Essential Wisdom for New Parents on Valentine's Day
Having a baby is probably one of the single most life altering events a human can experience. Once that little bundle of joy makes it’s way (screaming and crying most likely) into the world, life as you know it will never, I repeat, NEVER be the same again.
If you’re a woman, there will be no mystery left between you and your husband. He will know what you smell like sans perfume after you’ve been in labor for 18+ hours. He’ll see your beautiful, messy hair covered in spit up and baby lotion. If you’re breastfeeding, he will spend long hours listening to you cry at 3:00AM because it hurts so bad and “holy cow, why does my baby want to eat every 45 minutes!?”
If you’re a man, you’ll experience sleep deprivation on a scale you’ve never imagined before. The whole “you sleep when the baby sleeps” is pretty much a myth those first few months. You get so used to hearing the baby cry and coo all night, that if three seconds pass without a sound you’re suddenly wide awake wondering “is he alive!? is he breathing??” Before you know it morning has come and no one is in the mood to be romantic when you’ve had a total of 5 hours rest in the last couple of days.
Now, if you’re not a parent please don’t think “dear God I will NEVER have children now.” The hardships that come with bringing new life into the world also serve to bring you closer to your significant other.
Once you have a child, it takes your relationship to a whole other intimate level, but in many ways it’s almost like starting over from the beginning again. Methods of communication that worked previously are suddenly impractical, because now every daily routine has an element of negotiation and partnership that didn’t exist before.
- Who’s turn is it to put the baby to sleep?
- Do you eat first, while I watch the baby, then switch?
- My back hurts, can you put the baby in the car seat this time?
- Can I please shower? It's been three days and yes, I know you have work to do, but I also need to feel clean again.
Things like that…
But if there is one piece of wisdom I can impart to new parents on Valentine’s Day it’s this: date your spouse.
Yes, deep down you and your partner are still the same people, but now you’ll need to get to know who your spouse is as a parent. You’ll also need to reestablish the romance again post pregnancy, because all of the coordinating, planning, and responsibility of being parents can start to make your marriage feel more like a business partnership rather than a loving union of two people.
On a personal note: this was a lesson David and I learned the hard way…
I think it was almost a full year before David and I allowed ourselves to go out without Ezra. A large part of it was fear, not because something bad would happen to our baby, but because we had lost touch with what it was like to be a couple. We always knew our relationship was strong, but even after several months of no down time outside of the house, it started to take its toll. It also didn’t help that David works from home and I’m a stay-at-home mom. At one point we found ourselves in a heated argument because David decided to eat a bowl of cereal while watching T.V., when I thought we were going to play a board game and talk (I know, I know, we’re such old people!).
It was only when we confronted our fears, got out of our parenting routine, and made the effort to get to know the other person again, that we started to feel the tension in our marriage let up. We’ve only been on maybe three dates in the last three months, but it’s progress. The goal is to eventually have a date night at least once a week or maybe every two weeks.
In summary, I'm not saying that you need to drop everything you're doing and go on a date right this moment, but at least make a plan to have one in the near future. Loving a child is a wonderful, selfless act, but you won't be any good to anyone if you don't take the time to practice self care and relationship care.