Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Amazing Survivor Race Challenge: Parenting Edition

Babies are hard on a marriage.

It's sort of ironic, really, seeing as babies are so often understood (rightly or wrongly) to represent core bonds of a life partnership, but still: for every measure of centripetal force that they exert upon a relationship and bind partners more closely, babies exert a half measure - maybe more - of centrifugal force, pulling those partners away from their center. It's true. If I understood Newtonian physics well enough to explain it fully, I would, but I don't, so just trust me on this: babies bring couples closer together and pull them apart in a million teeny tiny and not so teeny tiny ways, and the yank and tug of this phenomenon can exert an uncomfortable pressure upon a spousal partnership.

Pets do not have this effect, I've noticed, possibly because you can just put them out in the yard when they start to get difficult. You cannot do this with babies. When caring for babies gets difficult, you can only turn to your partner (if you have one - I cannot begin to address single parenthood here, other than to say that I have NO IDEA how people do that. Superheroes, seriously) and negotiate some means of coping and hope to hell that you can figure this shit out together. So when the moments come - and they do come - when you realize that you are not figuring this shit out together - that you're either not figuring it out together, or you're not figuring it out, period - it can be hard. You can put it down to lack of sleep, to lack of alone time, to sheer exhaustion, but it still feels the same: you're struggling. And you're not always struggling together. And in those moments when you're struggling apart... those moments feel isolating. Lonely.

The first baby isn't - I don't think - as hard on the relationship as the second: with your first baby, the novelty of the situation can cause you to overlook or ignore the fact that you and your spouse are almost never together alone, that you almost never sleep, that your romantic dinners for two have become mac-and-cheese for three, that your bed has become the gathering place for a tangle of toddler and toys and cats. The first baby can be a great romantic quest, like backpacking together through Europe - full of all variety of trials and discomforts, but nonetheless an adventure, one that is full of new experiences that you are sharing! Together! So who cares if the hostels are crowded or you're eating bad food or the pack on your back is crippling you with its weight? You're having an adventure together, and it is awesome.

But when the second baby comes along, you've been there and done that and sent the postcards and you're just not as open to feeling romantic about this whole journey as a quote-unquote adventure. The novelty has worn off. The hostel conditions - the noise, the squalor, the bathroom shared with too many other, messy people - no longer represent adventure, and their effect on you - sleeplessness, disorientation - is harder to bear. You're still thrilled to be doing this again - you love so much about this journey - but you're older now, and more tired, and the sleepless nights and bad food wear you down so much more quickly and so you look at each other and you both wonder why the other hasn't booked you into a plush hotel already.

And this is where everything - including the extended travel metaphor - breaks down, because there are no plush hotels in New Parentland. New Parentland is not a backpacker's Europe; it's not even the outer reaches of the former Soviet Union, where at least they have beds and a limitless supply of vodka. New Parentland is more like a deserted island. It's survival conditions, no matter who you are, unless you have the means and the foresight to have brought an entourage that will attend to your basic needs and forage for your food. There's no straightforward solution to your discomfort here; there are no resources beyond what you can gather and/or jerryrig together. Neither you nor your travelling companion has it within their power to make things easy. With the first child, if you're lucky, this is like Blue Lagoon: you're so enthralled with the romance of the situation that you don't care that you are - figuratively - wearing loincloths and drinking out of coconuts. You might even find that kind of thing sexy. But by the time you're on baby number two? The loincloths are starting to feel scratchy and you're sunburnt and sleeping on the sand is making your back hurt and that other person is eating your coconut, dammit. You are on Survivor: Child Island and it's only a matter of time before you turn on each other.

My husband and I haven't turned on each other (*knocks wood*), and we wouldn't reverse the steps that brought us here to our own, personal Child Island. We find pleasure in this place; we bask in the sunshine here. But still: we find it challenging, coping with the hardship. I find it challenging. Once the chores are done and the children are tended to and this place falls silent, I am so exhausted, so spent and worn, that I want only to crawl under the blankets and escape - with a book, with some Ativan - and rest and I know that he experiences this as a withdrawal. But then I - perversely - resent him for experiencing it as withdrawal. I'm so tired, I tell myself. This is so hard. He should get that. I tell him that this is so hard and that I am so tired and he tells me that he is tired too and instead of feeling sympathy, I feel frustration. It's harder for me, I think, and the resentment starts to burble. And then I catch myself and tell myself that hard is hard is hard and just because I have spent whole days and nights on my own wrangling our two creatures and lived to tell about it doesn't mean that he can manage the same thing and in any case he gets up at night and first thing in the morning with the baby, right? And then I think, maybe if we just had some time together, just the two of us - or better, what if I had some time for me, just me, alone, and THEN we had some together just the two of us ?- but then I immediately think, why doesn't he make that happen? Why must it be ME?

And then I worry us about turning on each other. I worry about even considering the possibility that we might turn on each other, because once upon a time - in the carefree days before we embarked upon this strange and wonderful and impossibly challenging journey - I would not have imagined for a second that we could turn on each other, that we could be anything other than perfect allies. (This is the tragic innocence, to borrow another pop culture analogy, of couples on the Amazing Race; the bluster behind their bold claims, before running a single step, of being a brilliant team, of knowing that they'll work together perfectly, masterfully, that they will, as a unit, dominate the race. This bluster invariably end in shouts and tears in the empty corridors of this airport or across the field of that Road Block challenge, and we the audience murmur, from the security of our armchairs, that we knew that they would fall apart and, also, that wouldn't happen to us.) We are allies, my husband and I, we are, but that I doubt our alliance for even a second weighs upon me heavily, presses the air from my lungs.

It weighs upon me, because how could I feel any doubt? He is wonderful, my husband, really wonderful, and I love him so much and am so, so lucky to have him as my partner. But, still, also, there is this: I am tired, and I want to be carried, just for a little while, just until I get my strength back. And this is where the doubt resides: in my fear that he might be getting tired of carrying me, that although I know he will give me his last coconut, he might resent doing so. That I might resent his resenting doing so. That that resentment might build, and that we'll end up yelling at each other across the crowded airport corridor that is family life or turning on each other in our own personal Tribal Council. That I want a day off, alone, just by myself, just taking care of myself, more than I want a day alone with my husband - and that I want him to want that - hurts my heart, in a way, because I do want time alone with him, just me and him, with no children attached to our bodies and no cries ringing in our ears, time to reinforce our alliance, our team, so that we can continue to endure the challenges of this island, this race, this reality, with grace and humor. I really, really do. I just need to be rested first. I just need to be carried for a while, or allowed to stop and rest.

We've come this far together. We know that our alliance, our partnership, is the key to everything. Our alliance, and maybe a few naps, some liquor and an all-expenses-paid holiday somewhere warm, with soft beds and babysitters and, yes, coconuts.

That's all.

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118 Comments:

Anonymous Natasha said...

The second baby was by far the hardest. I love your hostel metaphor.

And you're wrong about pets not tearing a marriage apart. This dog has been the worst thing to happen to us since the last worst thing to happen to us. You can put them out in the hard but they literally crap there, then tear up the grass, scratch the paint off the door and annoy the neighbors. At least babies are cute.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Domestic Extraordinaire said...

wow, what a great post.

You have really summed it all up. It does get easier and then you enter the teenage years!

((((Catherine))))))

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Natasha said...

Why must the letter H be so close to the letter Y? Just to make me look stupid, I'm sure.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

So achingly, familiarly true, this.

Someone once told me that, if you look closely at the infamous 7-year-itch, it generally coincides with the timing of several young children in the marriage.

But the children grow and it does get easier. It really does: just as long as you don't lose total sight of one another across the crowded airport.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

A great post. Baby boy #2 was far harder on the marriage than baby boy #1 and it's amazing how many folks would agree with that assessment.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

And by "several young children in the marriage" I, of course, meant "several young children added to the mix."

Having babies also kills brain cells. It's true. I just can't remember where I read it. ;)

2:13 PM  
Blogger Tere said...

My husband did not get it. And we turned on each other. I'll be divorced before the Summer hits.

Of course, there were more reasons, but this was one, a big one.

Good post.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous crunchy said...

Really good post...you did it!

I found the 2nd babe easier even though she was harder and never slept..we were prepared and aware of what we needed to do for ourselves and the obnoxious baby that never slept. EVER

The resentment waxes and wains I think...comes and goes...as does the guilt.

You may some days feel a silence between you and fear it..but then the dam breaks and you find out that they feel the same as you and all is okay...

Or not, I suppose...

We are prepping for the third..so it can't be all bad.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

This is so opposite to what everyone says because I found baby #2 far far easier than baby #1.
But, you're right that kids make the marriage hard.
For us our struggle is still with our older child - and because we're going to a psychologist to deal with his issues (ADHD maybe? we find out soon) we keep being reminded that if we fight over his behaviour it makes his behaviour worse.
I still keep wondering when I get a break? I love my kids every moment, but I'm tired too.

2:28 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I imagine that what I'm about to say will be wildly unpopular. It's not something that we are supposed to say. In fact we say the exact opposite ALL THE TIME.

But, part of my job is representing people who are getting divorced. Helping people get divorced. And as much as we constantly tell children that it's not their fault that mommy and daddy are getting divorced...honestly, it often is. I mean, it's not the children have done anything other than just BE children. But the existence of the children...leads to the divorce. Sad, but true.

