Being a Couple being Parents

For some reason I thought that after we had a baby, it would just not even be a transition, but that everything about how our relationship worked before baby would just be exactly the same after baby. That's just silly

Going into being pregnant Chris and I had a really solid relationship. Both of us come from divorced parents and so we talked long and hard about our fears of having a baby and both of us feared that having a baby would cause us to fight and have difficulties and break up. That was something we really didn't want. For ourselves, or for our child. We also acknowledged that we have so much fun together with just the two of us and we were afraid having a baby might cramp our style. We obviously knew having a baby meant we couldn't do all the things we used to do as easily (we still haven't seen a movie in the theater yet, one of our old weekend staples). But we were pretty confident we'd be able to keep our relationship intact exactly how it was. Enter this cute little stinker

I can safely say two things: I have no idea how single parents do it, and I have no idea how couples who didn't have a strong relationship before survive. Over the 8+ years Chris and I were together before Zoe came we certainly had tough and happy times. There were times we fought, times we struggled and times where it was absolutely perfect. I was confident that because we had weathered those harder times that the hard times with a baby wouldn't strain so much.

I think we were really lucky to know so much about each other before Zoe came. We knew what made the other person really frustrated, what to do to make the other feel better, and when to leave each other alone for our own personal recharge. That solid foundation has certainly come in handy with Zoe. All things considered Zoe is a really happy baby, but just like every other person, sometimes she just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and has an off day. Each of us gets frustrated at different times and at different things and having that great base between us helps the tag team effort it sometimes takes when she gets fussy. For instance, Wednesday night I was super tired when I got home from work and Zoe was being a particularly special fusser butt. Chris just took over, took charge and worked his magic to help make her as happy as she could be. I was frustrated, tired, had a headache and a fussy baby was not helping. In those moments I am amazingly, especially thankful of our team effort

And although we have become a great team when it comes to taking care of Zoe, the first two months were a bit strange when it came to a team of just me and him as a couple. We were very specific in our desire to still be a couple as well as parents after Zoe came along when we were pregnant. We didn't want to lose the fun of just me and him, we didn't want to always talk about the baby, we wanted to make sure there was still an element of our pre-baby life - just now we were parents also.

But it was weird to get used to when the time finally came. My mom babysat one night around the 2 month mark so that we could go on a date night. I was so excited for it. But it did feel a bit strange at first. Zoe had been so attached to both of us - wherever we went, she went. Whatever we did, she did. It was certainly a lot different to all of a sudden not have the stinker along for the ride with us. But as the night went on we got our mojo back. We went out to eat, played mini golf (we're now 4-5-4 with Chris in the lead, damnit) and then went to get ice cream. By the end of the night I was feeling the couple love again. We were parents now, but that didn't mean that we weren't still a couple.

There's no denying that this little lady rules the roost now

But it's also really important for Chris and I (and any parents) to carve out time for each other. To make sure you're still on the same page with parenting, your relationship, your goals, etc. It's easy to let a baby take over your life in more ways than one, but all along the way of being pregnant I wanted to maintain my own identity outside of being a mom and I wanted to maintain my relationship with Chris. Part of the reason I went back to work so soon was so that I had my own thing going on. I love Zoe with all my heart, but part of being a good parent is making sure that you're happy with yourself and with your partner (if you're lucky enough to have a partner in crime to take on the crazy adventure. I seriously have no idea how single parents do it, they are amazing).

I love that Chris and I can be honest with each other and tell each other what we need, what we want and when we just need time to ourselves. It's important to learn now to devote time to ourselves as individuals, as a couple and as parents. For some reason I thought that transition would be super easy. Chris and I had always been a team and I didn't understand why adding a new variable to the mix would change anything. But just like when we started working on the house, it was a little hard at first to learn what our roles were. When did Chris take the lead and when did I take the lead? It's been the same way with Zoe in terms of learning who's better at dealing with certain things. And all along the way it will change. When she's 6 months we'll learn new skills, when she's 1 year there will be new frustrations

But I'm thankful to have someone who works hard along for the ride with me. And I'm thankful for the many years we had together before Zoe came along to really get to know each other so incredibly well and to feel so comfortable with each other. I am never afraid to tell Chris about the things I'm scared of, nervous about, think I can't do well, and I always know he will be there when I need help. He has been such a great partner and it's fun to discover a new part of our relationship together as parents. Sure, there isn't as much time for just the two of us anymore, but it makes those moments more special. Plus, how adorable is it to see your partner with your child?

It doesn't get much better.


LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Great post...I have had a lot of the same thoughts. Jay and I have been together 9 years now...and MAN I have no idea how ppl do it without a base like that.

Love your parenting posts :-)

meryl rose said...

Thanks! :) And seriously, having that foundation helps SO MUCH.