being patient, making time for togetherness) are the same skills that carry over after baby.

    My guess is that the bliss/stress ratio is going to develop increasingly in your favor with each month and year of Jack’s life.

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  • avatar

    jaybro January 11, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Echoing everyone else, your openness is awesome and much appreciated.

    Also– making out in the coat closet!? Get it, guuurrrrrrl!!!

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  • avatar

    *HmC* January 11, 2012, 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this Wendy. As an early thirties gal wrestling with the very concept of having a kid, I have to say it’s really interesting to see how a smart, contemporary woman handles the reality of creating this new beautiful life. My friends are all sort of on the verge of having kids, and I don’t have much personal experience with kids, so the issue is of particular fascination to me nowadays. I think it’s brave of you to share what you’ve shared about your marriage and motherhood. You sound like a real, loving family. Very touching.

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  • avatar

    Elle January 11, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Beautiful piece, as always. I’m in awe of Wendy’s strength to always look on the bright side, when things aren’t going as well as expected. And Jackson is adorable!

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  • avatar

    camille905 January 11, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Love, love, love this! My bf and I are living together, plan on getting married this fall, and then have kids….at some point. I worry about how our relationship will change and what kind of parents we’ll be. A lot of our friends already have kids so we’ll have plenty of people to ask of but still.

    I love that you share with us and that you’re real about it. Everything is not rainbows and unicorns but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee January 11, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Wendy, thank you so, so much for writing this! As someone who has years of experience with newborns right on up to bratty teenagers and is planning to open a daycare/preschool in the next two years, I am absolutely terrified of having children of my own. I’m the last person that people expect to hear that from, but I’ve seen the amount of effort, time, and dedication children need, and I’m terrified that my marriage would crumble under the pressure.

    Reading your post made me feel a lot better. My husband is the most down to earth, supportive person I know, and if he’s even as half of supportive as Drew seems to be with you, then I think we will figure it out somehow.

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  • avatar

    AKchic January 11, 2012, 1:51 pm

    The best father/baby moments are the ones where they fall asleep together in a chair or on the couch together. Just watching tv together and *boom*, both fall asleep. Get plenty of pictures at various ages of that. My youngest will be 3 next month, and he still manages to put his Daddy to sleep by falling asleep in his lap in the recliner.

    You’re doing fine and experiencing the “normal” stuff. Just keep taking it one day at a time 🙂

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  • avatar

    SisiSodaPop January 11, 2012, 2:16 pm

    This really makes me feel much less ashamed of the internal turmoil I went through the first few months. It was so difficult – sometimes the non-stop crying definitely “was annoying me much more than (it) was charming me.” I’m sure the lack of sleep / hormones didn’t improve the situation. When my husband didn’t understand why I was frustrated or why I was crying, it only made me feel worse. You’re so lucky to have someone like Drew by your side. Thank you for writing this. I’m sure I’m not the only one it will bring comfort to.

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  • avatar

    Rosie January 11, 2012, 2:40 pm

    I love your personal essays so much. You are such an honest, insightful writer. And my goodness, Jackson is absolutely too adorable for words. That face! Thank you for this piece.

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  • Budj

    Budj January 11, 2012, 2:47 pm

    I would like this for facebook, but DW is kind of my little secret.

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  • avatar

    PFG-SCR January 11, 2012, 3:06 pm

    I don’t always have time to comment on these pieces, but I have thoroughly loved every one of them, Wendy. Like others have said, you’re giving an honest voice to what every mother feels at times. I’ve been a new mother three times, and I’ve had most of the same feelings, thoughts, frustrations, etc. with each new baby.

    After the difficult beginning, it sounds like you’re in a really nice stage with Jackson. Enjoy it, because with kids, there’s always a new challenge.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne January 11, 2012, 3:06 pm

    *sigh* These are my favorite Dear Wendy articles – and I don’t even have kids – or an SO for that matter! Thank you so much for your honesty.

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  • avatar

    Alecia January 11, 2012, 4:36 pm

    I love these posts Wendy. Your insight and candor really shine through. It’s great to know that while being a parent isn’t easy, it’s still wroth it if you’re willing to make the commitment.