I know that I have a biased viewpoint (I am dealing with people who have already decided they want a divorce), but it does seem like, children (and again, not the children themselves, but the mere presence of children) can suck the life out of a marriage...

I really, I don't know how many times I've heard, "I had an affair because I needed to just feel like me again" or "he had an affair while I was busy with the kids" or "the only thing we have left in common is the kids and I just don't love him/her anymore." Trying to parent children can suck your soul of your marriage away.

And as much as you want him to want you to have a day alone, odds are, he doesn't see it that way. What he probably wants is to have a day alone with you. However, I would bet that if you took a day to yourself in order to be able to then take a day alone with him, he would probably be supportive. (Problematically, it is extremely hard to take a day to yourself when you are nursing a baby.) But if you need time alone in order to give time to him, DO IT. Find a way. Without intimacy, marriages die.

2:31 PM  
Blogger kristi said...

I think #1 was hardest for us. Because we were still newlyweds practically. I poured all of my love into our daughter and he stood at the sidelines whining, "What about me?"

Let me say that I work full time and still do almost all of the house cleaning and child rearing. It isn't fair but it is how it is.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

Wonderfully said!
There is no doubt that the second child is harder. For me there was the added resentment of my husband literally ignoring the second born for upwards of three months. With the first we argued about who would get to hold her next and wrestled her from each other, with the second it was all me, all the time, and even when I escaped to the shower he would pace the hallway outside the bathroom door waiting for me to get out.

Sleep helps, but so does carving time out for the two of you. Even if you're tired, I can't tell you what a night out without kids and with the person you love can do for morale. And don't be resentful of him not making that move. Men are most definitely not mind readers and he might think that you're not ready for that time away...

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Lucie @ Unconventional Origins said...

#1 has brought up a lot of these issues, especially when it comes to the, er, physical side of our relationship. Baby weight can weigh down a relationship too, I guess.

Of course now I am just scared as all hell about number two!

Thanks for sharing your experiences for those of us who haven't taken that second adventure yet.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Don't Lick The Ferrets! said...

I think you just summed up the reason many of us end up divorced...at least you two are getting it right!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Marriage (Life-Partner Alliance), in my opinion, seems to experience more pressure with each additional child. Although it may be very different for other couples, my husband and I had to (have to, daily) figure out how to distribute the additional work in such a way that feels both equitable and manageable. Having experienced one Separation (to date) we have learned that raising a family together requires a reformulation of roles, responsibilities and expectations of one another. Constantly. For us, the only way to avoid The Tribal Counsel is continually revising the Game Plan.

Which does not add to the pressure of parenting 3 young children or maintaining a loving relationship At. All. Pfft. What, with both my husband and I being so well-rested, capable of logical thought, emotionally balanced, well-mannered and self-sacrificing in any and all tension-ridden circumstance(s)...

Try as we might, the truth is: we are both clinging to the very Edge by our fingernails, hoping to Key-Riest we can hang on for just One More Day. Having known one another for 20 years, this seems the greatest act of love we can manage right now. That, and never forgetting to fetch the other a cocktail or beer each time we visit (or pass) the kitchen.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

#2 was MUCH easier for me, but I had PPD with #1 and Zoloft with #2, so that could be very skewed.

My question, though, is where are all the people who are supposed to be helping you? Not just you, HBM, but ALL of you? Trade babysitting with a friend so that you can each enjoy time off - do it during the day when the husbands are off at work so that you can get your "me time." Local relatives are awesome. Shamelessly exploit their willingness to babysit.

Go to the local high school or college and post a flier for a babysitter. Interview the kids and pick the one that seems the least insane (be sure to Google). Join a Mom's club. I hear the moms are in one room and the kids are in another, at least that's how it is at my local MOPS.

If you can't find anyone to watch them, here are some ideas... Start going to church just for the opportunity to put the kids in the childcare room and sit quietly for an hour. I won't even tell if you sit outside instead of in the sanctuary!! Put the kids in preschool as soon as humanly possible. See if that church you go to has a "Mommy's Time Out" program. For $6 I can take my younger child to "school" while my older child is in school for 2.5 hours. And it's during the day so Daddy isn't there demanding my attention, too.

One of the best things I ever did was to sign my kids up for gymnastics - not only do we get out of the house for the classes, but we also get to go to Open Gym at a reduced cost. I can stand around and talk to other adults while they run out all their energy. Win/win.

Take them to the mall and let them play on the playplace. Just be sure to take hand sanitizer. You don't have to buy anything. Take a book, or check e-mail on your cell phone. Treat yourself to a foofoo coffee.

Sometimes I think that we make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be by being unwilling or unable to ask for help. The moment I learned that it is OK to need help my life as a mother got MUCH easier. The other big "Aha" moment was when I realized that being a stay at home mom didn't mean that I had to literally stay at home.

You don't have to do it all by yourself. You're not supposed to. It's not good for you, your marriage, or your kids. It takes a village, etc.

You've identified what you need (time to yourselves, time with your spouses) so do what it takes to make it happen. There's a reason why so few martyrs enjoyed happy marriages, girls.

Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

2:45 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I really thought baby #2 would easier. You hit the nail on the head when you said that the romance had worn off. I thought I was prepared this time since I had done it once. I guess it really is true that babies aren't the same. My husband and I are in the same boat right now. I pray that we will make it through and I pray the same for you. I feel better knowing I'm not the only one feeling this way, but I wish you didn't have to go through it

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get frustrated with people that keep suggesting "go out as a couple" and "get some alone time." Some of us have very few childcare options and are not about to leave our young kids with some random high school or college student. It's great if YOU have options that allow for "date nights" etc. but don't assume that all couples have that. I don't really see how sitting in church or having to supervise my kids at the mall is going to make coupledom so much happier.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I think Amy is echoing what HBM said: sometimes we need time to ourselves before we are able to give to our mates. And frankly, sometimes it amazes me at how little time I actually need to myself to refresh me. Perhaps it is because we don't get it that often, but even a little bit of "me" time is refreshing. And that little bit can make me more receptive to spending time with my husband.

Not that there is much time to be spent. We seem to have a half hour between the toddler's bedtime and us needed to crawl into bed with the newborn. But still. Every little bit helps.

Even just turning off the electronics (I am more guilty of this than he is) and just talking for a few minutes.

Boy, isn't this all different than you thought it would be before you had kids?

3:06 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

One of the best things David and I did was plan a trip to Mexico with just ourselves this past December. My inlaws came to stay with the kids and we took off.

It was unbelievably reaffirming to know that we can be a couple still, independent of our kids.

If it's at all a possibility for you in the next year, I'd highly recommend it.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

It seems to me that the really toxic combination is a baby (or two) plus the demands of what has come to seem like a normal workplace. Babies can put stress on any marriage, but if both parents are home by 5:30 (and not expected to work on weekends), that makes a world of difference.

3:50 PM  
OpenID katydid6 said...

Beautifully and honestly written! I love my husband dearly, and I know that he is more supportive and helpful than most other spouses I know, but it's still hard, it still sucks a lot, and I still find myself resentful.

Like right now, when he announced he was going "to take a dump and then take a shower." God help me if I don't time my poohs for when the children aren't around. The 6 year old is banging on the door and the 18-month-old is in the bathroom with me trying to wipe me and flushing the toilet before I'm done. And I never just randomly decide to take a shower - it must be scheduled just like the poohs.

My heart ached at the part where you worried that your husband might get tired of carrying you. I had never thought of it, but that's the underlying feeling I have when we're stuck in the pissing match of which parent has it harder at the moment.

Thanks for putting it all out there.

4:00 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I think we were lucky in that our first baby was harder than our second for the first three months... and even then, one of the fundamental problems resolved itself when he started to sleep through the night meaning we got some normal sleep. And we try to encourage each other to take a little time to ourselves when we can get it. It's not frequent, and I could definitely use more of it, but it's something.

Of course, I suspect all bets may be off come June when we welcome our third and final wee one. Because then we will truly be outnumbered. shudder

4:11 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Bea - the getting home at 5:30 thing? YES. That my husband sometimes works impossibly long hours and I work more or less full-time, from home, while caring for kids and so doing much of that work in the evenings... that makes it all the harder.

We need us some Nannies Friday...

4:30 PM  
Blogger Amo said...

I know exactly how you feel. For the first time in my life, I am recognizing that I am getting depressed. Sure, it might have something to do with my mom dying, suddenly, and before we could make amends for years of turmoil. Moving away from all of my family and friends just weeks after her death and right before Christmas. The fact that my husband has been working too much since we moved and I'm more alone than I have ever been, certainly isn't helping matters. Also, he didn't get me anything for my birthday, Christmas or Valentines day; which it isn't the lack of the gift, but the gesture that hurts.

I have been single parenting since he moved for his work back in May and we couldn't join until December. It sucks. I cannot imagine how a true single mom handles it. I have been completely exhausted and totally alone for way too long.

At this point, even his 'gestures' of cooking dinner or cleaning are lost on me. I want time alone and then (hopefully) I will want time with him again.

We were best friends for so long and now, I have no one.

And I have no one to admit it to but your comment box. Thank you for posting this.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Expat Mom said...

My first was harder than the second, but that might be because the second came right on the heels of the first and we were still dealing with surgeries and crap. All I can say is that kids ruin marriages. I love my kids, I love my husband, but we are about as far apart as a couple can be without separating. I`d like to say it were different, but we don`t have child care options and that means I am in the house 24/7, unless I want to take a chicken bus with two toddlers. We never get time alone, either and it`s very, very depressing.

