Trip to Oz
Nothing picks your world up and turns it on end like the first-born baby. Most of us feel like Dorothy when the tornado sucks her house up and plops it in the Land of Oz. All of a sudden you have NO IDEA what is going on, where you are, how you got there! All you know is that you landed in a place you have never been before. You strike out in search of the Great Oz to find your way back home.
The Munchkins & The Yellow Brick Road
Just like Dorothy followed the yellow brick road in search of the Great Oz, new parents set out to find something recognizable as normal life after their first-born. I remember that feeling. When I brought my son home from the hospital, it was a mixture of pure joy and absolute terror. And like Dorothy, I had NO IDEA of what I would encounter along the way.
First-Born: We Aren’t in Kansas Anymore
Nothing, I mean NOTHING prepares you for parenthood. It doesn’t matter how many times you babysat, or how great you are with kids. Those people GO HOME! A few days into the “trip” of trying to figure out this parenting thing, I began to wonder “When are the parents coming to get this kid!” (click to tweet) I say this as a joke, but, admittedly, it was a constant thought for months. I KNEW he was mine, but something in me could not wrap my head around the word “mother.”
First-born Babies alter more than just our individual identities. They also transport our marriages to strange lands and drop “houses” right on top of everything. Nothing is familiar anymore. Not only do you lose free time, but say goodbye to sleep, consistent showers, or regular mealtimes. And that alone time you had with your spouse, forget it! It becomes the scattered debris of the “baby tornado” that has uprooted your life. With our worlds completely thrown into the whirlwind named parenthood, how in the world are we supposed to make time for our wives and husbands?
Before the Munchkin
Before children, most women focus their “mothering” skills on their husband. Not to say that we treat them like children, but that we practice nurturing on them. They receive all the love and attention that we have to give. Now, with a baby in tow, we have to find a way to split that focus between our two loves. Sadly, many of us do not recognize the need to balance this out. The “they can wait” mentality settles in, or “ the helpless infant cannot fend for itself, but he can” instinct kicks into hyper-drive.
Women dial into the baby’s needs so deep that they neglect themselves and their husbands in the process. Neglect leads to trouble in the marriage. An article written in Women’s Health Magazine states that 67% of couples report a plummet in marriage satisfaction within the first year of a new baby. Although several articles identify multiple problem areas once the first-born arrives, a large part of that dissatisfaction for men is that we are not balancing motherhood and being a wife.
One of the hardest tasks to master for a new mom is the balancing act of baby and husband. How DO we Balance Marriage and Baby?
Click Three Times Dorothy!
GIVE EACH OTHER GRACE!
Your world has been completely changed, and you are in the process of finding a new norm. Being tired is perfectly acceptable! I repeat, being tired is perfectly acceptable.
ACCEPT THE REALITY!
You may not have realized the magnitude of changes that would happen, especially with the marriage. The change is unavoidable. Recognize and accept it, but do not beat yourself up about all the things you cannot do right now.
KEEP LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN!
Make a point to discuss the changes that are happening with each other. It may be difficult because let’s be honest, all you REALLY want to do is sleep when that free moment pops up. Also, remember to balance conversation about “baby.” Not everything you talk about should be child focused.
DON’T FORGET TO DATE!
Yep! I said it. I bet you want to punch me in the face right about now. Let me explain. Dating will look MUCH different for a while. The new baby takes up every inch of time that you both have, BUT, it is crucial that you still make time to be a wife. Intimacy and maintaining it after children may take more effort, but it is worth the effort. If you aren’t quite ready to call in a sitter, schedule at-home dates.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX!
Yep, we are going there. Many women struggle in this area because of body image, fear of painful intercourse, or just being plain “touched” out! Breastfeeding mommas produce a hormone cocktail that curtails libido. Can you say NOT FAIR? Whatever the reason, if you are not ready to resume sexual activities, IT IS OK! However, do not ignore the conversation. Talk about it with your spouse. Remember, intimacy is not all about sex.
YOU ARE STILL IN THERE!
It may seem like you have lost yourself, and for a time, you probably will. Being a new parent is like a labyrinth. You enter only to discover you have no idea how to get to the end. Each turn seems to present a new set of challenges. The good thing about a labyrinth is that is has an exit! You will are not lost forever.
There’s No Place Like Home
My mom used to say that once you had children, your life is not your own anymore. It is accurate to an extent, but it is not entirely the case, nor should it be. Babies may fundamentally change everything from finances to marriage, and everything in between, but we do make it to the end of the yellow brick road and back home.