A friend once told me that she and her partner were having troubles and hoped having a baby might bring them closer together. It was a sad moment, and I struggled with what to say because I was a mom myself and knew all too well the strain a baby puts on even the sturdiest of relationships. My friend and her partner figured things out, thank goodness, but I often think about the perception people have of parenthood, couplehood, and how the two are intertwined. Well, this mom's post thanking her partner during their years of "no sleep" is such a great reminder that those years are tough... but that being present will help you get through them.
Lauren Spacher — who is a mom of three kids under 4 and the author and voice behind the Facebook page From Blacktop to Dirt Road — took a moment out of her day recently to reflect on the realities of parenting with her husband, Eric. She wrote on Facebook:
These are the years that we don't sleep. The years that we hear cries in the night and give cuddles in the darkness. The years that we don't sleep in the same bed, but brush hands in the hallway as we pass one another by. The years that are short, but that nights that are so long. The years that we change sheets in the middle of the night and sleep with buckets next to the bed.
Spacher's post should sound familiar to plenty of parents just trying to keep their heads above water; taking care of small children is an all-consuming, exhausting venture that does not take the hours on the clock into account. And it can be incredibly wearing on couples who start to feel overwhelmed, and even disconnected from each other. But it's important to remember that you are a team, and you're in it together, as Spacher wrote:
The years that we wake up weary, and maybe a little snarky, and have to say, "I'm sorry," as we rub our tired eyes, and choose to forgive the grumpiness once again. The years that we cling to one another in the early morning hours, looking into each other's tired eyes, knowing that there is no one else either of us would want to be this exhausted with.
A 2016 study looked at the long-term effects of parenthood on a marriage. Researchers looked at couples with children and couples without children for a period of 30 years, and found that couples with children reported nearly twice the level of marital dissatisfaction as those without, according to Fortune. Which makes so much sense, considering the exhaustion, the distraction, and the all-consuming love a parent feels for their little person.
But maybe it doesn't have to be that way. Maybe a little reflection helps, a moment out of your day to realize that the parenting years are short... but hopefully, the years you will share with your partner are long.
And you can get through it together. As Spacher wrote in her beautiful message to her husband:
Yes, these are the years that we don't sleep. The years that they say that someday we will miss. But this morning, this is the morning that I'm thankful for you, my partner of musical beds and up all nighters. This morning I'm thankful that I have you for the years that we don't sleep.
Her post clearly resonated with other parents who might be struggling to stay connected with their person; the comment section was full of people tagging their partners' names.
Because sometimes, it's easier if someone else can say the words for you. And if it brings people back to each other, helping them find that anchor again, Spacher's post did a wonderful thing.
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