marriage

After Year One of Parenting, Creating A Re-United Front

Here’s the deal: I hit the husband jackpot when I got married. I know this is a super obnoxious and eye-rolling inducing thing to say, but it’s true. His mother, twin sister, and I all agree that he’s our real life Randall from “This is Us”. He has the same laser sharp focus on the needs of his family and methodically works to fulfill them. He’s a one-man pit crew in our house, keeping the whole shebang running.

I’ve heard this theory that in every relationship, one person is a “reacher” and the other is a “settler”. Sometimes I look at his luxurious Brazilian curls and perfect brown skin and think “damn it I’m the reacher!” I mean I’m cool with it. I bring good stuff to the table, even if his hair is way better than mine.

We met in graduate school. One of a handful of the classes we had together was a course on negotiation. We were paired up against another student and when we discussed our strategy, I wrote “united front” on a piece of paper. This turned out to be one of the most romantic moments of all time because I got to tell that story when I vowed to him “a united front” at our wedding.

I’m a super romantic reacher.

We had talked a lot about becoming parents long before our son was born. Everything from raising a child within the context of organized religion to not feeding him puffs because they have zero nutritional value. For the record, the former still fluctuates from time to time and the latter, well, our child basically lived on puffs for a while. It turns out that a lot of our talk about parenting before actually becoming parents turned out to be just that.

What we had not talked about was how having a baby would impact us individually. And subsequently, how it would impact our partnership. On maternity leave when people would ask me how things were going, I often responded with “the baby is the easy part; the grown-ups are the bigger challenge.”

Example: I called him one afternoon as he was on his way into the Capitol to meet with a legislator. I was crying. A lot. “I am here every single day taking care of our baby and becoming increasingly obsolete in my career that I love. Meanwhile, you go to work every day and do not have to pay a price professionally for becoming a parent. I have nothing to show for taking care of him! It’s not like he can conduct a performance evaluation!”

You get the idea. Legitimate thoughts and feelings? Absolutely. Pretty common concerns about your career when becoming a mom? Duh. Important to communicate this to my partner in crime? Without a doubt. In the middle of the day as he’s on his way into a meeting, while I’m sleep-deprived, hormonal, and alone with a newborn for too many hours? Ya know, maybe not.

He listened. He agreed with the struggle. He was compassionate and patient. He then asked nicely if we could continue the conversation later because he was now late for his meeting.

When I was pregnant, I wrote him a letter entitled “United Front, Chapter Two.” I told him that as we prepared to become parents, I wanted us to remember that our partnership existed before the baby. I wrote that “our gaze will shift from inwards at you and me to outwards at this human we made. But, I do not want us to lose sight of us.”

I can honestly and very humbly say that in this first year of being parents, it turned out to be pretty impossible to not lose sight of us. Like so many parents who have gone before, our kid stole our hearts and minds in a way that no amount of talk beforehand could have even begun to prepare us for. We learned that becoming a mom and becoming a dad is kind of a big deal.

As we reflect on year one, the united front is coming back into view. The new baby fog has lifted and we are able to see us again. We definitely look a little different, but there is even more happiness than before and a new, deeper kind of strength. Plus, his hair is still amazing and I try not to call him crying as much.

I have always believed that your kid’s first birthday is not about your kid. It’s about parents keeping their tiny human alive. Actually, keeping everything in the household alive: dogs, cats, adults, child(ren), plants, whatever. Keeping the domestic unit intact after the birth of a child is a monumental feat of epic proportions. I always told friends to celebrate this massive accomplishment more than anything else. The kid will get their birthday glory for the rest of their lives. Our celebrating included frigid winter hiking, delicious old old-fashioneds, undisturbed – and still warm – meals, and most importantly, uninterrupted conversation.

Here’s a fun fact: our son was born on our dating anniversary. Of all the predictions from our family and friends of his birth date, I was hoping for one of the latest dates because it was our anniversary. His due date was January 25th and I wanted February 4th. Lo and behold, that is when he made his entrance into the world – six years after our first date. So, I’m either a masochist for even entertaining the thought that he be 10 days overdue, or as previously stated, a really romantic reacher.

Either way, this will be really handy. The birth of our kid will always coincide with the beginning of us. And one should be celebrated just as much as the other.

Written by Blooma Mama Ann

Lovin' Ain't Easy

I love you Always…But Today I Don’t Like You.

