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There’s a lot that happens when a couple has their first baby

Sleepless nights. 

Endless, life-impacting decisions. 

The world being turned upside down.

Re-creating a “new normal.”

A constant fear of things going wrong.

The steep learning curve for both parents.

The list could go on, and on, and on. And I’ve heard it all… The good, the bad, the ugly, the astoundingly beautiful… And it’s all made me a little worried.

Reality Check

First, let me back up for a second. My husband and I have been married a little over a year, and we are not hoping to have kids for another two years or so. That being said, I’m fully convinced that I was brought into this world to be a mother. You can ask any friends or family. That whole “motherly instinct” has always come very naturally to me.

But for my husband… not so much. Although we both want kids someday, the timeframe and the number of kids differ just a little bit (or a lot, depending on the day). Even though we don’t have kids yet, the conversations around our future kids have already caused some division between us. And it’s caused a little bit of fear for the day that we do become parents.

And as we watch friends around us start to have kids and we hear the stories they share about all the challenges that come with starting a family, our fear has only grown…

“Wait, WHAT happens during delivery??”

“Are you SURE you want to go through that?”

“When we have kids, you can’t ________ anymore.”

“Why don’t we wait till we’re 40 and just adopt?”

“We’re cranky enough in the mornings on 8 hours of sleep.”

“There are very few parts of parenting that sound like a good thing…”

These are just a few pieces of conversations we’ve had about our future. The fear is real. And it’s for good reason.

But the desire to have kids is also real. Very real. So how do you balance the fear of parenting, the fear of having kids, the fear for your marriage—with the desire to have kids? Well, I can’t fully answer that for you. That’s something you and your spouse are going to have to work through together. But I can give you a few tips on how to have that conversation!

Here are a few questions to ask each other before having a baby:

  1. What are you most fearful about when it comes to having kids?
  2. In what area do you think having kids will cause us to have the most conflict?
  3. Is there anything we can do now to work on that area before we have kids?
  4. What tendencies do you see in me that might be a problem for you once we have kids?
  5. How will we share responsibilities so that one spouse isn’t totally overwhelmed?
  6. Are you willing to start our routines completely from scratch?
  7. How can we work together as a team and rely on each other’s strengths?
  8. What are your top 3 expectations of me as a parent?
  9. What roles did your mom and dad play in your life growing up? Are there ways you want to be like them? Not be like them?
  10. What are things I can do right now to help us both not fear becoming parents?

Prioritize Your Marriage

Having kids rocks your world. I don’t know that from experience, but I’ve been told that what seems like a bajillion times, so it must be true. Kids are a lot. They come with new responsibilities, new challenges, and new things to argue about.

And if you let it, being a parent might overtake being a spouse. But the key is to always prioritize your marriage first. Yes, kids require a lot. But they grow up. And after they’re grown, you’ll still have your spouse by your side.

So, choose today to strengthen your marriage. Actually, choose every day to strengthen your marriage. And the rest, even babies, will fall into place—a wonderful place.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Bringing hostess gifts, preparing a side dish, pulling up a makeshift chair to a coffee table for dinner are all things I love to do. I’m all about surrounding myself with friends and family, hugging each other’s necks, and seeing each other whenever we want. The pre-quarantine life seemed perfect for my extroverted self.

Unexpectedly, however, as we seem to be moving back toward “business as usual,” I’ve noticed I’ve changed. I’ve found myself already grieving the loss of what some people may call too much time with their spouse, too much time to think, and too much time to spare. I don’t want to downplay the lives COVID-19 has claimed too early and the hardship it’s caused for many families. However, I do want to reflect on the silver linings I discovered in quarantine.

Just like some of you are surprised by people who are dying to return to normalcy, I’m just as surprised reading that someone isn’t looking forward to it. But, my life during COVID has been simplified, which has been exactly the change of pace I didn’t know I needed. My life has always danced on the fine line between chaotic and the perfect storm. 

The majority of the almost 7 years we dated, my husband Tyler and I were on different schedules. If I was in class, he was out. If he wanted to have a date night, I had other responsibilities to the high schoolers I was mentoring. I would go into work as he was getting off. Goodness, even during our engagement we only saw each other once a week. (Which let’s be honest, was probably spent on wedding planning.)

Once we married and moved in together, I started a new job. He had one year of teaching under his belt when all of the standards changed, which by the way, only change once every six years. So as I was navigating my new normal, he was redoing all of his lesson plans from the year prior. As a result, our time together wasn’t exactly quality. My dad died unexpectedly. Someone wrecked into Tyler’s car. Both of our cars needed repairs. We went to small groups on different nights of the week. I had work events on the weekend… our life was nonstop

We felt like we couldn’t catch a break. And if we got a break, it didn’t feel like we had the time to take it. We spent our evenings preparing for the next day. 

Now vs. Then

Fast forward to now. I’ve spent more quality time, not just time, with my sweetheart. It’s been more intentional, romantic, purpose-driven time than we’ve known what to do with. We kiss leaving the room, catch up on how we are doing during meals, cuddle more and nag less. 

We’re like two best friends who are co-workers for different jobs but under the same roof. We have worked so well together and kept each other motivated. The thought of returning to work and “business as usual” under different roofs just makes me want to… be a little dramatic and shed a tear. (Notice, I did only say a little dramatic.) 

I don’t want to give up any of this unprecedented, long cravedfor quality time. 

I feel like I’m in a period of transition and growth, and I never thought my social-butterfly self would be sad about giving up alone time. Prior to this quarantine, the thought of not having someone to see or someplace to go on my schedule made me feel like I was doing something wrong. 

Now, I’ve redefined “busyness” as exhausting instead of a measure of my importance. (I have used my busyness to measure how valuable I am as a person since high school.)

I’ve been learning to love Tyler better and how my extroverted-self needed permission to be “selfish.” Now I use the energy I normally over-poured into others for myself and for Tyler.

As I sit here typing on my couch in practically pajamas, I know with a slight turn of my head, I can catch a smile from Tyler and that I’m a few steps in my pink fuzzy slippers away from a kiss.

I’m treasuring this. I want to hold onto what I’ve learned about myself and how my life has changed for the positive because of this standstill.

I think the question we will all ask ourselves as our country pulls up its bootstraps and heads back to work is, “Will I change the way I live my life, or will I snap back into the place I was?” 

We are all wading in unknown waters, but one thing is for certain: We have the choice to sink or swim. To choose what gives us life or choose what drains it. I want to choose what gives me life.

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