Marriage & Babies

There’s a newspaper article from January of last year that’s been widely shared online. It’s titled, “Your kids should not be the most important in the family.” John Rosemond, family psychologist and author of the article, takes readers inside a session in which he asks a married couple, “Who are the most important people in your family?” Not to his surprise, they answer, “Our kids!” Rosemond spends the rest of the popular piece answering his own question: “There is no reasonable thing that gives your children that status.”

He continues, “I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they’re having with their kids – typical stuff, these days – are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they created a stable family.”

You can read the full article here.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, really. I first read the article in February. My daughter was 5 months old. While I understand the way you treat an infant greatly differs from the way you parent teenagers, I still felt as if my marriage had taken a backseat since the moment I became a mother. And, that was mostly my doing.

Like most new moms, I was exhausted. When my daughter was born, I saw myself as her lifeline. Technically, yes, it’s true. I was breastfeeding, and all that mattered was that she was fed; however, it was more than that. If she was upset or crying uncontrollably, I felt real pain. It hurt my heart, but it also made me feel physically ill. All I cared about was calming her and making her comfortable.

There were times when I’d be having a difficult time getting her to sleep. I couldn’t get the swaddle just right, or she wouldn’t latch during a nighttime nursing session. After my mom left, I stayed in the nursery at night. Though my husband insisted I move into our bedroom and let him help, I constantly refused. Honestly, I was being stubborn because I felt it was my duty. If she didn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep. That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?

You know those posts on Instagram or Facebook…the ones with pictures of the new dad holding his new baby girl or boy in the hospital. The new mom says something like, “I’ve never loved him more than I do right now [insert heart eyes emoji].” Yeah, those posts. Cue the eye rolls. Well, on my end, at least. The posts are genuine, I’m sure, but…I admit, this was not my experience.

I loved seeing my husband with our baby girl. Of course. Of course he was a good daddy! I mean, I married him, didn’t I? I married him because of his selflessness. He’s gentle, kind and determined. I was not surprised by this. Still, I wasn’t thinking, Man, I love him so much more in this very moment! What a HOT DAD! No, it was more like…Please don’t drop her.

The day I gave in and moved the bassinet and changing table into our bedroom, everything changed. My husband came home to the new arrangement, and he was ecstatic. We established a solid system, and I felt more rested than ever. I accepted his help, and it suddenly became fun. We were a team. He was my teammate.

This was a new normal that might have taken me longer to navigate than others. How can I be a wife and a mother? How do I give all I have to both relationships without becoming resentful? How can I give both of them what they need? These are thoughts I still have today, and our daughter is 14 months old!

What I do know is that I now recognize that I couldn’t do this without him. I recognize what he does for our family every single day, and I appreciate, though I don’t understand, the fact that he tells me I’m beautiful. I may roll my eyes at his compliments, but, secretly, his reassurance calms my irrational fears that he’s slowly becoming less and less attracted to me. There has not been a single day where he’s made me feel inadequate or disappointing. I can depend on social media for that one.

While it’s a learning process, my marriage is stronger than ever – but not for the picture-perfect, sparkly reasons people talk about on Instagram. It’s stronger because growing our family has been the most challenging thing we’ve ever done. Adapting from a couple to a family should never be sugarcoated, and we should never feel as if we can’t talk about our insecurities or mistakes.

My baby might be the cutest in the world, but my marriage is not perfect. It is ever-changing and requires attention and nourishment, communication and honesty. It’s a promise we made that we’ll never break. It is the most important in the family.

. . . 

When I became a mom, I was so baffled at the things nobody ever tells you. The things we don’t talk about. I hope this blog post resonates with you in some way and encourages you to TALK ABOUT IT! Those first months of motherhood can be lonely, but I hope you know you’re not alone. You’re doing the best you can do. Accepting help does not make you a bad mama — it makes you a much happier one…trust me! 

Sweet Dreams,
Mary Grace Pinkard
marygrace@thecradlecoach.com

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