Accepting a share of what’s there

We’re going to “unofficially” join in on the blog carnival theme that’s been going around, partially because it’s a great theme to read and write about, and partially because I have sheep tendencies, baaaaa. Admittedly, it’s a hard topic to write about when it appears that so many blogland relationships/marriages are experiencing a lot of trouble, sometimes to the point of being irreparable, while ours just…never felt in any sort of peril. But that’s all the more reason TO write about it, especially since there are other couples out there who are expecting and have been pretty scared by what they’re seeing/reading.

Our relationship is over 8 years old, and we were married in a ceremony over 5 years ago. I’m not sure when in that time we talked about splitting up responsibilities, household chores, finances etc, but we must have to get to this point, where it seems that we each have our own roles and things to take care of, and it’s come to a point where we’re so used to it, we almost take it for granted. Almost. There will never be a day when I don’t thank Nutella for making dinner, even though that’s her arena anyway. And she will always compliment my awesome grass-cutting or bathroom sink cleaning skills.

That just leads in to how we treat each other. We’re good to each other…supportive, loving, trusting. In the past 8 years, I have never not wanted to curl up next to her at the end of the night. It’s still usually the best part of my day (unless that day was REALLY good for whatever reason). We almost always check in with each other, and on the rare occasion we don’t, the non-sharer might get an earful about it. We are huge on communication and compromise. Peace-keepers, the two of us. This is not to say we never fight, but we both hate doing so and strive to get back to a place of calm and agreement. Just as we have no problems calling each other out on any bullshit, we’re also never too proud to offer a sincere apology.

I’m getting off-topic, sorry. If you haven’t been reading Vermillion for a while, you may not know that I did not necessarily see myself as the parent to a child (a chihuahua, yes, a child not so much). Nutella waited until I felt more ready and when we took the plunge and began the TTC journey, I made an oath to myself, and to Nutella, that I would be in it 100%. It was an easy thing to say, not knowing the half of it, but over 2 years later…well, over 3 if you count TTC and pregnancy, I do believe I’ve kept to my word. The equality and split of responsibilities we always had in our relationship continued as we navigated the waters of parenting our son together.

It hasn’t always been easy…first, taking care of a newborn then infant and now toddler, and secondly, learning how to do it together. In the early days, we dealt with pretty much no sleep for 3 full weeks, and then several nightly wake ups for weeks after. We would sob on each other’s shoulders in the wee hours of the morning because nothing would make him stop crying. He was a terrible breastfeeder and I committed the grave sin of suggesting we switch to formula more than once. I never felt “left out” though. Curly breastfeeding meant I had some lovely time to myself (usually filled with chores). When Nutella went back to work after her 12 weeks, I took the full 12 weeks FMLA so I could bond with our son even more. I found it really difficult because he was fairly high needs, but I was committed. The second Nutella walked in the door every day I would hand him to her, but she would gladly take him, having missed him all day. Things got easier the older he got, but there’s always something. It ain’t easy.

We have different ways of dealing with him. I have a shorter temper and am a firm disciplinarian (I sound like a drill sergeant!) but I tend to get way goofier and more much physical when playing with him, which he adores. Nutella is much more nurturing and creative. We make a very good team as long as we respect each other’s differences when dealing with him. Truthfully, not doing so has caused some bumps here and there, but nothing extreme. We have always fully trusted each other as caretakers to him, which allowed us to enjoy our time “off” as well. And that’s something else important that we give each other- the ability to continue to enjoy the things we did pre-child, such as happy hours, shopping trips, outings with friends or alone, etc. And of course, we employ babysitters at least twice a month so we can have couple time, with or without other friends. Those things didn’t really happen until he was over a year, but we realized we needed them to be happy.

I remember the first time we went out together, when he was a couple weeks old. We left him with a set of grandparents at our house while we went to a nearby restaurant, snacked on tortilla chips and sipped sangria. We said things like ‘Doesn’t this feel weird now?’ and ‘Oh my god, it’s so quiet and nice.’ We relished our time together and still do every single time we go out together. Nutella is my absolute favorite company hands-down.

I’ve written a lot and I don’t really know if I covered even half of it. I do know that we were lucky we got a good sleeper, as well as a happy and healthy child, and that makes a big difference. But what also makes a difference is that Nutella and I are a great fit. Not a perfect fit, I don’t think that exists, but a truly great one. We “get” each other and we know we’re both in this together, come what may. Becoming parents has changed us and our lives in many ways, but it hasn’t diminished our love for each other, not a bit.

18 responses to “Accepting a share of what’s there

  1. It’s nice to read a post about a positive post-baby relationship. Jen is my best friend and I cannot imagine my life without her. A lot of what you said I could probably copy and paste onto our blog!

  2. reproducinggenius

    I’m so glad you’re sharing your experience because there are *many* relationships that do not suffer when a child comes along. I’m so glad yours is one of those, especially considering the challenges you faced with the pregnancy, birth, and your boy’s early days. Maybe it does help that he’s a good sleeper, but I think you two also just seem to be really compatible and very, very healthy!

  3. This was lovely to read and gives me a lot of hope. Thank you.

  4. Love this post, and the perspective. I’ve often said that parenthood is one of the toughest tests out there….but the experience is made even better by a strong marriage. I have no doubt that Curly feels the strength of your relationship.

  5. This was a great post. It sounds like you two are a great match and work well together. I especially like that you respect the way the other parents Curly. (I also have a shorter temper and sound like a drill sergeant especially in the morning when I’m trying to get them out the door. LOL.)

  6. Thank you for sharing this. After reading all of the blogs of people that have split up post-baby, it’s refreshing to read about one that didn’t! Sounds like you both found your match!

  7. Me too. 😉

  8. Thank you for sharing! I think alex and i fall more along the lines of you and nutella…at least i hope 😉

  9. I love this post. Love it. Written incredibly realistic and it makes me stop and really appreciate my partner. Thanks!!!

  10. Yay! Happy families are fantastic 🙂

  11. Great post!! I think it’s important for folks to get a sense of the full range of experiences – sounds like you guys had a great foundation to start with and have done a great job managing the stresses that come along with parenting!

  12. Pingback: on relationships | Bao in the Oven

  13. i just got here from bao’s post and don’t know why you weren’t on my reader (seriously, i read your name so much – you’re pretty A-list in blogland). so, adding you now and very grateful to read this post because i’d be lying if i say i wasn’t getting a little nervous by some of the sad stuff going on out there.

  14. This is great! 🙂
    The sheep bleating made me laugh.

  15. Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to hear that in spite of all the challenges that come with raising kids, it is possible for a relationship with your partner to remain strong.

  16. I think that is really neat that you both got to have time off with Miles when he was little. I also like you are a sheep. Sheep and saying Baaa are big in this house.

  17. I love this! (And I am really jealous that you got a good sleeper). It’s so good to hear that in spite of the real difficulties, your relationship thrived through parenting.

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