5:15 PM  
Blogger palinode said...

What always surprises me about your weblog is your ability to write lucidly and at length, despite the various pressures you face. I don't know how you do it, but hats off.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of your letters make me very sad. I feel for all of you. My husband and I have been married for 44 years and the early years with children was quite difficult. We tried all kinds of things to make it better--going to a pyschologist for specific family problems, enrolling in parenting classes and family to babysit. Eventually it really does get better and I guess the most important advise is to hang in there! Our grown children are an absolute joy and our best friends and the grandchildren are the icing on the cake. As for my husband and myself (we had contemplated divorce) we have never been better or more in love and consider ourselves so very lucky. IT DOES GET BETTER!!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

We do pretty darn well (please do not let this jinx me), I think in part because the boys are 4.5 yrs apart, so we've had one baby at a time. Also, we understand that we need Mom and Dad only trips. From long weekends to whole vacations, we do this multiple times a year. My parents (bless them!) keep the kids. I think any way a couple can arrange for a long weekend, even saving up and using a nanny service for those times, is well worth it to relax and reconnect. One time last year we didn't even leave the city! We were 15 minutes from home, but it may as well have been 15 hundred miles.

5:46 PM  
Blogger mom2nji said...

Awesome post.
Baby #2 was trying for us, he was a coliky preemie who left us sobbing for sleep every night.
I am blessed with a DH that should be sainted, and I too am worried that someday he will be afriafd he will get tired of carrying me on those days where I am beyond stressed. I have to say baby #3 was and is AWESOME! (of course 1 and 2 are wonderful now too)
I think part of what makes becoming parents that damages a marriage, is expectations.
As a couple you have to temporarily let go of how your marriage was before kids, it will go back again...someday (or so I am told). We have hit bumps in the road and will again, but the point is to ride them out together.
Oh and an early bedtime for the kids and TONS of sex help too.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Kari Wolfe said...

Wow, I sometimes read things on here and realize that I feel like I could have written that. My hubby and I only have one child, but know what? One child is enough sometimes too :)

Thank you for putting into words the way I feel sometimes and for doing it so eloquently.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Mrs. CPA said...

At my house, we don't have the perfect relationship by any means, but our family was made for children to be in it. Now, this may be because we have been incredibly lucky in that our children (almost 3 and 5 mths old) are incredibly good natured.

There were a couple of days when Tim went back to work and I stayed home with the 2nd newborn that we both had resentful feelings - he thought I was sitting around all day napping and watching TV and I thought at least his coworkers weren't asking him to make them lunch and could talk in intelligible (some of them anyway) sentences. That lasted two days. And then I was over it and so was he.

Our children have managed to fit pretty seamlessly into our lives. I don't feel deprived, and I don't think Tim does either. The source of my frustrations with him almost never involves children. It's because he's forgotten something or he's left all the lights on in the house again.

I also don't think that our kids are our lives. We have outside interests and outside friends and we still do lots of stuff, but we also spend lots of time at home. I know that sounds impossible, but we do.

What is so crazy about this is that we never wanted to have kids. We were going to do fun stuff as a couple and take care of our nephews and live the childless life. We never even discused how we would raise a child. After our son was born three years ago, we knew this is what our family was made for - kids. We're planning on having at least four.

I've babysat and taken care of probably 1,000 children starting with my brother and sister, which has given me the benefit of being comfortable around children. I knew what to expect when I came home from the hospital. I knew what to do with a baby. That kept things running smoothly and with less stress for everyone.

Tim is also not afraid to keep the kids at home with just him. He is just as competent with both children as I am and is happy to take care of both of them while I go and help my aunt do taxes one night a weekend. He's not scared of being left alone and the kids are just as happy to have one of us or both of us there.

Families are different, they just are. There are families that aren't at their strongest when there are non self sufficient kids. Maybe you'll be the best school age kid family ever. Maybe you'll be great at high schoolers or college age kids. Or maybe you won't feel like yourself until your kids are on their own. That doesn't mean you love them any less. It doesn't mean you love your spouse any less and it doesn't mean you are a bad person.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

OK, wow. My first thought, when I read this, was GOOD FOR YOU! For caring that you maintain your connection as a couple. For taking the time to remember to try and be thoughtful, and for identifying what you need, even though you may not get it as needed (oh, elusive sleep and time alone). Good for you!! Good for you for the care and attention to both of your spirits, and recognising what each of you need, and experience. With this level of caring and concern, you are on a good path. And if you want HBF to plan some time for YOU, and then for both of you, send him an email, with some suggested dates that he can plan for. If he's anything like most men I know, he's not going to want to intrude on any plan that may possibly be in place that he doesn't know if he's forgotten or whatever. Train them with babysteps...

Baby #1 was a tough transition for us, because of the intense nature of the child, and other issues such as finances and ill-health. The other two we took in stride, flat-out running, in fact. We took/take turns carrying each other, although he does do more carrying than I. But all those things we like to hear, the whispered appreciations for a job well done, for being a good Mom, etc, men need to hear too. And the more I give, it seems, the more I get in return...

And children don't always wreck marriages - our three children are a source of pride, and entertainment, and amusement, and love, and wonder, and experience, and... frustration, and anger, and love, and silliness, and... They are the BEST, most POSITIVE affirmation that we have made three very wonderful beings from our togetherness. And the fact that they are so bright, and loving, and caring, and wonderful, is another daily affirmation of the rightness of our marriage, and our strength as a couple as we parent these children of ours. (Even at 4:30 in the morning.)

7:09 PM  
Blogger April said...

When you say it, you really say it. I never could've put how I'm feeling to paper (or... computer) if you asked me to, but you just did.

I think, for for my family, it's amplified because I do not have easy children. The first one came out fussing and whining and hasn't stopped two years later. He didn't crawl until 12 months and didn't walk until 18 months. At 26 months he's only just starting to talk. But, he can unlock and get out of any door in the house, and he knows how to work a computer. Namely, daddy's computer that makes us money and feeds us and clothes us and OHMYGODGETAWAYFROMTHEFUCKINGCOMPUTER!!!

The second child came (on purpose) only 15+ months after the first. He's a much sunnier disposition, but like your second, he DOES NOT REST. At 11 months, he's sleeping through the night about 70% of the time. And he takes about one 45 minute nap a day. So between the two of them... one is day and the other is night. Plus #2 started crawling at 7mo and has now discovered climbing. We've already had two split lips and a bloody nose this week. And it's only Tuesday.

Add to that the fact that I quit a very lucrative law career to stay home with the kids while hubby transitioned into working from home, for himself. He also enrolled in college for a second degree (in engineering!) when i was 6 mo pregnant with our first. (He actually studied through both of my labors). So, along with time, money is also (very) tight.


That being said - my husband is awesome and we make a serious point to laugh at whatever we can and to talk talk talk it through as much as possible. We are acutely aware of how kids can make you turn on each other (as it has certainly happened here!) and make a concerted effort to support one another.

So, we're hanging in there.

And taking enjoyment from wherever we can.

And we're trying for #3.

:-)

7:44 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I found #1 the hardest on my relationship. At least with #2 we know that these early days will pass. Although I do occasionally harbour fantasies of running away and leaving all this behind me, at least for a couple of nights. ;-)

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Nadine AKA Scarbiedoll said...

I wrote THIS on the plane home from BlogHer. Lucy was 10 months then.

I so get it. It's hard. It's hard not to resent, it's hard to not see each other through the children. It's hard when your work hours are all over the place. It's hard when you're trying to still chunk something out of the world for yourself beyond motherhood and trying to be a good mom too.

But I have to say: now that we're mostly sleeping, it's easier. Like night and day. Like we like each other again. Like everything does not have me reaching for a solution in a bottle.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous brigid said...

I recently had a lot of guilt when my kids would finally be asleep and I could finally have alone time with my husband, and it was the absolute last thing I wanted. I just wanted to be alone. I worried about our future. But as time creeps by, while flying by simultaneously, I realize this is a small portion of what will hopefully be a long union. In a few years when all of us are sleeping through the night, maybe I will feel like missing out on a little sleep for some husband/wife time.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

#2 was hard on us also, even though there was 8 years and 10 months between the two. It is still hard, it is as if we have two families in one. #2 also coincided with my hub going into the narc unit so I had #2, a 9 year old and a husband gone all the time. I was very very aggrivated and angry.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

nadine - yeah, I hope so much that sleep will make survival - and thrival (sp?)- much easier ;)

11:00 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

oh, and April? that anyone goes for 3 after the challenges of 2 gives me hope. MAD HOPE.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really, really admire you for putting all this out there. You are willing to be perfectly honest with perfect strangers who then give you perfectly well-meaning advice, which may be perfectly off for you!

Looking back (and even forward, when I think about it), I have realized that I have had to take more responsibility for 'carrying' myself. In other words, I have made arrangements (after discussing with my husband, of course) to get at least some of what I need (time to myself, sleep, recreation, etc.) through arrangements that don't totally ride on my husband. It just wasn't fair to him, or to me, for me to feel that kind of resentment when he was already doing EVERYTHING he could. For us, that has meant having some childcare so that I have some time to myself, time to rest, etc. That way, I don't have to rely entirely on my husband for that time. It makes us both happier. And I have been in your position before re: sleep, so I know your pain. I say all this with the knowledge that you haven't yet posted your feelings on having others care for your kids, and also with the knowledge that I have no idea if that is even possible for you (financially, etc.). I can only tell you that it saved me and probably my marriage.