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  • avatar

    Emily January 11, 2012, 5:35 pm

    It is crazy to me how I have watched your life change over the past five years (we have known each other five years now, isn’t that weird?) and I love the grace you have in the face of all the changes life throws our way! I am glad to know you and to get to read what you have to say. And I just wanted to tell you that.

    Hope to see you soon! xoxo

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy January 11, 2012, 5:50 pm

      Love you.

      xo

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy January 11, 2012, 5:56 pm

        P.S. I think we’ve known each other six years now. We were both in our 20s when we met!

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      • avatar

        Emily January 12, 2012, 7:40 pm

        I thought it was 2007. But maybe it was more like the summer of 2006! Crazy.

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      • avatar

        Emily January 12, 2012, 7:41 pm

        Twenties… I remember those! (you came to visit me in Roxbury in Feb 2007 so it must have been early 2006 when we met, now that I think about it. Okay that is all figured out. PHEW)

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  • katie

    katie January 11, 2012, 8:46 pm

    wendy, i would just like to tell you thank you for writing all that you do. everything from the response that you gave to my letter to all the things on other letters i read (everyday) and all these little stories about your little guy and your life and marriage. you are so mature and wise and i just feel like i know you, or something, even though i dont. like your a second mother giving me advice on my life.

    you have impacted my life and i want you to know that. i read these things and i know that i will want to apply them to my own life someday. i hope that this website is around for a long time so that i can reference these stories when i am having my own troubles and remember how wendy did it.

    seriously, wendy, thank you so much.

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  • avatar

    Red_Lady January 11, 2012, 9:46 pm

    I just have to say that I love this post! Even though I’m not even close to having a child, when I do think about it happening in the future, I have a lot of these same fears. It’s so wonderful to hear your take on the whole situation. Thank you for sharing!

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  • avatar

    titian January 12, 2012, 8:14 am

    Every time I read one of your columns about Jackson, and navigating the waters of motherhood I feel like I want to write to you. I’m a 34 year old woman who has struggled for the last 2 years with whether I wanted to have children or not, after years of being adamant I did not.

    It seems like everything you write speaks to the heart of my fears and concerns and I just wanted to thank you because your pouring your heart and emotions out to us in these pieces is truly helping me make one of the hardest decisions I’ll ever have to make. Thank you so much.

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  • avatar

    Jillie Z January 12, 2012, 10:24 am

    Wendy – this was wonderful- one of my favorite posts! Thanks for opening up to everybody about such a personal time in your life. i think a lot of first time moms are reluctant to be honest about how hard having a baby really is, so this was very refreshing… i loved the balance. i think it’s terrific that you put yourself out there to start up the new mom group, which i’m sure must be an amazing outlet for you, and it’s so great that you and Drew carve out some alone time (to include making out in closets, sweeeet!). i have friends that didn’t go out with their husbands alone for at least a year, and you could tell what a toll it took on their relationship. And as everyone has been saying, both you and Jackson are looking awesome!

