Marriage and parenting are two of life’s biggest commitments. Every girl is ‘expected’ to grow up, get married and have children. Every married couple sets their own timeline in terms of when they want to take the plunge and become parents. For some, that is sooner than later. There is no right or wrong time to have children. Whatever those timelines are, the reality is such that balancing marriage and parenting can feel like a constant struggle for many.
My younger son is 8 weeks old today. Raising a child is hard and has countless hurdles we need to cross, however raising two has its’ own challenges as well. How ever much you prepare yourself for motherhood, you never know what hit you until it actually rolls around. Being a new mother is terrifying and confusing, not knowing whether what you are doing is right or wrong. I remember receiving enormous amounts of information from my family and friends on what I should and should not be doing. I made my life more complicated by Googling every small doubt which more often than not, contradicted what I had already been told. But over a period of time I felt myself get clarity on the various do’s and don’ts of motherhood. I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
Photo credit: https://kristenwynns.wordpress.com/
My husband and I took a conscious decision to wait a few years before adding a child into the mix. Apart from not being even remotely ready to have another tiny human be 100% dependant on us, we also wanted to take the time to get to know each other again in a new setting. What do I mean by that? In India, the concept of living together before marriage is almost non-existent. I think most of you will agree that a relationship pre and post marriage is not the same. To be completely honest, some relationships change for the better and some for the worse. Getting to re-discover each other in the new environment and each other’s living habits takes time, energy and complete dedication and focus. I don’t believe that I would have been able to achieve that with a baby around so early on in our marriage. In short, we wanted to live life as only husband and wife for some time, and not as parents.
It is extremely easy to put your marriage on the back burner once a baby arrives, without even realising it. Many people believe that having children ruins a relationship. My view is that it definitely does slow things down a bit but it doesn’t knock you out. You can bounce back. It is a mother’s instinct to prioritize her child over everything else in her life; sometimes to the extent of letting the role of a parent take over her entire life. For some, being a parent becomes their main identity since taking care of a child is all-consuming. For me, my marriage has always come first. I am a proud mom of two healthy and happy boys who take up most of the space in my heart and head. They have a good amount of structure in their lives and are content children. But would they be happy and content if their family life at home was not? My first thought would be no, they would not be and it would have a profound impact on them. In most homes, the husband usually bears the brunt of an exhausted mother. I won’t lie by saying that I have never taken out my irritation towards my son, on my husband. In spite of there being multiple shared responsibilities between my husband and I, there are still moments where I am the only one who can provide my children with what they need. Occasionally, you need to walk away without saying what you really want to say, stemming from the irritation or situation with your child. Being a parent isn’t easy, and sometimes there is no point in bringing up some annoyances which could lead to dredging up other things, which in reality isn’t really bothering you at the moment. In other words, pick your battles. Having been married for 8 years now and 3 of those as a mother, I have learned that there are many ways to maintain the closeness in a marriage while being a parent. Date nights (try to talk about things other than your little ones), weekend getaways and spending some quality time with each other lying in bed and watching TV are only a few of the many ways to give your marriage some much deserved attention. I also make it a point to go out with my friends and WITHOUT my husband! Friends night is as important as date night. I strongly believe that space is key in any marriage and being glued to each other 24/7 is never the answer. The point is to re-discover who you were BEFORE you had children. If there are mothers out there who feel enormous guilt in putting your marriage and life ahead of your children, it’s OKAY! We need to keep reminding ourselves that happy parents make happy children, and happy parents come from a continuous nourishment of the marriage.
One of my all time favourite quotes is by Howard. W. Hunter, who said “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. There is a reason the quote says father and mother, and not husband and wife.