Hang in there. We all want the best for you and if the advice is off, I apologize (at least for myself)!

1:00 AM  
Blogger Carrien said...

Oh, I have felt this. Especially the resenting the possibility of resentment thing.

SO silly now that I look back on it, but so alarming while caught in the middle.

I like to think of it as a marathon. You will get stronger, because you have to. One of the things that those people who say children are blessings often fail to mention is that one of the ways they bless us is by forcing us to find/learn/become stronger/better/more able.

You'll never get the endurance to run a marathon if all you do is walk every day.

I'm convinced that the end result of parenting boot camp, if we choose to rise to the challenge, is greater character, resilience, and humility.

And those are good things, even if not all that popular.

I've got 3 kids now. And my marriage is better than it ever has been, and we went through those times that you describe. 2 was tough.

And now I laugh because two seems like a vacation I've become so accustomed to three.

Do your best to remember to smile at your partner when you are feeling the worst. IT lets him know that you aren't angry at him, and it's nice to get a smile back too, it makes even all night long puke fests easier to deal with.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Solo said...

That was a really good post...
I just love the whole story..
Keep on writing,i do love visiting your blog..
Hope to see you on mine too.=)

4:18 AM  
Anonymous red pen mama said...

I feel a lot like you: I want time all by myself first.

My husband just wants the latter part: time alone as a couple, someplace warm, without the kids.

But we are still partnering, sometimes with resentment and anger, but mostly not. Mostly with the idea that we are on the same team, Team Parent.

I could have written this post, but I could not have written it so well. And I'm not even dealing with an infant or sleep deprivation!

ciao,
rpm

8:28 AM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

We have only one child but I feel this way too. I always feel like I'm refereeing between them lately. I love them both but I also feel like I want just a few minutes to myself. I need to regroup.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

I have no babies and this just reinforces why I have no babies. My husband and I would not have survived babies. I would have had to do it ALL alone and I would have snapped long ago. Together we are good but more than two of us and things would have fallen apart.

I am watching my sister go through this now - her 2nd is 18 months and her 1st is 5 and she is struggling to hold onto it all. Her husband is there, helpful, involved and she struggles. I would have drown quite literally.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I was just thinking the other night that I feel like we are together simply for the sake of the kids (I feel such a distance between us as a couple) but that if we didn't have kids she'd still be the person I'd want to be with forever. It's so tough. So very, very tough. We have a babysitter and one set of grandparents who take the kids occasionally and we go to the mall for playtime and have a Y membership and the baby is in daycare while I'm at work. But I'm still tired most of the time. I work fulltime, I go to school evenings and the baby is on me like velcro if I'm in his vicinity. So when the baby is gone, I don't want anyone else touching me...it's problematic to say the least.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Andrea - "the baby is on me like velcro if I'm in his vicinity. So when the baby is gone, I don't want anyone else touching me...it's problematic to say the least"

Yes. YES.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Mommy Melee said...

Having kids has given my husband and I something to talk about. Always. And that's kind of cool, this permanent experience we have in common.

So in that way, our relationship of 10+ years has gotten stronger.

On the other hand, I've had sex about 10 times in the past two years. Two years. And 10 might be an over estimate.

For that I feel guilty. So often. I feel broken and it makes my stomach hurt. I'm just not that interested, I was pregnant, I was nursing, I'm so tired all the time, I am used to tiny kids clinging all over me and tiny peeners in diapers.

And I remember the days where we had mind blowing sex ALL THE TIME. In some ways, that makes it worse.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

My husband and I are expecting our first baby in June and I can't tell you how blessed I feel by posts/sites like yours. I think it's going to be incredibly reassuring to know that parenthood isn't supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows and that it does take hard work. Bloggers like you who are brave enough to talk about the tough stuff is what's going to save first time parent's like me from a lot of self-doubt and self-loathing. Thanks!

9:47 AM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

It actually got easier for us as more kids came. He owned up, got a clue, and had to help out.

It's still really REALLLLLLY hard - when you're hopped up on hormones (pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 5 years STRAIGHT) - and I'm not sure he'll ever fully "get it."

I will say that I was still totally attracted to him sexually, even after all the crap. His libido left the building when I got pregnant with the first.

But with this kid, I'm trying to find my libido. I think it finally caught up with me. And what I've found lately is that I don't really long for sex, but more for intimacy. A shoulder to cry on. Someone to commisserate. Hold my hand. Tell me everything is going to be okay.

The boob grab and ass smacks just don't cut it anymore.

Unfortunately, my husband has never been like that (for the most part). And it's hard for me to ASK someone for that.

9:48 AM  
OpenID wherewiller said...

I don't even get, at this point, how the human race has continued. I mean, people have been having babies for ages. Didn't they feel as pissed off as I do?? Didn't our foremothers think - what the hell am I doing, when can I have some time to myself and (in common with your earlier commenter)why the hell do I have to make sure the planets align before mommy has some time to sit on the toilet?!

Why do we keep doing this? Why haven't we made it easier or better?

I guess I feel less resentful since I've gone back to work and I'm not with them ALL DAY LONG. But we don't even get any time to ourselves as a couple (we've litterally been on our own without them a handful of times since number 2 arrived 15 months ago. I don't know when we'll be able to go away by ourselves. My parents are not retired; his parents live in another country.

Argh. Thank you for writing this. How did our foremothers cope without blogs and thoughtful online discussions?

9:53 AM  
Blogger Eva said...

I work from home, and I work out of the home a little bit. I do my work-from-home stuff when she is asleep, and my out-of-the-home stuff when she is with a babysitter (super cheap in-home care lady). To me, of course you are overwhelmed without any time to feel or think for yourself if are trying to work full-time without childcare. With two kids! I won't even attempt to work when my kid is awake (except for a weekly conf call that always is really stressful). I do only have one kid, but the time to myself, and to focus on my work, and even just driving to work from the daycare lady, really makes a huge difference for me. That you never get that time seems like torture. It was hard for me to start leaving my kid (six hours a week) with the daycare lady, but I think she has the most fun there, and while I didn't plan it to benefit me as a person, it really does. I suggest at least trying something like that. I bet it would make all the difference and take the pressure off your marriage, off your husband to do the other half, if you tried an arrangement like that. Make it in threes--you, the husband, the babysitter--and it's much more relaxed. I only pay 5 dollars an hour for my awesome childcare, too. Oh, and by never working when she is awake, we have huge blocks of free time to do fun stuff for me and her. If you are trying to work and manage kids all the time, that's going to make having fun stressful, too, because you really "ought" to be working. At least I imagine. (I used to try that myself--didn't work).

10:02 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Good analogies. Sadly, having children is thought to be a huge cementing factor for a marriage. But for many couples, it is that which rips them apart.

The kids ARE important. Yes. But your husband is MORE important. Your relationship with him is the one that has to be the strongest before your relationship with your children can be allowed to flourish. I have made several mistakes in my marriage regarding this. It is a constant struggle to remind ourselves that WE are the ones who will still be here when they grow up and leave. That HE is the one I CHOSE. The kids were flukes of nature. Random personalities thrown at me to contend with and relate to. But my husband? He is the one that I CHOSE out of all other men.

I owe it to him and myself to make our relationship more important.

Please don't read too much into this comment. I am just writing it out for myself to read. I really needed to write it down today. On that note, I am off to call him. Or maybe write a romantic email or note...

10:11 AM  
OpenID madgetastic said...

I'm getting a lot more out of your most recent posts than I am from Couples Therapy.

Keep these coming on a weekly basis and my husband can skip therapy and go out to dinner with your blog as a discussion tool.

Thanks, Catherine, for being able to distill such potent thought even through the haze of baby #2. I've been there and that is next to impossible. XO

10:13 AM  
Blogger Jen L. said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this today! I needed to hear that someone else was experiencing it. I know others always ARE, but it's nice to see it when you need to. I'm only on baby #1, but it's still hard. And it does take its toll on your marriage. I had some pretty wicked PPD a few months ago,which has thankfully hit the road and left me stronger and happier. The one thing that's still lacking, though, is time with my husband. At the end of the day when our son is in bed, we both just want to veg out and do our own thing when we used to have "us" time.
This post was the kick in the pants I needed. My husband and I work in the same field and we have a long-weekend conference to attend next month. It's only 20 minutes from our house, but it would be really nice to have a sitter for our son overnight so we can use our evenings (after loooong days of presenting workshops and such) to network and friggin' RELAX! (and attend cocktail hour, of course) This post made me realize that my kid will be just fine if he spends a couple of nights with my aunt and will benefit from his refreshed parents, especially if they get some. ;)

10:14 AM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

I feel like I should be sending you chocolates or flowers every time you post something like this because these posts have helped me immeasurably. The one you wrote a few weeks ago about resentment? I paraphrased it to my husband and he got it. I'm sure it will take numerous repetitions, but he did get it and for that, I am eternally grateful to you. You put this whole motherhood gig into words that I'm unable to form and I can't thank you enough.

I'm sure I'll be paraphrasing this one to him, too, because our second daughter has made this marriage thing much more difficult than I ever expected. I wouldn't trade her for the world, but man, it's changed everything.

Thank you, Catherine.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Must Be Motherhood said...

