parenthood and marriage: the trenches

I'm not going to elaborate on our anniversary trip, because although it was absolutely wonderful, It's something I'd like to keep between Ty and myself. But there are so many thoughts that I want to share, that I think, and hope, will help some other frazzled parents.

Leaving your kids at home and going off alone as a couple overnight for the first time is kind of like riding your first roller coaster. It looks and sounds really scary, and almost irresponsible. What if something happens? What if it breaks?  I think I'll just stay safe on the ground. But you eventually get on it, and ride it and oh! It is really scary and different, but then the ride is over and you look at each other and say, "let's go again!".

I can attest that if it hadn't been for Uncle Troy, we probably wouldn't leave the kids very much at all, maybe even ever.  But he bought us a room at a B&B before we had Abby, and we had to "go" because it was a gift. And oh, it was awesome, just one night away was perfect for us.  And since then we've gotten away before every baby, except rodney. but youre always pregnant! that doesnt count i think. But being alone for 3 days and not pregnant? Was really, the best thing for our marriage right now.

Ty and I hadn't been childless for 24hrs since 2008. I know there are some that have never left their kids at home, but for us, well, that was just way too darn long of a time.  Since bed rest with Phoebe in 2009, I have been home 24/7 pretty much with a napping baby. And 4 years is a really long time to be pregnant/nursing/home all day with napping babies. I didn't realize how tired and frazzled I had become until I left them.

How do I wrap this up nicely so you understand where I'm coming from? Parenting is HARD. I once heard it compared to the trenches in WWI, and I think it's pretty spot on. When you have your first child, together you both dig the trench, prepare for battle, stock up on ammunition and try your hardest to survive. "We can do this!" You both cry out. You are excited and nervous and you know that you are going to win.  And then something unexpected and challenging happens. Maybe because of your choices, but most of the time it's just something you have to go through. And when that hard thing happens,  you start battling it, but sometimes it can beat you down, and how.

Because, in parenthood I have realized that no matter how much you prepare, sometimes you just aren't prepared for what's coming next. And even when you are prepared, the battle keeps going for days and nights and days and months and years! And you get exhausted. I can see why many marriages don't make it these days, because I think it's even more difficult to be there for your spouse when things get hard.  Some trials are so difficult and unexpected you want to know "What about me?!" And you lose that perspective you had at your wedding day, to always take care of the other person first. Heaven forbid on one of those bad days, or weeks you read a blog post of some seemingly perfect marriage. I do NOT recommend doing that. It's pure death to my mental state.

Because Ty and I hadn't been alone enough, and on enough dates (because let's face it, communications is not his cup of tea), over the years we eventually ended up in different trenches. I am not a "present" person, buying things for myself or getting gifts from Ty doesn't make me feel loved. In fact, it just gives me buyer's remorse and guilt that can last for months. But spending time alone with him or my family and friends? Fills my cup.  I was always jealous of his time "alone" that he gets hunting, hiking and four-wheeling with his family and friends. He, on the other hand, has to work long hours outside, in the wet, cold, dry, HOT climate here. He doesn't get nap times or trips to the park or play dates with girlfriends where the kids' trash the host house and the mom's talk andtalkandtalkandatalk.  He has a hard job, and he has a time consuming and difficult (at times) calling in church.  He comes home with bleeding and cracked hands from pulling 2 miles of wire for the day, and his legs and back are sore. He's so tired most days he doesn't sit down until after dinner because he will fall asleep. No joke, that man can fall asleep in 1/2 second. So shovel full by shovel full, the trenches were dug, and it was me against him, with the kids suffering on the side.

Who got more naps on the weekend? Who gets to get a "break". Who works more on the house? Who helps out the kids? Who went out with their friends? Who has been happier? Who has been sick? At least in my mind, I felt like I was doing all the work by myself. And he felt like he was doing all the heavy lifting and I was sitting around eating bon bons all day waiting for his paycheck. And let's face it, taking care of little kids is a lot of work. I am exhausted most days by 7pm, but I just didn't see it. I thought for sure I was doing something wrong. Why am I always tired? Why am I depressed? Why can't I be happy around the kids all the time?  And then....we left those beautiful little buggers.

