I always cringe now when I hear someone on a TV show (or God forbid, real life) say something about how they want to have a baby so that it will bring their marriage back around.
Having a baby didn't really ruin my marriage, but it sure did change it. Greg and I had only been married for two months when I got pregnant. Heck, we had only been together for a YEAR AND A HALF total when I got pregnant. That's almost short enough to warrant a bad Katherine Heigl movie, no?
The changes to our relationship didn't wait to start until Veronica was born either. No, they started around the time that I began spending the afternoons into evenings lying in a miserable first trimester mess on the couch, moaning something about seasickness and then falling asleep mid-sentence.
This was the same couch that I used to lie on when Greg and I first moved into this apartment, when we were still starry-eyed with new love. I'd lie one couch and he on the other, and we'd gush over how in love with each other we were.
I'm not sure how long that really would have lasted, but surely a bit longer.
I'll pause here to say that this isn't a post about how I wish we hadn't had Veronica. You already know that's not the case. I can't even imagine a world without her, let alone my world. Rather, this is a post about how I miss what my marriage was before she was here, and how important it is to me to continue to cultivate a deep and sustaining relationship with my husband.
Anyone who has a child will tell you that their relationship has changed. There is no way around it. Where there was once two, there are now three (or four or five or six), and all of that energy that you had between the two of you is now concentrated somewhere else.
Being a parent is like trying to navigate a staircase with a pile of two by fours. The two of you don't have a minute to look at each other. You're so busy watching your footing and the bends in the staircase. You're struggling to maintain your strength, your hold, the balance of the thing between you. You are deftly connected, but also held apart.
The changes are immediate. The day she was born Veronica crashed down between the two of us like a meteor. My relationship with Greg suddenly became one of negotiations and schedules and discussions about who would take what task. We couldn't leave the room without letting the other one know. We also bickered where we never had before, and at the end of the day when she finally went to sleep we were both too tired and too overwhelmed to give anything else to each other.
Veronica went to Ohio yesterday with her grandparents for three days, leaving Greg and I alone in the house. It is our first time without her since she was born. And again, the changes have been immediate. We went out last night and slept late in each other's arms. We're going to a yoga class together later, and then to dinner and a movie, all the kinds of things we used to do. The best part is that none of it is scheduled or dependent on a babysitter or centered around Veronica's needs.
This morning I got in the shower without first telling him I was going to do so. Do you have any idea what a big deal that is?
When you have a kid you can't just get in the shower. You have to first make sure that the kid is okay, and then that the other person watching the kid is okay, and then even so, you hop in the shower and scrub up as fast as possible and by the time you get out someone is usually crying anyway (hopefully the kid).
And that's where the shift occurs. Where we were once two independent people, in love and appreciative of each other's own lives and schedules, we are now like one of those three-part Chinese dragon costumes, each one of us dependent on the other in order to just take one step forward.
Does it sound like I'm complaining? I'm not trying to. I'm just trying to explore the parenting relationship as it pertains to marriage. We have now been with Veronica for as long as were together without her, and soon that time we had just the two of us, will be long eclipsed, a tiny, distant memory filled with sweetness and naiveté.
Working on my marriage is one of my goals for the Good Enough Project. Before we had Veronica I didn't have to think about our relationship much. It existed and flourished on its own, but now it is something that requires nurturing and attention in order to function at a high level. And that's okay, I'm up for the challenge.
Greg was the one who suggested this mini-break from V. He brought it up one weekend over a month ago, right after I had a complete meltdown, worn thin from lack of sleep and personal time.
We should let my parents take Veronica for a few days, he said. It would be really good for us, he said.
I balked at first. And I even balked again yesterday. I think I could probably go my whole life without ever being away from her. But then I thought about me and Greg and how we need this. Veronica can only benefit from having two parents who are happy and in love with each other, right?
Having her and raising her together has been an incredible experience. In a million ways it has indeed brought us closer. There is no one in the world I can talk to about her like I can with Greg. We made something together, and she is beautiful and magical and so, so real.
But so are we.
Two of my favorite pictures from the first six months of our relationship: