At night, when I can't sleep, I end up replaying my life like a film. I scrutinize my past decisions and wonder if I've really made the right choices or if my life is just one big, giant mistake. This unhealthy exercise almost always leads to motherhood. What would it be like if I didn't have kids? What would my marriage be like if my husband and I didn't have kids? After all, having kids changed everything and put such a huge strain on our relationship that, sometimes, I feel like having a baby with my husband was a mistake.
I love our family, don't get me wrong, and I can't imagine my life without our kids. I do miss my husband, though. I miss the man that wasn't constantly tired, cranky, and stressed out. I miss the man I married. And while this tired, cranky, stressed out version of my husband is still a wonderful father and partner in life, I can't help but think back on our relationship pre-baby and feel a sense of profound loss.
Co-parenting has slowly changed us, and in ways that are undeniable. We went from being an adventurous, fun, and sexy couple to becoming two boring gears in a baby-raising machine. We follow the same routines nearly every day, and while we are surviving I'm not sure I'd say that we're thriving. Yes, I find happiness as a mom and a wife and a co-parent, but I'd be lying if I said I don't wonder, from time to time, if we're really living our best life. There must be more than this, right?
Parenthood has also changed our relationship. The stresses of co-parenting have caused us to have fights we never had before our son was born. I know that all couples fight, of course, and I know that any relationship requires re-shaping your life to fit the wants and needs of someone else. I know that compromise isn't easy and when you're living with another human being there's bound to be some conflict. But parenthood has made even the tiniest arguments turn into fights, and made the small things feel like monumental things.
Most of the time, honestly, I would rather sleep. Which is why I'm left wondering if our relationship is resilient enough to make it through a couple more years of sleepless nights and petty fights.
When our son came into the world we had to re-shape our lives again, and, as a result, we don't always have time, energy, and patience left over for one another. We give all we have to our son, and it's often at the detriment of our marriage. And while we know this is a problem and that we need to focus on one another more frequently, it's easy to let the required care of our relationship fall by the wayside when we're incredibly busy, tired, and overwhelmed.
Continuously caring for our relationship isn't as easy as going on a date night or scheduling sex. We don't always have the time, the money, or the energy to hire a babysitter or be intimate. Most of the time, honestly, I would rather sleep. Which is why I'm left wondering if our relationship is resilient enough to make it through a couple more years of sleepless nights and petty fights. I sure as hell hope so.
Since having my youngest child I kind of resent my husband, too. I resent his ability to go to work and have adult interactions on a daily basis. I resent his presumed secondary parenting role when we attend family gatherings or take our kids to the museum. I resent his ability to sleep through our child crying, or his ability to go to the bathroom by himself. I resent the moments when he gets major praise for doing things that I do every damn day. I resent when he comes home from work and asks what I did all day.
I want to believe that people romanticizing motherhood and marriage are right, and eventually I will find myself in a joyful, magical existence that is as effortless as it is beautiful.
Sometimes I resent my kids, too. Like this morning, when I was picking up blocks from our living room floor and my toddler came over and overturned the box. So I started picking the blocks up again, and again my son came and overturned the box. I started to laugh, but only to keep from crying. It helped that he found so much joy in making another mess, and it sure is hard to stay mad at him when he's so cute. But at least 99 percent of the time I feel like I'm pushing a giant rock up off a hill... or I'm simply picking blocks up off the floor over and over and over again.
While my husband is a great father, the bulk of parenting and household tasks end up being my responsibility. I'm the project manager of our home, and having another baby to manage has negatively impacted how I feel about my husband and our kids. Because, unfortunately, trying to have a conversation about disparity in parenting almost always end in an argument and a discussion about our choice to have another baby. And that's where I'm stuck, because even if I had a time machine I wouldn't use it to take my son back. I don't want to live in a reality that doesn't have him in it, but I want things to be easier, and more equal, than they are now.
I want to believe it's all worth it. I want to believe that people romanticizing motherhood and marriage are right, and eventually I will find myself in a joyful, magical existence that is as effortless as it is beautiful. Perhaps the good moments will far outweigh the bad, instead of narrowly edging them out.
Is this life I'm living the best life I could've lived? I have no idea. But I do know that time moves quickly. I know that, before too long, I will have more "me time" again, and more time to devote to my husband and our marriage. I know that our relationship can be made stronger by the trials and tribulations of parenthood, if we just put in the work.
But until then, I will try to stop looking back at my life and the decisions I've made and, instead, in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, continue to look forward.