when he was the man I married and not the father of our son, I used to greet
my husband with deep kisses and long hugs as he stepped through our door. Now,
nearly 10 years together, it takes real energy for me to muster anything more
than an honest smile and brow raise.
What changed? We became parents
five-and-half years ago. And, more specifically, I became someone’s mother.
still love this man with everything I have. I like him as much, too. It’s just
that something shifted once this tiny person entered the picture, forcing me to
splinter off into other beings: mother, wife, me. It’s a challenge
moving through these different selves, trying to preserve them as whole and
real. Too often, one version of me absorbs everything — all the time,
all the attention, all the dedication, love and tenderness — while the others
sit at low simmer on the backburner, dwindling.
first year of motherhood, I was completely consumed by trying to do my best for
this child. I was pressed for time all
the time, juggling everything and putting the Mom part of me at the top of
the list. Through it all, I kept hearing assurances by many (doctors, elders, other
mom friends) that this was completely normal and to be expected. My husband and
I became more like teammates, tackling this overwhelming thing called new
parenthood, and less like crazy-in-love idealists determined to straighten out
this tilted world. We laughed and learned and poured love all over our new family
of three. Still, something felt off, something was missing. My husband and I stayed
very close, but not in the way we used to be, not like those kid-free days.
Although my husband was ever thoughtful and kind, there seemed to be sorrow
there as well. He was pining for his wife. Truth told, I missed The Wife too.
But I didn’t know how to bring that part of me to the forefront. Trying to find
my way back to how it once was — husband and wife vs. everyone else — required a level of energy that most days I simply didn’t have.
It’s just that something shifted once this tiny person entered the picture, forcing me to splinter off into other beings: mother, wife, me.
I started talking about this drift apart, about this internal struggle — Mom vs. Wife — with other women. Instead of assurances that it’s normal and to be expected, I was met with deep nods, "Amens" and sometimes tears. These other women, some who were five, six, nine years into motherhood, were in the midst of the same battle. They, too, understood the importance of shining some of that dedicated focus on raising healthy, happy kids onto the other vital relationship in the house: the one with their spouse. And they were looking, in earnest, for ways to turn things around.
For me, being aware means taking action, making
changes to help us move from being two ships passing into sailing together on the
Love Boat. It starts small, but it’s sure and must be steady to be effective. So
now, when this man I chose to marry steps through the front door, I’m making
every effort to pause from building LEGOs, look up from my laptop and into
his eyes to say, "hello."