This February marks ten years (an entire decade!) of “us.”  Ten years of blissful romance that feels like a fairy tale every day of our lives.  Wait, what?! Just kidding.  In all honesty, while we deeply loved one another this whole time, there have been days, sometimes weeks, that we really didn’t like one another.  Let us explain.

When we met, everything about our relationship came naturally.  Thoughts of each other filled our minds all day—every moment apart felt like an eternity.  There weren’t enough hours in the day to spend together and it seemed as if the other person had no faults.  We were young and in love.  We had a vision of how our relationship and life together would look like and nothing was going to get in our way.

30634_430721681997_5145053_n

And then things changed.  We were married young and a baby shortly followed. Bills had to be paid and diapers needed changing. We had a daughter who depended on us every hour of the day.  For the first time, things got difficult. For the first time, the person who could do no wrong could now do nothing right. Those butterflies had dulled and the overwhelming feelings and emotions had seemingly gone missing.

View More: http://athenapelton.pass.us/hitt-must-be-love    oy0a0756

Love came easy when our relationship started. When we were young our love was new and fresh, but then a few years down the road, there were times when we didn’t even like each other.  We both had moments of doubt and despair.  “Did we make a mistake committing the rest of our lives to one another? “, “Do we really love one another?”, “Is this going to be how it is forever?”

But this is when we had to choose each other again. When all was stripped away and we were at our weakest, we chose to work. We chose to serve one another and place each others needs ahead of our own.  There are days when we need to take our emotions and feelings and sort through them, because in the end, we chose this love. Regardless of how we feel in the moment, we know this love will overpower our current emotions. This kind of love is challenging and this kind of love takes work.

So, while we may not always like each other in moments of exhaustion, stress, or pressure that happens in our life with 3 young children, we know the kind of love that we actively choose to pour ourselves into is strong and will stand the test of time. We will persevere through the lows and triumph in the highs.  So this our love--10 years later--a chosen love, deeper love, a selfless love, a patient love, and a joyful love.

Contributed by Lauren & Mike

The Importance of Getting Away

My husband and I have been married for five years. Yes – I know it’s a baby marriage in the grand scheme of time, but the milestone felt significant. For us, it has meant new jobs, buying our first home, two (almost three) children, and countless times of learning and growth in how to be better for ourselves and one another.

Marriage, like any relationship, is not always easy. Yes – there are times full of joy and life. My husband is the one that can make me laugh the hardest, always has some comment to bring a smile to my face. Our kids light up when he walks through the door each night, and to hear their little feet run toward his open arms will never cease to light up my heart. However, there are also memories that I have that are marked with frustration. We are people and we fail. We make snide comments in the wrong tone, we forget how to act with charity, we are selfish, and we disagree – with big things, like how to raise our kids, or little things, like who is going to clean the bathroom. But, there is no other partner I would rather have in my life. Our marriage, some days my greatest challenge, is also my greatest success.

Every year, on our anniversary, my husband and I write in separate journals as a reflection on the past year as well as hopes and goals for the coming one. This was the first year that it truly felt we were on the same page when we shared what we had each written. Many of our reflections, and the hopes and goals for what lay ahead were similar.

One of the goals for this past year was to spend more time as a couple. I know this is probably a goal for many of us. And, if you are anything like us, we can push it aside for something that feels more pressing. But, we have come to realize, that this time should be sacred. Our relationship with one another is the foundation for our family, and it should be strong and healthy in order to build upward.

We started off the new year with a long trip with just the two of us – our first for this long without our kids. We went to Colorado for a few days over New Year’s. We spent time in the mountains hiking and snowshoeing. We lounged in coffee shops reading books, talking, and playing countless games of Cribbage. We were lazy about getting up in the morning and ate meals at what would be odd times (for our kids anyway). Our days had no schedule. Although it took us a day or two to get into just being us, the time together was priceless.

Your time away with your partner does not always have to include a plane ride, but the effort is what makes the time worth it. Maybe it could be an overnight downtown with breakfast at your favorite diner. Maybe you could come to a Blooma yoga class together and get a cup of coffee on your way home, just to make the time together a bit longer. Maybe you could go on a long walk through a neighborhood you don’t really know well, but have always wanted to familiarize yourself with. Think about it, talk about it with your partner, and really try to make it a priority in this fresh new year. For us, the time away together, to focus on one another and our relationship, helped us remember why we even decided to be in this marriage in the first place – we really like one another!

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

**Take some time with your partner and join us for Partner Yoga, February 18th in Minneapolis.