Kauai circa March of this year. See you again in three weeks baby.
If the age old question can you really have it all ever applied, I would say never more so than when it comes to marriage and babies. The inspiration behind this post comes from Jenni's blog, where she wrote about exactly this topic. And it got me thinking. Marriage and babies, babies and marriage. Yes, I have both, but the good Lord up in heaven knows I have no idea when it comes to managing both well.
So I'm not here to tell you how to "have it all." Because I fail at that every single day. I'm here to tell you my experience, my journey, and my struggles. I'm also pretty sure this post will go off on many different tangents, so stay with me if you can.
I've been married for eight point five years. I always said I would wait two years before having babies. Two years seemed perfect to me: enough time to have sexy alone time with the hubs, get to know each other more, live in newlywed bliss before adding the granted stress of tiny human beings to care for. Two years somehow turned into four years, and on March 1st, 2008 (only three hours short of being a leap year baby) Gunner James Smith came into our lives. Trust me, no matter what they say, adding a baby to the mix changes things. Drastically.
Exactly two years and two weeks later, Colt Daniel Le Smith arrived. Two boys. Our family of four was complete. We can dance into oblivion. Unicorns! Rainbows! Except not exactly. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to my kids? I am in love. I am over the moon to be a full-time mom to them. I think it's one of the most important jobs in the world (post on this to come later this week) but when it comes to juggling a husband and kids? Successfully? I still have yet to figure that one out.
But let me start with something I think is supremely important when it comes to this subject. And that is priority. Not only is it biblical, but every good therapist around will tell you that your spouse comes before your kids. Our counselor in particular said it was absolutely crucial for Rob and I to put each other first, and our kids second. And this? I have had a very hard time with. In my little mind, I tend to think that the kids come first, always. But with this thinking? Puts my husband on the back burner. When it was him to begin with that made our family happen. Because the truth is, by putting my husband first, I am setting an example for our kids, and showing them what a loving relationship looks like. Kids need to see their parents loving each other. Kids need to feel the security of their parents being there for them, and therefore, being a solid unit. I asked our marriage counselor one time if it damaged our children to see us fighting in front of them. Her answer surprised me, when she said "no. They need to see you guys have conflict and then see you resolve that conflict in a loving way, so they can learn how real relationships work."
And here's this: Rob comes home from working all day and immediately turns his attention on me. He will walk in the door and walk straight past the kids, go to me and hug, kiss, touch, etc. I would (and sometimes still do) get so mad him, and be all, "really? You walk past your own kids and don't even say anything to them? Don't even acknowledge them? What is wrong with you?" when what he is doing is exactly what it takes to have a successful marriage with kids. He is putting me first. Rob has always said to me that I come first, his kids come second. And my jerk reaction is to get angry, and go right into asking him stupid idiotic questions like "if Gunner and I were both dangling over a cliff and you could only save one of us, who would it be? Huh? Huh? Would you save him or me? You better say him!" (For the record, he would save our son.)
But here's the thing. Rob may come in the house after work and bypass the kids to head straight to me, but after that? His immediate second move is to pick up his boys, hug and kiss them and tell them both how much he missed them. And then to play with them for the next few hours before bedtime. I have never, not once, witnessed a time where his kids needed and or wanted him and he wasn't there. Rob is a sucker for his boys. Rob lives and breathes for his boys. He would die in a heartbeat for his boys.
But he would also die in a heartbeat for me. And this is where I can admit I can be a total bitch at times. With complete honesty, I can say I have neglected Rob. He puts me first yet I put the kids first. Rob constantly wants to be touching me (earmuffs mom and dad!), he constantly wants to be around me, messing with me, grabbing my butt and other parts (ahem!) and I get SO ANNOYED and tell him to just back off but gosh damn, I should be thankful that after almost eleven years and twenty pounds gained, my husband still wants me fierce! I've talked to enough people to realize that what I have in a husband is pretty rare. Because if he can love his kids half as much as he loves me? Well then. His kids are pretty damn lucky.
Don't get me wrong. My husband isn't perfect. He can piss me off with the best of them. Like when he criticizes the way I cut up onions, or when he says I'm being lazy for not getting up and working out (ok that one may be true) or when he uses my expensive hair conditioner as body soap (insert super angry face here!) but when you look at it as a whole, and consider the "war versus battle" thing, I'm pretty sure I'm coming out ahead.
Because my husband puts me first. And in turn, my kids benefit tremendously. And it has taken me a while (and a few hundred dollars worth of counseling sessions) to figure this one out.
Now if we want to talk about what babies do to a sex life?
That is a completely different post for another day.