Hollah to the I DON'T REALLY WANT TO BE TOUCHED after wearing a baby and being smacked by a toddler all day sentiment. Oy.
I feel us slipping apart too. So much yelling and resentment and fatigue. So little time, just he and I, cuddling and making love on Sunday afternoons.
And I hate that whenever we do have time when the kids are FINALLY fracking asleep, we're too tired to talk, or I just want to be alone and read, or he just wants a scotch and stupid television. We try to escape the children but we just escape eachother.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Karen Sugarpants said...

Trust me when I say, it gets much easier when they are clear of the diaper/nursing stages. Try to relish those tender moments, and if you can? Go on dates. Seriously. That saved my marriage.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous anita ovolina said...

I have five children and I go through many moments or days when it's tough to connect with my husband.
So many things need to get done - girls screaming for attention, husband not focusing on me or them.
Then he deploys and all of a sudden I miss getting angry at him, I miss his presence just him being there.
And that helps me put things in perspective, until of course he gets back and leaves all of his stuff in the living room kitchen, bathroom, all over the house, I start getting mad again.

10:36 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

I probably shouldn't sat this, but it really doesn't get easier as the babies grow. Actually, in my case, we have grown even further apart as PunditGirl has grown and developed into her own stubborn, hard-headed self who also has anxiety issues that drain me daily.

Don't want to leave a novel as a comment, but I wonder every day what happened to the closeness and love we shared. Signing off from pre-teen island.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the birth of our first daughter was harder on our relationship than the second, but only slightly.
The Hub (late Hubby now, died in Oct. 2003 when our daughters were 3 & 5) had a horrible childhood, was kid #7 of 9. He didn't want children, and I thought I didn't until I was in my late 20's. After a Big Talk, when I told him I did want children & if he didn't, we needed to part ways, he supposedly decided he wanted children also. We were married for 8 years before our first daughter was born, and he had grown accustomed to being my first priority. He was not thrilled to hand off his position of Top Dog over to our daughter. I stayed home, he worked, so it wasn't that big of a problem during the week when his only responsibility was to hold her while I took a quick bath, then handed her back to me with a scowl, but he wouldn't even take a shift on weekends and was annoyed when I napped while she napped.
After the birth of daughter the second, he did take over some of the care of daughter the first, but made a point of letting me know he felt very put out. He worked 7 hours a day sitting in front of a computer.
I was livid when he asked (several times) what I did all day when D#1 was 2 & D#2 was 6 weeks old. I was furious when he said he didn't understand why I wasn't willing to give up just one night of sleep (his words) & stay in the bed with him although his snoring kept me awake. I had not slept for more than 2 hours at a time for 3 years (unless my mom was visiting) and began to resent the fact that he even breathed.
I advise all women to think long and hard before having a child with a man who may not be willing to help care for his children. The paycheck came in handy, of course, but when he died, I felt relief because then I only had to care for 3 people.
Ame in TN

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Becoming Sarah said...

What an honest and personal post. Although, I have to admit, it scares me a little bit. Thank you for writing this.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Becoming Sarah said...

What an honest and personal post. Although, I have to admit, it scares me a little bit. Thank you for writing this.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

#2 was way harder than #1. no question. and #3? let's not even go there. but, my baby is now 3 1/2. and my life is better than it's ever been. my husband and i have a better relationship than we've ever had.

getting through the baby years is tough...but once it's over...it's good. it's really good.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

My kids were easier on me with each addition. Adding #3 barely caused a ripple on my radar as far as parenting goes. But as for the marriage? Kids have definitely changed us. We disagree on how some things should be done and I generally feel that he should defer to me since I am with the children a lot more than he is (and I've done the reading, conversing, etc). It's hard to be excited to be with someone who screams at the kids for talking during the news. And I'm not saying I don't ever scream at the kids because I certainly do.

It's still hard as the kids get older too. There are just different things that you can disagree on and pull you apart...and sometimes the kid instigates the fight.

But you just have to decide whether it's worth it to stew and harbor anger and resentment or if you want to just get over it and move on so that tomorrow you can all smile and laugh together.

12:51 PM  
OpenID crazylovescompany said...

God that's a great post. As a mom to a 9 week old, the only child in the house, yes, he's been harder on us than when we got our puppy 2 years ago. I heard a lot of myself echoed in there. There was a question on some blog a few weeks ago that I thought was great.
What is harder:
marriage?
kids?

I have to say that the first 2 months of our new baby has been way harder than 10 years of marriage.

1:07 PM  
Blogger thediaperdiaries said...

So much to say to this brilliant post and the thoughful comments with no idea how to make mine brilliant or thoughtful.

Here is what I know to be true: marriage is hard work. Daily, exhausting, hard work. And somehow, somewhere, we came under the illusion that it shouldn't be. And that when it is, we should jump ship. And that somehow that is the easier choice.

But it isn't easier on us or the kids. As someone married to a child of the most wonderful divorce I have ever heard of, I see nearly daily the scars of that. I don't mean that to sound condeming or judgemental, I just think we think it is an easier thing than it is sometimes.

I teach marriage prep and just think a lot of "kids" are going into marriage looking for a fairytale and it just isn't. It sucks a lot, and there are days when I want to vote him off the island. And I say that knowing full well that I am married to one of the greatest husbands on the planet.

We live in a society that tells us as moms to pour our lives into our kids and then we wonder what has happened to our marriages. Kids can't and shouldn't come first. I remember watching a woman say that on Oprah once and nearly getting stoned by the audience.

If we don't put our marriages before our parenting, we are no good to them. We are certainly no good to our spouse or to ourselves. I realize this all sounds quite lovely in theory and is next to impossible to carry out, but I believe in it strongly. We simply must be intentional about this even when we don't necessarily "feel it".

If we don't do it, once the kids leave we will look at this "partner" and wonder who the heck he is. Then we will completely miss out on the beauty of looking across at someone we have weathered life with, battled through yuck with and who knows all our crap and loves and chooses us anyway. I long for that kind of love and don't want to miss it.

1:15 PM  
Blogger thediaperdiaries said...

So much to say to this brilliant post and the thoughful comments with no idea how to make mine brilliant or thoughtful.

Here is what I know to be true: marriage is hard work. Daily, exhausting, hard work. And somehow, somewhere, we came under the illusion that it shouldn't be. And that when it is, we should jump ship. And that somehow that is the easier choice.

But it isn't easier on us or the kids. As someone married to a child of the most wonderful divorce I have ever heard of, I see nearly daily the scars of that. I don't mean that to sound condeming or judgemental, I just think we think it is an easier thing than it is sometimes.

I teach marriage prep and just think a lot of "kids" are going into marriage looking for a fairytale and it just isn't. It sucks a lot, and there are days when I want to vote him off the island. And I say that knowing full well that I am married to one of the greatest husbands on the planet.

We live in a society that tells us as moms to pour our lives into our kids and then we wonder what has happened to our marriages. Kids can't and shouldn't come first. I remember watching a woman say that on Oprah once and nearly getting stoned by the audience.

If we don't put our marriages before our parenting, we are no good to them. We are certainly no good to our spouse or to ourselves. I realize this all sounds quite lovely in theory and is next to impossible to carry out, but I believe in it strongly. We simply must be intentional about this even when we don't necessarily "feel it".

If we don't do it, once the kids leave we will look at this "partner" and wonder who the heck he is. Then we will completely miss out on the beauty of looking across at someone we have weathered life with, battled through yuck with and who knows all our crap and loves and chooses us anyway. I long for that kind of love and don't want to miss it.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

Imagine you're building a house. You pour a big slab of concrete down and then put up walls and a roof. You paint the walls, get the perfect appliances, and you love it. It's perfect. You NEVER want it to change.

A few years later, you realize you hate blue all of a sudden, so you repaint the walls. You realize that Reidel crystal in the cabinets is pretty, but hell is it maintainance, so you get those Ball canning jars for glasses instead.

Later, you totally outgrow your Zen phase and move on to Art Nuevo, so you have to redecorate the whole thing.

Later, you decide that the games room is just stupid and you put in an office.

Your house changes constantly. It stops being that old one and somehow transforms into another one entirely. The only thing that stays the same is the foundation and the roof. You never see either of those things. Well, until the roof starts leaking.

Sometimes you have to re-shingle that roof. Re-roofing a house sucks. It's hard, you get sunburned, and it's dangerous. What if you fall? What if you don't do a good job and have to keep re-roofing over and over again?

All the while, you still have a slab of concrete that you've totally forgotten about, but you know it's there. No matter what happens, you can always tear down those walls and build up again. You just have to keep wanting to live on that block.

That's a marriage with kids. Not one thing stays the same when you come home, and thank god for that. You can't love that person you married eons ago; that person is gone. You are gone, too. That person got a new coat of paint and a decorator. You have to keep learning to love the new house, over and over again. That's the challenge. So long as you've got that concrete and the roof that keeps the rain out, the rest works itself out. You just have to keep painting until you find the right shade.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Mr Lady: God, I love you.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Cassi said...

As a huge fan of Amazing Race and a recent mother of two kids two years apart and with special needs, I can say this post is dead on! Thank you so much for your honesty...and flair for metaphors. :)

1:28 PM  
Blogger Little Nut Tree said...

We definitely struggled with the 1st baby way more than the 2nd and yes the 2nd baby was a much easier baby... my first daughter thought sleep and milk were for pussys - good times.

