Thursday, August 21, 2014

Married...With Children

I was never one who needed a child to make my marriage or my life feel complete. Yes, I loved kids and I knew I wanted children, but after five long years of trying and many hard steps and stumbles along the way, I was okay with the possibility of our family consisting of just Charming, myself and the kitties. If Babycakes had never come along Charming and I would have been fine and life would have continued on.

But now after Babycakes is here we can't imagine our life without her. Charming just stated the other day he can't remember what our life was like BEFORE we had a baby. He didn't mean this in a bad way, just that we are so content with her it seems like she's always been here. And I agree. I know our life was fine, fun-filled and we were able to buy or do whatever we wanted within reason (Probably the only thing that gives me pause these days because that can be a hard habit to break. Dinner out? Well, we'd have to do it around the baby's schedule and can we afford it because we need to buy diapers? It just doesn't seem as important these days.)

Having a baby does put a certain kind of strain on a marriage. This isn't always a bad thing but can be a challenge at times. Figuring out how to juggle everything takes up a huge part of our days. How will we fit errands in? Do we need to split up or can we take the baby? Who is going to feed her, change her, entertain her while the other person has something to do? Whose tasks are deemed more important to do right now and whose can wait? This delicate balance gets even trickier when breastfeeding is involved because only one of you have the tools to feed the baby unless all you do is pump and bottle feed. Resentment and guilt from either party can build up over one person doing everything while the other person gets to "chill" on the couch nursing the baby. What we have discovered is an open dialogue works best. After one or two times of boiling anger occurring because someone didn't realize they wanted to do something and "I watched the baby while YOU did XYZ and you can't watch her for one measly hour while I do this ONE thing" accusations started to fly, we realized pretty quickly establishing communication of wants and needs is key. Some times things get pushed aside and that's okay. We work really hard to find a way to make everyone mostly happy with Babycakes obviously coming first, because that is what parenting is all about. Sacrificing time, money, sanity, etc. for your child. But we are careful to not let us get lost in the baby shuffle.

The hardest part of having children is definitely the financial strain. I knew babies were expensive. I knew we would be paying for years for things we probably never even thought of like after school sports and field trips and back to school clothes. But knowing it and living it are two totally different things. Watching money just leak out of our bank accounts is discouraging, especially since I wish I did not have to work so I could be with my child but I have to work in order to have the money to pay for raising a child. It's the worst kind of irony. Money is about the only thing Charming and I can have headed discussions about, mostly when there is none and we're stressing about how to survive another week or if one of us wants to revert back to our pre-baby times and buy something we absolutely don't need and absolutely want most desperately. We both have our weaknesses and some days it's hard to think about Babycakes first and us second when the new Coach handbag line is sent directly to my email. I really should unsubscribe from that temptation...

There used to be days in the beginning when I barely touched Charming. We try not to let that happen. We focus on getting Babycakes' needs taken care of but also finding slivers of time for each other. Even if it is just taking a few seconds to kiss in the kitchen, or give a hug and thank that person for helping out, it makes a difference. Some days I find a note in my dinner from Charming and it makes my night. Other times I do something for Charming I know he would have to do later that I can do right then because I have the time. Small, simple ways to let each other know we are thinking of us.

There are times when we reminisce about the "before" days, lamenting on how we could go to a show on a whim or not worry about saving money for college. The days when we both weren't so exhausted and our days off were spent doing things we liked to do rather than things we have to do. The tough days are when we are both beaten down from trying to wrangle Babycakes for hours on end and neither of us can remember if we ate anything in the last six hours. And we certainly can't drum up the energy to be intimate when we could sleep or eat instead. Before there were days no room in our house was safe from a visit to Funkytown, but at this point #2 is just a thought that will only come to fruition if the Immaculate Conception is indeed possible the second time around. We wonder why we did this to ourselves when we had a nice, quiet life before and didn't need anything else to make it complete.

And then Babycakes will start to laugh as Charming rolls around with her on the floor in a sea of throw pillows and I tickle her feet as she crawls by getting a big gummy grin as she changes course and makes a beeline to climb on me and our life just clicks. She made it complete and us individually and as a couple are better because of her. She made us whole and we didn't even know we need another slice to our family pie.

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