Here’s the truth: When I walk through the door after work, I run right past my husband -- the man I chose to procreate with in the first place -- and straight to our four-month-old rolling around on his playmat. I shower my baby boy with kisses and coo “how was your day, cutie pie? Did you have a good day? Mommy missed you so much!” Meanwhile, my husband, who is currently on paternity leave, smiles at us sweetly but I barely notice.
When we found out we were expecting last year, I was elated. I fell even more in love with my husband, the only person in this world I wanted to start a family with. I also became a little obsessed with making sure we were working on our marriage and communication, especially as we forged ahead growing our family. My mentality has always been that it’s important to have a strong partnership with the person you choose to raise your children with, not only because it sets a good example for your kids, I think, but because it helps keep you sane. My mother was a single parent, who did an amazing job raising her kids solo, but I saw how hard it was for her. And I felt the pressure of being a parent’s sole focus. And so my husband and I promised each other that we weren’t going to forget about our own relationship after the baby came.
Flash forward to the present. My husband and I have yet to go to out to lunch or dinner or anywhere alone. And it’s not because we don’t have a loving grandma or reliable babysitter to watch our son for a few hours or because my husband isn’t game. It’s because I can’t bear to leave my baby yet. It’s probably also because I’m so exhausted I’d rather get some sleep than go out and have a conversation with anyone, including my husband. And sex? Yeah, what? I can barely keep my eyes open conversing with adults...how am I going to muster enough energy for that? My body also feels like it’s been hit by five garbage trucks and if anyone other than my baby touches my boobs, I might just lose it.
As I headed back to work (it’s true, by the way: the anticipation of going back to work is worse than actually going back to work), a big fat realization smacked me right on the head: I had completely forgot about us. Not only about us, but about him. Even when my husband and I did spend a few minutes on the couch together after the baby was asleep, the only thing I wanted to talk about was our son; was he too cold in his crib? Should we give him more tummy time? He’s not going to turn out like Kevin in We Need To Talk About Kevin, right?? And if my husband didn’t seem too keen on over-analyzing every aspect of our son’s bodily functions, I would just pack it in for the day and head to bed with barely a “goodnight.” I felt terrible. And I vowed to work harder at connecting with my husband. But every night after work, I’d continue to rush past my husband and scoop my little boy up, and so on would the evening go.
I’m not sure if I sound like a total crap wife or just a new mom who is being too hard on herself. Maybe a little of both. But I’m giving myself a break from any more guilt. There’s always something to feel guilty about -- always. We new moms need unlimited hall passes during those first few months. Sure, I’d love to be both a perfect mother and a perfect partner right now, but, like a wise friend recently told me, I have to be soft with myself. And I’m lucky enough to have a partner who understands all of this (and while he’s an amazing person and a damn good dad, he, too, is not perfect). Things will get easier, and, with a little bit of hard work on both of our parts, our marriage will be back on track. It probably won’t be how it was before, but that’s OK, and that’s life. I know we will figure it out as we embrace the changes, the good and the ugly, and continue to appreciate how lucky -- truly lucky -- we are. And I know that one sweet day, I’ll rush through the door and embrace both of my boys in a big bear hug and we’ll all tell each other about our day.