Some time before Aubrey was born, I recall writing a post about all of the unsolicited advice I was receiving from a specific individual, and one of these pieces of advice was that my marriage was going to suffer as a result of having a child. I was irritated by it because I thought "what? Not possible! A child is a blessing. Surely, a child couldn't cause any problems in a marriage. That person is just trying to bring me down."
And I'm not here to say that a child causes issues in marriage. A child is a blessing. A gift from God in every way.
However, change and adjustment to change? That's a whole other story.
We're quickly coming upon Aubrey's 1st birthday on February 15th. This year has been the craziest of my life - so many blessings, so many amazing things have happened. We have this beautiful little girl, someone WE created, someone who never ceases to amaze us every single day. This year has also be a crazy one, full of moments of "what the hell are we doing?" or "is this the right thing? Should I be doing something differently?" "Am I a bad parent?"
This year, I'm not going to lie, has also been the toughest year in my relationship with T. It's something that has gone unspoken by both of us, but it has. We're not giving up, we're not calling it a day, but we still are having our moments, our fights, our struggles.
The five months of sleep deprivation were hell. It's truly hard to be cordial to someone you are around 24/7 when neither of you is getting anything more than two hours of sleep at a time, seven days a week, for months on end. Words are said. Things you would never say to that person in a million years or at least words you never would have thought would come out of your mouth. But it's out of pure exhaustion and overwhelming stress. You keep hearing "oh it gets easier," and you want to physically hurt the person telling you that. But...it does get easier. Sleep does come eventually, and slowly you work back to being nice.
It's stressful. It just is. Our ability to come and go as we please is gone. We no longer can just pick up and go. It involves packing up what seems to be the entire house and planning our outings around her feedings and nap schedule. Going out to dinner alone is something planned months in advance, and going out to dinner as a family involves constant distracting of the baby so as to not irritate other customers around you when she fusses. It's being needed by another person 24/7, someone who can't help themselves, and somewhere along the way, it's all too easy to put that little person first before yourself and before your marriage.
T and I still work to find that balance. Before Aubrey came into this world, there was "us." And when Aubrey moves out onto her own someday, there will be "us." And we need to focus on that. "Us." We don't lose sight of that, and we constantly work on it. But it hasn't been and isn't something that just clicks automatically when that baby is placed into your arms. It's a learning process, and well....we're still learning.
I read an article recently that said most people focus so much on the wedding day and the happily ever after that they don't realize what marriage really is all about. It's about work. It's about putting that person before yourself at times. It's about sacrificing your selfish needs for the betterment of your marriage. Throw a child into the mix, and it's a whole other ballgame. Actually, more of a juggling act.
It's a lot of change, and change is hard. Everyone responds to change in different ways. Some people roll with it. I envy those people, and I know T does, too. We both happen to be particularly headstrong and stubborn people. So change for us isn't automatic. But we're being smart about it and talk it out. And recognize when that change needs to be addressed.
I know we both fear what happens to so many couples. We see it all around us. Having a child changes everything. It doesn't "fix" things. It simply changes the dynamic. Some couples forget to focus on each other as well as the family unit, and they become roommates. They become parents who work day-to-day on taking care of a child, mindlessly shuffling around each other in a house they share. They lose that communication and intimacy. They lose each other somewhere along the way, and by the time they realize what has happened, it is far too late.
It's affected someone I love and someone close to me recently. My brother has gone through something more complicated than just that, but it's also quite similar to what I described. After almost sixteen of marriage, the union he thought would be forever no longer is that. Somewhere along the line they lost each other. And for him, looking back, it's hard to see exactly when that happened. Or why it happened. It just slowly happened, and before he knew it, it was gone.
I vow to do all I have in my power to ensure that doesn't happen. This morning, as I was driving to work, Jason Mraz's song "I won't give up on us" came on, and I listened to the words more closely than I do any normal song. "I won't give up on us. Even if the skies get rough. I'm giving you all I've got, and I'm still looking up."
I'm not normally this open and this personal on my blog, and I'm not going to lie, I didn't run this one past T. So I may possibly take it down if asked. He and I are strong. He and I are resilient. Aubrey is the one of the best things that has happened to us, but before that, something even better happened to us. We met each other; we became one. That is the best thing that ever happened to me. Saying yes to his proposal was hands down the easiest question I have ever answered, and I would still say yes as quickly as I did if asked today. As I look back on this last year as parents, I smile. I smile at all we have learned, how far we have come. I don't focus on those bad times. Because all couples have them. I look ahead to what the future has in store for us, and I look at all we have worked for. I'm giving it all I've got, and I'm still looking up.
God bless you, Aubrey, for every blessing you have brought into our lives. You are our miracle, our little monkey, the best part of the two of us. I can't wait to see the amazing adult you will be.
And God bless you, T. You are hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me. Though I snap, though I'm anxious, though I start fights over the dumbest things out of stress and exhaustion, I love you more than you will ever know. I won't give up on us. I'm giving it all I got, and I'm still looking up.