Ten years ago when we started a courtship (is that a word anymore?) we were very young, wild and free. When I think back to those early years, fresh out of college, renting an apartment, living among piecemeal furniture and hand-me-downs, going out late regardless of the day of the week, making time for friends, eating grilled cheese and burning meals… I smile. It was a chapter in our lives that I can only describe as fun and carefree. Many days, I miss it. Many days, I look in the mirror and miss her and even miss him. We were different then. It was pre-career demands, pre-mortgage and bills, pre-who will handle our health insurance, pre-should we stain the deck this year, pre-what the hell is for dinner tonight and pre-who is on the next shift with a teething baby. Pre- all the stresses of “real adulthood” moments that seem to magnify when you start a family.
But, we always knew we wanted a family. He more than I most times. I went through a phase of, “I am a career girl.” I could not fathom how the two could mesh, a family and career (honestly, some days I still don’t understand). It was always he who pushed for a family, and he who patiently waited for it to finally happen.
The day the pregnancy test showed a positive sign, I cried. And, it was not happy tears. It was scared shitless, panic, omg how did this happen so fast tears. I hate to admit it but I went through a wave of emotions because I was so certain I was not ready. What had I done? What had we done? Will everything change?
Well everything did change.
There will be no sugarcoating here. Things changed even while Lo was growing inside me. Immediately, we began caring about someone other than ourselves and each other. Once Lo arrived, our little home was picked up, flipped upside down, twirled as if a giant held us within his palm and placed us back down.
Things were not easy. Some days it felt as if we were pushing each other a part while trying to fight to stay on the same page. It was a huge adjustment. Trying to live the same life, while managing the same stress, all while caring for a new person. Whew!
What I have learned over the past year, as a new parent, is that the foundation of parenthood is our marriage. And, even past that, through having a baby, marriage is really all about teamwork and partnership.
Tonight, as I was bathing Lo, it hit me. While some days he frustrates the living hell out of me and some days I whine that he just doesn’t get it, in reality he is the best teammate I could have asked for.
During the workweek, he picks-up Lo from the babysitter (AKA MiMi, AKA my mother) which allows me to work longer hours these days. By the time I arrive home he is prepping her dinner, which allows me to get in a few snuggles before I can start our dinner while he feeds her in her highchair. Once she is done eating either we trade off dinner prep while one or the other cleans-up and entertains Lo, before sitting down and eating together. I typically do bath duty next, while he does the dishes (he also reminds me daily of this). Once Lo is out of her bath and I am dressing her, he is usually a step behind with blanket, bottle and binkie and kisses while I move on to bedtime routine. Some nights I come out to him lazy on the couch and I want to scream because I just wrestled an alligator to sleep but most nights, actually a majority of nights, I come out to the kitchen cleaned up and I am free to pour a glass of wine and blog. 🙂 Thank you, dear hubby!
Then it is just a musical chairs of alternating turns caring for Lo until she finally falls asleep. Looking at each other while she screams from her bedroom, reassuring each other it is okay for her to cry another minute or two and then giving the nod when one says, “I will get her.”
I could go through the same routine for our mornings. Now through the night, well, Daddy could do some work. Ha!
But, my point is even when we are both so frustrated from a bad day at work, family drama, long commutes, whatever it may be, when we get home and are together, we tend to be a well-oiled machine. We can be screaming mad, throwing fighting words or just holding grudges and mildly speaking and we work together to care for Lo, our home and each other like we have the same brain. It is scary. It is teamwork. A true love in partnership.
And, it is far from perfect! Dear God knows our struggles. Some days we downright suck at being married to each other. Believe me. Although, the last 14 months I have learned so much about him and our marriage and his commitment to our marriage and our team. Just like players out on the field, all working together for one common goal, the win, so are we, together, play-by-play, in tandem.
So, back to ten years ago, when I think of us… he missing the gray on the side of his hairline and I definitely missing the signs of wear in the form of wrinkles around my eyes and forehead. Honestly, ten year ago Ashli and Nathan were thin and super tan. Well at least that is how I envision us dammit. Yes, we were carefree. Yes, we were balls of energy. Yes, we flew by the seats of our pants and were spontaneous, and yes, I miss those two young cats from time to time. Although, while we were fun we were also selfish. And, while we lived under the same roof and managed many of the same things we do today, we still roamed through life on our own schedules and with our own cares.
This team we have now, developed as we added players. 🙂 I know, cute huh?
One thing those two young, tan souls don’t or will ever have on these two, tired partners is the underlying care, understanding and love for each other that came with becoming a family. For that, for him, for Lo. I am so thankful for.