But we never turned on each other. Sure we bickered - absolutely. Yes we niggled at each other when tiredness was peaking. My dad, bless him, gave us this talking to when Rowan (1st) was born and said - there's this time of the night when they're awake and all you wanna be is asleep and you feel like it's never going to end. You find yourselves ripping into each other about the temp of the milk, the tightness of the swaddle, the brightness of the lamp or the noise of the flush... and all you have to do is remember that this is tiredness talking. Recognise it. Hug it out and love each other. You made a choice to have a baby and it does get easier.

Tiredness is the meanie in this relationship - you and hubby and tiredness are all fighting for top billing and unfortunately, 80% of the time tiredness wins and plays you off one another.

Luckily for us - because my dad had the sense to say it to both of us at the same time - every so often we would look at each other and say - you know what? It's 4am. This is tiredness talking. Let's hug it out and get some kip.

Baby number 2 was a sleeper - eater and a sleeper - so to be honest? We just thought we'd hit the jackpot and I don't think we even had a cross word for over a year because we were too scared that someone would hear us and give us our real baby and take away the narcoleptic milk hoover that liked to sleep alone!
In fact we had our first row 2 weeks ago - the first real door slamming groundbreaking, insult hurling, daughters crying, all out war we've had in ages. It was awful but I'm glad we had it because it made me realise how good we have it. And it was nothing to do with the children. Just us stupid adults.

Sleep deprivation is crap and it hits all of us in different ways. God knows my husband has his own little gems of personality disorder when he's lacking in the brain down-time. Me too I'm sure. But to blame it on having children around.... seems just like hunting for a problem to explain the symptoms.

So ... does it get easier? Yes I think it does - because on the whole, if you're lucky, they start to sleep as a necessity rather than as a refueling mechanism for the next onslaught and you start to get your evenings back. You get alone time - you get couple time and you realise there is a marriage in there somewhere instead of just parents. A couple that decided to have babies.

We have a 4yr old and 2yr old and I can honestly say that we are A OK. Happy and working our way through the madness and the attitudes and the tantrums and the stroppiness as well enjoying the love and the craziness.

Best wishes :)

1:38 PM  
Blogger ClumberKim said...

There was a recent nyt op-ed on this topic http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/opinion/05coontz.html?_r=1

You said a hell of a lot better. May you find those soft beds and coconuts.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new mom. I have been a follower of your blog for close to a year. You write well and express interesting and insightful ideas and thoughts on parenting but, my God, you are negative. Especially lately i.e. in the past month. Your recent/repetitive missives on breastfeeding and sleep deprivation alone are enough to scare anyone away from parenthood. A vast majority of new moms and dads dont sleep, yet you keep harping away about the issue. Then you receive a truckload of e-mail from comrades saying their kids dont sleep either. I take it that, for you, that level of sharing helps. Good on you if it does. They say that if you dont like a particular blog or a bloggers style the simple solution is to just stop reading and that's what I will be doing with yours. The negativity is just too much.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new mom. I have been a follower of your blog for close to a year. You write well and express interesting and insightful ideas and thoughts on parenting but, my God, you are negative. Especially lately i.e. in the past month. Your recent/repetitive missives on breastfeeding and sleep deprivation alone are enough to scare anyone away from parenthood. A vast majority of new moms and dads dont sleep, yet you keep harping away about the issue. Then you receive a truckload of e-mail from comrades saying their kids dont sleep either. I take it that, for you, that level of sharing helps. Good on you if it does. They say that if you dont like a particular blog or a bloggers style the simple solution is to just stop reading and that's what I will be doing with yours. The negativity is just too much.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new mom. I have been a follower of your blog for close to a year. You write well and express interesting and insightful ideas and thoughts on parenting but, my God, you are negative. Especially lately i.e. in the past month. Your recent/repetitive missives on breastfeeding and sleep deprivation alone are enough to scare anyone away from parenthood. A vast majority of new moms and dads dont sleep, yet you keep harping away about the issue. Then you receive a truckload of e-mail from comrades saying their kids dont sleep either. I take it that, for you, that level of sharing helps. Good on you if it does. They say that if you dont like a particular blog or a bloggers style the simple solution is to just stop reading and that's what I will be doing with yours. The negativity is just too much.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I have to say that if we could have afforded it we would have been divorced when the children were babies. It's a tough time and staying connected takes a lot of energy when you are already exhausted. For us it got easier for sure. Yes, it's more complicated with older children but at least you get 8 hours of sleep and a little bit of freedom. I always say "the children came to live with us, we did not go to live with them". Meaning we were here first and need prioritize needs. Getting away is key. It helps you reconnect and be you for a while. Every child should know the joy of a parent's return! I hope you find what works for you.

2:06 PM  
Blogger iMommy said...

I feel as though I could have written those. These are certainly the tears I would have cried had I written this, streaming down my face.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous 2:05 - Wow. I know that I'm not always the most cheery blogger - I'm not a humor blogger, and I certainly am not interested in shooting rainbows and sparkles up anyone's ass - but I actually don't think of myself as wholly negative. Quite apart from the relentless onslaught of chirpy baby pictures and toddler videos - which are as close to rainbows and sparkles as I can get - I like to think that by writing out the truth of motherhood - MY motherhood - I keep things realistic. I'm glad that there were people telling me that sleeplessness would be hard, or that there would be pressures on my marriage, or that I would feel angry sometimes - because otherwise I would feel very alone, and very isolated in my experience, having only the sunny covers of parenting mags and celeb gossip sites to go by. This shit is hard, it really is. I would hope that it's clear from posts like these that I wouldn't trade it for anything - but the truth of that doesn't change the fact that it's hard.

I don't know what you gain from chastising me for my negativity, but good on you, you win: I'm now fretting over my negativity. Which is a pretty effective silencer.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

God. I just effin' LOVE people like anonymous 2:05. They're the kind of people that make mothers feel like they're supposed to be perfect and just buck up & shut up. That's what makes parenting now so isolating, when you bury everything and pretend it's all easy.

HBM, you're the kind of person who makes everyone else say, "hey, shit, I'm not alone. It's not just me."

Because the parenting books may help you figure out some things, but it's blogs like THIS that make a community and help people feel like it's normal and okay to go through the tough times. To hell with people who are so brave with their words that they have to play the anonymous card.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous crunchy said...

I don't think she was chastising you..it is just her pov...as your blog is yours..

With parenting at all ages and stages..you have to remember..each stage will pass...the lack of sleep will pass..or not (heh)..but what does happen is you and the family change and adjust and move on to the next thing.

You just have to roll with it.

2:45 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

A few thoughts:

Is it negativity or is it honesty? Does truth always have to be sunshiny and bright?

Why do people insist on critiquing what a blogger writes about, when it's their own space to write about what they choose?

And when there's 70+ comments of people going I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN, I don't understand how it makes sense to say the writer is being gratuitiously negative - she's obviously touched a nerve with many people.

And I don't understand when people hide behind anonymous to bash. If you feel the need to hide in order to post these words, should you be posting them at all?

2:46 PM  
Blogger Little Nut Tree said...

My mum used to say (when I was little) that if you didn't have anything good to say then you shouldn't say anything at all.

I think this deserves a moment's thought here...

I think if it's your blog then you should say what you damn well please. Luckily for you, you have 70 other people who are here to tell you that this is all OK and you'll get there - you're not alone. And I think you deserve that. Everyone deserves friends.

I think if you're reading someone's blog and it's not for you or something isn't falling in line with how *you* think or with what *you* want to hear/read - and your first reaction is to shout her down or criticise her for not being humorous enough then think before you speak. Negativity goes two ways you know, Anonymous. If that is, in fact, your real name... You don't sound all that chirpy sweetie!

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Karen Sugarpants said...

Hey 2:05 - don't let the bloggy door hit you in your high-and-mighty butt on the way out. Seeing as you're a parent of ONE, I highly doubt you can relate to this post. May you be graced with all the positivity and sunshine that can safely fit up your cowardly anonymous ass.
C - keep on keeping it REAL. For those of us who a) care; b) relate; and c) love you.
xo

2:54 PM  
Anonymous rachel - a southern fairytale said...

I think this was brilliantly written, as your stuff usually is, I may not be able to relate to 100% of it, but I relate to a lot and i appreciate that you put it into better words than I.

Your unabashed honesty and real writing, is what I respect and adore about you.

There are lots of things that I wish people had been real about, and told me about before getting into this parenting gig (heh).

Parenting is scary as hell, people should be afraid, excited, exhilarated and yes, even rainbows shooting out of their various orifices, but still afraid. It's a monumental thing, it is taking charge of another person and only having a limited amount of time to truly leave your mark before they become their own person, and you.. you're just there to hopefully catch them when they fall, love them unconditionally and cheer them on, even when it embarrasses them.

And now that I've made no sense at all, I shall say Thank you, for being you.

and leave you all wondering what I'm drinking at 2PM (diet coke) that makes me sound so bizarre and disjointed.

2:55 PM  
Blogger dawn224 said...

Fuck a bunch of Anonymous 2:05. I always love people who find it necessary to say "I won't be reading you anymore" and closing the door with a huff. Seems a guarantee that person will be back to 1. read the comments and 2. see if you are still negative/tired/whatever tomorrow... and the next day ... and the next day ....

The hostel/travel metaphor is awesome - and after time passes, we all look at the photos and tell the survival stories and smile.