Oh happy, heavenly, wonderful day. Ty literally could see my shoulders stop drooping. I was happy, and smiling and laughing and had energy!  Of course I missed them like crazy and tried really hard not to think about them too much or I'd get sad. But most of the time? It was just wonderful to be alone with my husband.  I realized two things on the trip:

 1. My mind works a million miles a minute now. I seriously would love if they could do studies on women in college and how much their mind works and then years later as a stay at home mom of 4 kids. Because to me, it is light years apart. Every day, all day is about 8900 different things that have to be taken care of for other people. (and my kids aren't even involved in a ton of stuff!)  Being alone I found myself absolutely bored silly. I wasn't holding anyone, changing anyone, listening to 3 different people at once, talking on the phone, checking email, choreographing songs, paying bills and facebook all at the same time.  We really just spent a lot of time just sitting and looking at beautiful views. We would find a quiet spot, sit down and just be.

2. It was a nice surprise to realize that I still do really like Ty, I know you're thinking that sounds terrible. But honestly, most days I can get really irritated about stupid little things that don't even matter. Alone, together, we had such a wonderful time talking and laughing and being ourselves. I could see all the little things that he does for me during the day.  And it was nice to find out that "ourselves" still enjoy each other's company. And I got a teensy bit excited for when the last rascal leaves for college and we will have more "alone" time then ever. I know, I probably just jinxed myself and we'll be the duggars with 83 kids. But seriously, it's nice to still love your husband and know that the feeling is mutual. I mean, he even let me eat the last onion ring. Twu wove.

Our trench is still dug, but today Ty is sitting in it right next to me. And we are ready for whatever parenthood is going to throw at us next. But let me tell you what, even just being with the kids a few hours once we got home I was so tired of them! I know, again, it sounds horrible. But even Ty could see how draining they are on my mind and body. He and I realized I need to take better care of myself and we need more alone time together so that we can stay in this together.  Because that's the only way, together.  I don't know how we'd win the battle alone, and it can easily become very isolating when things are tough.  I think angels must constantly reside in single parent homes, it is just too hard. And as horribly tiring and difficult parenting is? Best thing that has ever happened to us. Our children bring us more happiness and joy than we have ever experienced or will experience. But don't think that that doesn't come with a price!

driving home in the Ghost.


Chandra said...

Couple vacations are the best! I'm so glad you got to go. Happy 10th!

Cathy said...

And this is why I look forward to Girls Camp. A three day, three night vacation with my husband. Sure, there are a bunch of teenage girls running around but I don't have to wipe their bums or cut the crust off their toast or refill their chocolate milk.

Katie said...

Loved this post. Especially the part about your mind in motherhood vs pre-kids. SO true. And I only have one. Yikes. Glad you guys got away!

Unknown said...

I loved reading this! My husband actually was amazed by this and showed it to me, knowing that I could SO relate. When I read this I couldn't believe it! Everything in here described ME in a much better way than I could ever say it. Thank you for your thoughts. Some of these things I would never tell someone else but hearing them from you, I now know that it's more normal than I thought. I am a Mormon, stay-at-home mommy of 5 with a husband in grad school and I babysit multiple (other)kids all day long. I would LOVE to get away on a vacation with just my hubby but he has a hard time leaving the kids so we don't. It was really nice that he is the one who wanted me to read this. I am hoping for a mini vacation soon ;) Thank you for your inspiration! - Jamie

Unknown said...

Raising a child is hard work, it takes dedication, and can be exhausting. It is also inspiring to have your husband in the trench with you!


angela michelle said...

Congrats on 10 years! I so agree about getting away. It's amazing to feel that weight lift. Looking forward to your next 10!

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