My husband and I were older when we got married, which meant that we wanted to start a family as soon as the ink dried on the wedding license. Getting pregnant turned out to be easy as pie for us. Soon we had fun loading up on little boy clothes, and my husband became an expert at test-driving strollers. I like to think of this joyful time as the “dating phase” in parenthood.
Amidst all the fun we were having, I’m so thankful that I lived up to my rule-following instincts and had my hospital bag packed months in advance. Our little man decided to make a dramatic and grand appearance one month early. My water actually broke while I was accepting an award in a banquet hall filled with hundreds of people. Talk about having an exciting labor story — we certainly have one for the books!
Thankfully, a happy and healthy baby boy soon joined our world and it was bliss. The “honeymoon phase” officially began. Family surrounded us for a few weeks helping with meals, allowing me to sleep, and running errands for all our needs. But soon after my family went back to Texas and my husband returned to work, I began to feel the magnitude of this isolation and responsibility. This new creature was dependent on me for everything. My mommy to-do list never ended. Again I say, NEVER ended. Reality had hit. Dating and honeymooning were gone. This was life. It hardly felt like there was time to breathe, which meant there certainly wasn’t time for God, let alone time to cultivate a new marriage.
My husband would come home from work and wonder why I hadn’t showered or at least changed out of the clothes I had been in for days. I wanted to scream “Look, buddy, my day hasn’t been easy! Back off.” I wanted my husband to just magically read my mind and know every need I had, and I wanted him to meet those needs instantly. I am not going to sugar coat it. It was a stressful. Through a slew of tears and intense conversations, I learned some valuable lessons in the art of motherhood and marriage.
1. Do More Than Baby Talk
Once parenthood begins, it can become so easy to have your world revolve around this precious new life that you can forget everything and everyone else. I mentioned that I had an unrealistic expectation that my husband would know everything I needed to make my heart sing. Not true. He didn’t know that I really needed him to come home from work and say, “Hey, I am home. Take a 10-minute break for whatever you need.” He didn’t realize I needed him to surprise me with take-out. He didn’t know that I was going crazy because my phone alarm would go off every three hours and remind me to feed my child. How could he know when I didn’t communicate? As parents, it’s vital that we communicate our needs and wants to each other and not just spend our days cooing and oohing over the baby.
2. Cry Like A Baby
I truly believed that if I took even 7 minutes of time away from the baby to run to the corner store, take a shower, or even call a friend I was being a horrific mom. I mean, the baby needed me for everything, right? But this mentality of being supermom began to wear me out and down. I needed a date night, a girl’s night, and I most certainly needed a warm bubble bath with candlelight. But I didn’t know how to say that out of fear that I would be seen as weak or selfish. So what happens when a baby needs something but they don’t have the words to express it? They cry. Sure enough, my inability to care for myself as I was caring for others resulted in tears. And these tears turned into a group effort of helping me find balance in me time, baby time, and family time. I now have monthly date nights and regular girl’s night out time. I am a better mom for it. Just as your children need your help, don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself.
3. Bond With Your “Babe”
Besides being a wife, mother, and writer for Cravings, I am the Family Life Director for a large church. This means I work a pretty hectic schedule. I leave the house in the morning and return with just enough time to get everyone dinner, give baths, have a bit of play time, read a Bible story with the kids, pray together, and then do the final good-nights. Because of my husband’s work schedule, he goes to bed as soon as the kids are down. This leaves us very few hours in the day that my husband and I actually talk. We started to notice that there was a disconnect between us, and we needed to do something about it. We needed to figure out some way, even if it was just for a small pocket of time, that we could share what was going on with each other. We decided to make a prayer journal as a couple. Every night after the kids are down, we share 2-3 prayer requests we each have and then we pray over them together. Sometimes it only takes us minutes and other times it turns into long conversations. But it is our way of bonding with each other every day. Your infant baby is not your only “babe” that needs love.
Babies and children are wonderful, amazing, and a true gift from God. But our priorities need to be lined up: God, spouse, family, and ministry. If having children has thrown your family out of balance, I encourage you to realign with these principles. When God comes first in your life, you will be a better spouse, parent, and friend.
Copyright © 2012 Carey Bailey Used by permission.
About Carey Bailey:
Carey Bailey is a recovering perfectionist, wife, proud mama, and Family Life director for her church in Surprise, Ariz. On the side she loves party planning, crafting, and pursuing her dream of writing. She has a degree in religion from Westminster College and writes at her blog found at www.CareyBaileyOnline.com. She has just released Cravings – A Devotional, a set of devotional cards in a ceramic cupcake, Psalms for moms.