And shoot a shot of vodka.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

just, ditto. marriage is hard, harder to be married parents and balance the couple vs. the family.

i won't say that it gets easier for all, but for us it got easier when #2 became more independent. so much so that we're considering #3.

i keep reminding myself that these times are short. one day the kids will leave my home and i can keep it as clean as i want, i will have more free time, i will have all teh sex with my husband and those years will be more numerous than the years that my kids actually lived with us. and when i think of that i'm still a bit sad because then they'll be gone. it's like it's a no-win, argh.

anyway, love you.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous pkzcass said...

I wonder, since it cannot ever be known, if couples who don't have children ever grow tired of each other? Granted, there isn't the constant comparing of notes on who does what and how much of it they do, but your post made me think about this. You know, the grass is always greener...

Anyway, I do feel that being sleep-deprived and always having a baby on your boob would be enough to send anyone over the edge. Especially since it's been going on so long for you. I only nursed for 5 months each time (two kids) and I was very glad to at least get myself back. Things will be much brighter when/if you get some sleep.

My mother-in-law has taken my boys one weekend a month since they were born and it has saved my marriage. My boys are older now (9 and 12) and even though they don't go to bed earlier than we do anymore, we plop them in front of the TV sometimes and escape to the bedroom.

I joke with my husband about how I'd never divorce him because he's not getting off that easy. I think it helps in some crazy way to know that divorce is not an option for either of us. Will Smith said once, "Once you make divorce an option, you end up getting divorced" or something like that. I think it makes sense.

I say keep trying to get some sleep, hire a babysitter for a few hours each week so you can go to get coffee or shop by yourself, and for God's sake, get that baby off your boob! From the looks of him (and he's stinkin' adorable, that's for sure), he's not going to starve if he refuses to drink milk or formula or something out of a cup.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

You've put this so well (while using Pop Culture references - bestill my heart!) that I wanted to stumble this and lo and behold my damned IT dept has uninstalled my tool bar - gasp! (32 people have probably stumbled it already...)

Anyway...I think my kids are just *slightly* older than yours (my "baby" will be 2 this weekend) and I remember feeling exactly this same way just a few months ago. And I'll just reiterate what I'm sure all 89 other people have said already: It gets better. My experience has been that just when you think you can take no more, that's when the baby turns the corner and can go a full four hours without needing to be fed.

The fact that you worry and feel guilty at all speaks volumes on its own - you know the value of your relationship and will still go those extra 14 miles for it!

3:15 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I wonder how it is that there are people who do not miss themselves, at all, or who and how they used to be with their partner, at all, after becoming parents. Maybe, I think, maybe they have different lives, different expectations, had kids much younger than I did, or something.

Even if I do travel away somewhere, alone or with my husband, it is never as get-away-ish as it was before kids. They are still in our hearts, as sure as the coconut drinks are in our hands.

But we are different, he and I, and he is less hmm anxious I suppose, and he reacts and acts differently and so sometimes, we aren't per se on the same team and you don't have the same time and space to achieve all that compromise that you once did.

So all that to say...oh yes, and what this is? is real. It is what it is, and that carries no positive or negative to it.

One can subscribe to the "always look on the bright side of life" philosophy, but I always thought of that as a sort of irony---you know, a sort of "Monty Python was kidding, folks" kind of thing.

Everything in moderation.

One can drown in sunshine and unicorns, too, you know.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

And now I want to stumble Mr Lady's genius comment!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous wyliekat said...

My ex left when our child was not quite two, after nearly eight years of being together.

Yeah. Babies are hard on marriage. This is especially true if you have, in fact, married a baby. You never know until you make a child with them.

3:39 PM  
Blogger monkey girl said...

I don't know that I'd take anything that you've written as negative - it's the truth based in your reality.

The joys of writing a blog involve having words posted on the InterWeb. The readers are the ones who ultimately apply the emotion to your words.

Life is hard. I can't imagine being a mom on top of everything that I'm dealing with. It's okay to bitch about it. Everyone is aloud to bitch. And seeing that it's your blog - I think you out of everyone should express your opinions because we want to hear what you have to say otherwise we wouldn't keep coming back for more. :)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Lotta said...

"And then I worry us about turning on each other. I worry about even considering the possibility that we might turn on each other, because once upon a time - in the carefree days before we embarked upon this strange and wonderful and impossibly challenging journey - I would not have imagined for a second that we could turn on each other,"

I think this is one of the best comments on marriage after children that I've ever read.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

I enjoy a little negativity. Oh, except I call it reality. Because for me, what you write about is real *right now* and if even one other person is enduring it (let alone 70) then I can take a breath and realize I am probably going to be OK.

...and thank you to the people who say it gets better.

...and also I recommend massage therapy. The good touching, without sex pressure, AND time alone but not a whole baby's meal time away. Winsies!

5:34 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

I feel the EXACT same way. I can't even tell you. EXACT.

I have figured out, though -- since a Valentine's date with my husband this weekend -- that, no matter how tired and spent you are, get out with your husband. Because it's rejuvenating. It's escape. Even just going to a movie. In your lulus (I didn't dress up). Does wonders.

I have to make a point to do that more....

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am happy to read this post and the replies that follow it, because it reminds me of why i read mommyblogs in the first place. I'm not married, don't have kids. I came from a highly dysfunctional family (and extended family), so I have very little example to go by. I want desperately to have kids one day, but I want to raise them very differently than I was raised, and I like to read about others' experiences.

Chief among the things I've gotten from this post and the responses is that one must 1) put the marriage first, for the sake of everyone involved, 2)continue to actively take care of yourself, so as not to resent others for doing the same 3) go with the flow, assume the best of your partner, and allow for give and take.

Catherine: I enjoy reading you blog a lot. You are a very analytical, heavy thoughts kind of person. Though it is very much my cup of tea, it's not everyone's, and that's okay. Hopefully that person will find another blog that better resonates with her (with no hard feelings from this reader), and the rest of us will stay right here.

Also, I was wondering: Many people continue to recommend you find some time for yourself, and suggested many means of doing it (ie babysitters, etc.). Is this something you have considered or tried? Is there a difficulty in your life that does not allow you to do this, as at least one commenter above has in her life? I may have missed it somewhere (I do not scrutinize carefully), but mostly I see that you do not respond (at least publicly) to these recommendations. I wonder, if you have not been able to do this, if talking about it here may help you get from A to B.

Are you worried the little ones will not be okay without you? Are you having trouble asking for help? Finding help even though you've asked? As I've stated I know next to nothing about this parenting thing, but I do know that sometimes getting to the root of the rate-limiting-step (sorry, the scientist in me) can lead to improvement.

Sorry for the extra long post. I blame it on the caffeine.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

ANonymous 6:07 - no apologies for extra long comments (have you seen the length of my posts? ;))

I do what I can to get time for myself, but I'm limited in that Jasper will take nothing but boob - so I can't leave him for much longer than four or five hours here or there. We have a mother's helper to come in once a week so that I can catch up on work (or sleep ;)), and we've talked about hiring a sleep doula, but money is tight right now. So my 'me' time is dictated largely by when my husband is home to take over with the kids - which he does readily, but if he's working long hours, he can't.

So, yeah - I do what I can. Every little bit helps. But I'm limited, and that's a tad frustrating.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HBM, THANK YOU once again for putting into words these simple truths such as "parenting is hard and it's okay to say so". God, why has it been so hard to say so. Why is one made to feel like such a loser because they think parenting is hard!!! It doesn't make you a bad or weak person because you are having a difficult time managing it all. Did I mention running the household as well? And, by parenting I don't mean just all the shopping, cooking, feeding, cleaning up, laundry, bathing, taking to the dentist, remembering the vaccinations, figuring out the disintegrating moods from true illness (is the little person sick, and if so is it just the cold or flu, or do we need to go to the hospital). Parenting is hard and the consequence of that is that it has an affect on the spousal relationship. I think you are fabulous. Thank you for being willing to put into words the realities of the world. I knew having 3 babies in 3 years, two and a half months, was hard. The husband works 80 hours a week. The grandparents, both sets, and all the aunties and uncles lived on another continent. It is hard. The mother was not a bad person because she doesn't always handle it well, because she doesn't always feel like handling. You continue to do it because they are here, and they are yours, and you love them. But dammit, how do you keep track of your spousal relationship along with all this other hard work when you are exhausted all the time? I am sorry for saying this but...I think if the husband stayed home for one week with the three of them (ages 3 year, two and half months, age 23 months and newborn) and the wife disappeared for 80 hours a week, he would get it. He might work 80 hours a week but she work 168..always on! It is all consuming. I love those little people. I want to do right by them. I love my husband. But, if he even looks like he is irritated with me because three kids are screaming at once and the pasta is boiling over and my hair is sticking out all over the place, it is pretty darn hard for me to rise above it and be the better person and win for the couple and all that jazz. If he looks irritated with me I will resent him in that moment and that is when it starts to spiral down hill. I need to pause in that moment and not assume he is irritated with me. I need to offer him a kind tone so that he can in turn offer me a kind tone so that it spirals up hill. I know what I need to do...it is just do darn hard when I am so darn exhausted with no me time. And, I have the type of personality that needs me time more than his type of personality does so I think he doesn't get it.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

Wow. Your post brings back so many memories and visceral feelings that have (thankfully) ebbed away from my life. You are right to wonder and worry about all of this - it's complicated and deep and worthy of discussion, no matter what you might hear from people who don't want to think about stuff.

I went through this same "Daily-grind-with-small-children" phase 5 years ago, and I wish there had been more women writing blogs that I could have related to. It was so dammed hard, and your description of the process of having multiple kids is spot on.