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  • avatar

    Katy Rockwell January 12, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Wendy, it’s so cool to read your posts while going through the same time myself. My husband and I had a shot gun wedding so we’re navigating the first year of parenthood and the first year of marriage at the same time! So much joy and so much to figure it out. I was the one who sent you wedding pictures after the initial desperate email for help. I was due around the same time as you with my son but unlike you who went early- I went wayyy late. My son was born on 11/13, and oh god- I thought I would be pregnant for the rest of my damn life.
    I really really relate to everything you’ve written about parenthood. Especially the first few weeks and I am so glad you’re TALKING ABOUT IT. Nobody talks about it really and it feels so awful. Like you’re already failing. I’ve been trying to warn my friends about it now- what I wish I knew before baby Wyatt! I think it comes down to, Do not panic if bonding is not happening the way you envisioned it, it is still happening…
    Wyatt was MAD when he came out, he didn’t drop until the very end when it was time to push- and then the pushing was very fast, about two contractions, and when he came out- he was ANGRY about it. The nurses told me that it was normal, that babies were really surprised when they came out so fast- but he just wouldn’t stop crying. I was exhausted after a day and a half in labor and wanted to sleep and asked them to keep him at the nurses station for a few hours that night- and felt awful. I had just met my son, and I already needed a break.
    The first week was kind of like that. I was just so scared of him, and the permanence of his existence and it was all so scary and overwhelming and the entire day and a half we were in the hospital he was just SO MAD. And would only quiet down for ben. After awhile I turned to ben and said “He hates me. He absolutely hates me” and ben got really concerned about it, “Katy- you can’t say things like that. Of course he doesn’t.”
    But at the time? It really felt like he did.
    I thought he was beautiful and amazing and was really proud but the bonding thing I thought was going to kick in the second they dropped him on my stomach- didn’t. And that made me panic and feel awful and it was this secret shame I had for the entire week. I was petrified everytime I was alone with Wyatt and just the thought of dressing him alone made me shake. It was so isolating a feeling, What is wrong with me? Why am I not connecting with my baby?! It took about a week and a half until I realized that feeling was completely gone replaced by this abundant joy and love and sweetness, but I still remember the feeling and the shame and guilt that came with it. It didn’t make me a monster, or a bad mother, or deranged. It’s a process, and it’s not exactly like you read about or like you see on t.v and I’d never heard anyone who didn’t talk about this instantanious feeling and instincts kicking in and didn’t know that I wasn’t the only one who had gone through it.
    I wish I had known that it was OKAY to feel that way, and that it wasn’t always going to feel that way, and that it didnt make me a monster or a bad mother or deranged. But, oh doesn’t it get better?

    I couldn’t have imagined the feeling of being a mother. Could you? It’s so wonderful. It’s so magic. Isn’t it? Oh god, it’s so hard to put it into words because it isn’t wotds really- it’s Moments. Kissing his forehead and humming to him while he settles down and just relaxes into this baby bread dough of snuggles and feeling like- Finally. He is Here. He is Real. He is Whole. Wow. It’s this overwhelming feeling of amazement and like awe, and holy shit- I birthed you, you GREW INSIDE ME and are Real. I had such a disconnect in my pregnancy I think now. There was such a surrealism to the whole experience so I think that while intellectually realizing I was making a person and that there was soon going to be a Baby- having a child seemed like it was happening in way like I realize I will be buying a house at some point- it’s real, it’s a plan, it’s the goal but um, who knows, things happened, cannot picture what the day to day reality of that would be.
    And now? Oh man. There’s a baby! 2 feet from me! Smiling! At me!!!! And he’s ours all ours and. Look honey, he’s so funny! What do you think he thinks about? How does he eat so much! Did you see that last diaper? Giddy conversation and trying not to wake him up during the transfer from Ben and falling asleep forehead to forehead. Or those times when I realize that I have made him stop crying and no one but me could have done it and he wanted! His Mommy! Which is… Me! So satisfying on like a cellular level.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dearwendy January 13, 2012, 9:41 am

      I remember you. Congrats on your baby! Send me a picture some time.

      Reply Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 12, 2012, 4:24 pm

    I love your baby photos and the way Jackson looks right into the camera on the bottom one. It’s hard to believe how much he’s changed already in only three months.

    For some reason your updates remind me of the man who wrote in whose wife wasn’t interested in sex and romance. They had an infant and toddler and you can imagine that the stress level was high and that the wife was exhausted and probably on birth control that may have lowered what little libido she had and the husband complained about it all. I keep thinking about him and how if he just gave it time the kids would grow up a little and his wife wouldn’t be so exhausted and she would probably begin to enjoy some romance and sex.

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  • avatar

    Sarah January 12, 2012, 4:54 pm

    I love this, and not just because the coat room you made out in was ours. When you guys closed the door, someone actually said to me, “Those people just went in the coat room and closed the door!” (not because my friends are narcs, but we had an incident at a party a few years ago where a couple no one knew locked themselves in my bathroom to have sex for a few hours). I said, “Oh, that’s Wendy and Drew, they’re married… probably calling their sitter.” I love that I was so wrong.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy January 12, 2012, 5:18 pm

      Busted. (The other party we went to had a coat room, too. We were in that one a little longer. But we were a little drunker by then.).