I spent any lucid time I had thinking things like, "Aaaargh! EVERYBODY STOP TOUCHING ME! How come nobody warned me how sensual this would be?!? I'm so damn physically overstimulated that I don't want to have sex until the kids are in college!"

It's small comfort, but if you can gut your way through the early years, it really does get easier. Is there any way you could up your mother's helper hours? Maybe barter with some grad students who need critiquing or editing? Find a 14 year old who would work cheap during the witching hours each evening? I say this because I was very lucky to be financially able to afford part-time daycare, and I am so grateful, because it saved my sanity... and bolstered my marriage as well.

(Speaking of which, in the TMI department, I also highly recommend occasionally yanking your husband into the bathroom, locking the door, and giving him a quick blow job. Doing this changes your perspective from "resentful" to "bountiful" and his from "resentful" to "I am married to a superhuman goddess.")

And last, but not least? Could I please get some info on the kick-ass course in "Analogy Writing 101" that you and Mr. Lady have obviously taken? ;)

9:07 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

HBM-thanks for answering! It sounds like the hold-up on more help is financial in origin, which is in equal measures understandable and completely frustrating. I must say that I would be sticking my neck out wayyy too far if I tried to give you any advice (therefore I won't), but you do have my sympathy.

Though I am not a mother/wife, I am a med student and a girlfriend (to another med student). Often we spend upwards of 80 hrs/week working in the hospital and then are expected to study at home, all the while being judged on every move we make. This life is exhausting and anxiety provoking (and sex-life killing). Many of my classmates (myself included) yo-yo in weight due to the stress and look worse for the wear after 4 years of this. Many of us are clinically depressed.
I write all of this to say that I neglect my relationship too because school takes up my time, physical energy and emotional energy. Just today, before I read this post, I was thinking that I would like to go on vacation to reconnect with my boyfriend, but that I would like to go by myself for a few days so that I could get to my happy place before he and I got back to ours.

So, I can relate to a feeling of loss of control of your own time and needing to reclaim it before sharing it with someone else. I don't have the money to go on vacation either, but I'm thinking that somehow I should try to go anyway.

Thanks for the great post.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm anonymous at 6:07, btw. I have no idea why it put my name this time, I don't have a blog . . . hope I wasn't sleep-blogging!

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annonymous 2:05, you should have followed your own advice "They say that if you dont like a particular blog or a bloggers style the simple solution is to just stop reading". But, not, you chose instead to drop your bomb. Shame on you, really. This shit is hard enough without having to deal with that oh so common judgement that talking about how difficult something is is unwelcome or wrong. Next time just stop reading, we won't miss you.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Jan said...

I think as many different types of personalities and people there are in this world, that's how many different perspectives on being a mother there are. I hear so many say "This is so hard" and that is not my experience at all. But so what? We don't have to convince each other that we are right and they are wrong or too negative. It is what it is! Everyone is allowed their own opinion, their own experience. Being a mother is the EASIEST thing I have ever done- and my life has NOT been easy. If someone else's experience is different, I respect that....and ask if there is anything I can do to help. I directed a child care center for 17 years and that was my favorite part- helping other parents who may have been struggling at times. Peace and hope for all of us!

1:35 AM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I kinda wanted to comment on the post right after this- I get you. I understand. And lately I am in a dark period (I've not gotten much sleep this week and have thought about you and am hoping you're finally getting some) and so it is actually refreshing to see someone else write those things that we are all feeling. Sometimes we need the dark to see that there is a light!

That's all.

Steph

8:39 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

My favorite quote ever about parenthood came from a movie, and was something like: As hard as you think it is going to be, you end up wishing it were that easing.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

or rather... that easy. :)

11:27 AM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

It really is the age, not the number. My sister's fourth and fifth kids (twin boys) are now almost five, and her marriage is going through a renaissance. She feels freed from the constraints of babyhood, and she and husband are cooing over each other, in love like college kids. My fourth baby is only 5 months old, and we have a long way to go till babyhood is over. But it matters a lot that I can trust him to be committed to me until this gets easier. And he remembers single life well enough to choose even a tired and cranky wife over no wife at all.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Jaci said...

THANK YOU for writing this! I've been feeling alone in my parenting/marriage/me-time struggles, like there is something wrong with me and I can't handle it as well as other moms.

I'm going to print this and share it with my mom's group tomorrow. I know every woman there will be able to relate!

12:26 PM  
Anonymous LAVANDULA said...

catherine you are so hard on yourself sometimes...i'm sure we all at times resent our spouses the freedom they have. as for finding time me time spouse time children time its very hard.my children are vastly different in age 18,16,8 & 4.so trying to spend quality time with them is hard and my husband is often in bed before any of children as he has to be up at 3 a.m. so it is very hard to spend any time together.i just keeping telling myself that it will all work out for the best...

12:29 PM  
OpenID geeklady said...

It took me a little while to really condense my thoughts on this, and they're still long and rambling, but here it goes.

I can never imagine turning on Mike, or him turning on me. Not as our past selves, or our present ones, or anyone I can imagine us being in the future. Whatever the jobs, one kid or ten, the idea that we'd turn on each other just seems impossible. Even ludicrous.

We argue, nuts, we fight all the time. Marriage is hard, parenting is hard, life in general is hard, and we're both pigheaded individuals. So we fight, but they're usually flashes in the pan. It's rare that there's any lasting resentment between us. Having a kid just is one more thing life, the most importantthing, so the resulting fights are an order of magnitude huge-er.

Mike adores his son, but won't give him baths (he's not flexible enough to hunker down by the tub), won't feed him dinner unless I ask, forgets to change his diaper again unless I ask. And this drives me up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side. But he can get the baby to sleep without boobie, and will get up in the middle of the night to put GeekBaby back to sleep to spare my boobs pacifier duty, even when he has to get up at 4:45 am to leave by 5:30 for his hour long drive to the soul sucking horror of teaching HS spanish.

It's easy to forget this when all I want to do is write a blog post but the baby needs dinner and a bath and then he wants to nurse, and then by the time all this is done it's 8:30 already, and damn it I was at work all day too, why do I have to do all the baby tending when we get home from work? And did I mention the kid practically bit my nipple off last night and it hurts??

But while I'm baby wrangling, he's doing the dishes, or the laundry, or picking up, and maybe he's not doing these things to my standards, but he's doing them. And, thank God for small favors, he is not ALSO a baby that needs my constant tending and attention. He's my partner, my coworker, my fellow conspirator. I trust him without thinking about it. Ultimately, he has my back.

In turn that trust is supported by our closeness. Baby in tow or not, we spend time together. We talk, banter, pray together, we are noisy and silent together. We try to be open to each other. This is super hard, way harder than parenting in my opinion, because it really makes you vulnerable. With or without kids, it's so easy to get wrapped up and safe in your own little world and then you just drift apart. It's much harder to be open.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

My husband and I have one easy going 2-year-old and are contemplating having another. In my heart of hearts, I know that one is enough for me. However, everyone keeps telling me that my son needs a sibling. I'm so very torn about this.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
I want to thank Elizabeth 9:14 for sharing her perspective in having tooooo much to do in a 24 hour day. That really is the problem isn't it? I wouldn't mind any of this if there were more hours in the day to truly rest i.e get an 8 hour shift of sleep in. Then I wouldn't even mind the work of parenting. I am the one with the three kids under the age 3 years, two and a half months. My hubs works 80+ hours a week. HE is a new GP, who is trying to set up a practice. He leaves us all in the middle of the night to deliver someone else's baby. Every one thinks I am so lucky and it must be easy, must be nice to be a doctor's wife. But my life is hard too. We all need to replenish our energy or we are no good for anyone.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous courtney said...

What a great post. We're only on our first child, but I have already felt that resentment. That I'm doing it all and that he gets it easy. And then he gets frustrated because I'm mad with him and he feels like he's doing enough... it's hard.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

Miss Tessmacher and I just had this experience yesterday morning, when Roslyn was on her umpteenth day of feeling crummy and out of sorts because of incoming molars and outgoing ear infections. First we sniped at The Rozzle, then we quickly switched gears and started sniping at each other. On our way to work - a wonderful semester long panacea - we apologized sincerely and admitted that razzing each other in classic passive/aggressive mode was no solution for the exhaustion and frustration we both felt. And in that moment, we were allies once again.

If your hubby is everything you say he is, trust me: he will never pause for a second before carrying you, he will always give you the last coconut (even as his own ribs poke holes through his grass shirt), and he will never, ever resent you for it.

;-)

2:56 PM  
Blogger Alana said...

I hate kissing ass, but I'm afraid that's all I have to do here. I couldn't have said this better and I have sorely wanted to verbalize exactly this. We decided to have only one child and while it is an adventure, I feel I am in the same place that you are. It is so, so much harder than I ever could have imagined. Do you ever feel that this is a sign of OUR times? Previous generations not being exposed to the idea that we don't just nurture but that we PARENT (make sure to raise unspoiled, happy, smart, engaged people). I don't want to write a novella, but it is something I think about a lot.

While I have yet to read the other comments, I did want to praise you again for some of your wonderfully thought provoking posts on this topic. They have truly resonated with me and I appreciate your honesty.

4:14 PM  
Blogger MrsEmbers said...

Good Heavens- YOU ARE ME. Well, me if I could string together enough coherent and well-thought-out sentences to create a post this perfect.

Thank you for saying what so many of us can't!

9:27 AM  

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