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  • avatar

    Leslie January 12, 2012, 7:18 pm

    What a wonderfully honest post Wendy!

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  • avatar

    Ms.Irish January 12, 2012, 10:58 pm

    Loved this. Thank you.

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  • avatar

    mcj2011 January 13, 2012, 10:31 am

    Great essay! It sounds like you & Drew have a great marriage – continue doing what you are doing.

    Jackson is ADORABLE!

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  • avatar

    ape_escape January 14, 2012, 6:19 am

    Love this, obviously. On that note…when do we get to hear from Drew?? It would be fun to get Dad’s thoughts/experiences! I would think that yall are feeling the changes in slightly different ways. Just a thought!

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    • avatar

      WatersEdge January 14, 2012, 10:54 am

      I second this! Same title, just written by Drew.

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  • avatar

    Claire January 15, 2012, 11:06 am

    Thank you for that wonderful essay. Between my husband and I, we have 3 children (we’re both under 30). Our oldest is his from a past relationship, and together we have 2 kids who are both still in diapers. My husband works around 70 hours/week and I’m a homemaker. Everything you were writing about are feelings I can relate to. It’s hard to vocalize the fear and frustration that mothers face because (I believe) that we’re afraid people are judging us for not always being Sally Sunshines. Mother’s are supposed to be “on” at all times and shouldn’t ever feel anything negative about their children….even though the negativity is simply rooted in fear or exhaustion.

    Having children absolutely changes a marriage. Something I’ve learned is that I have to make an extra effort to “turn off the mom” and “turn on the wife.” And that’s a tough thing to do. It’s easy to forget that my husband needs his wife, along with my children needing their mommy. I think I’ve found a way, though. I figured out that I needed more in my life than just being someone’s mommy/chef/housekeeper/fixer of toys/healer of boo-boos/etc. I figured out that if I do something that’s 100% for me, then I can more easily compartmentalize my various roles. I can be a mother when I need to be and a wife when I want to be if I can go be Claire for Claire’s sake only….even if it’s for a couple hours a week. So I enrolled in school. That may sound simplistic, but doing it has really changed my attitude concerning my worth as a person, which in turn has helped changed my attitude towards my marriage. If I can shut the mommy off for a few hours a week to work on getting my degree, then I can certainly turn the mommy off in order to strengthen my relationship with the person I chose over all others- my kind and loving husband.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I believe mothers can “have it all” if they’re willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto themselves.

    And by the way, your son is beautiful.

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    Patty February 17, 2012, 9:03 am

    Hi Wendy:
    I haven’t commented on your blog in a long time. However, I really appreciated this post because parenting is such a challenging, life-changing experience–I think we all need to share our honest stories with each other. Although my kids are a lot older that your little cute one, I remember very well the rude awakening to parenthood in which it took me an entire year just to regain my equilibrium and feel like the parts of my life were re-imagined and put back in place in a new way. I learned to lower the bar (clean laundry might sit in the basket for week; I might not get a thank you note out for 2 weeks; my weekends are no longer just about fun–had to deal with that). While my husband is a lot like yours in terms of parenting, it still was a huge transition. Two pieces of advice that people gave me in the early years have stuck with me: babies have a lot of physical needs–constantly. As the baby gets older, the physical needs diminish but the emotional needs are on the rise. So, as a parent–you will always be tending to their needs, but the nature of those needs change–physical demands vs. emotional/social ones. My kids have good manners, make their beds, know how to treat others, etc. but only because we’ve worked every day over the years to instill those values. Secondly, someone once told me that babysitters are cheaper than marriage counseling. So, like you, we always put room in our budget and our lives for going out, just the two of us. Once a month was our goal–sometimes twice if we could swing it. Even a weekend vacation (with kids left with relatives)–we made sure we put that into our lives once a year when the kids were really young. It was fun rediscovering why we fell in love with each other. Our kids always, always had early bedtimes–so we had a few hours at night to connect with each other or just have time for ourselves. Even now–they have to be upstairs in bed reading by 9pm (they are ages 8 and 11). Congrats on being a new mom—you are doing wonderfully.

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