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REAL TALK: Marriage after kiddos

Having my two boys has truly been one of God’s greatest blessings. Their giggles are amazing, their hugs are amazing, their first “I wuv’s you” are amazing. Watching them learn to talk, walk, and navigate the world has brought me so much joy. Each and every day I think that I can’t possibly love them any more, but then I wake up the next day and I do. Loving a person unconditionally took on a whole new meaning once I was called “mama.”

Owen and August - Fall 2018

But, with many things in life there’s this careful dance of balance. Isn’t it so ironic that the person who helps you bring these wonderful mini humans into the world, is the one person who may start to feel the most neglected or even distant? I mean before children your partner is the center of your world. Everything up until that point has truly been about them, and when God blesses you with children it begins to not be about yourself or your partner, but this beautiful little human you made together.

Matt and I’s initiation into parenthood wasn’t the “typical” journey as many of you know. We had a surprise emergency c-section, a 3 lb. 14 oz. baby boy, and a three week NICU stay. For brand new parents to say that this was overwhelming is an understatement. We immediately went into “survival mode.” Long nights, long days, and endless doctor’s appointments.

Matt and Owen during our NICU stay.

We managed. We were really good about dividing and conquering. But, we weren’t great about doing all those “hard” things together. We recognized that we both needed to sleep and work, and that life goes on, but to what cost? I felt like we began to stay in more, because it was just easier than having to pack a very small and at times vulnerable baby and bring him out into the world. It became isolating. I’m sure there’s extroverted readers out there, who can relate :)

Eventually, what I’m going to call “my crash” happened and we really needed to start taking a look at what and how we were parenting and how we were nourishing our relationship. One of the words that I think comes easily with parenting is, sacrifice. I think sacrifice is necessary, but I don’t think that our Lord ever wants us to sacrifice what brought these beautiful little humans into the world.

I wanted to be able to do it all. I wanted the job, the family, the know the “American dream.” But, what I never wanted to do was admit to Matt that I was exhausted, anxious (most of the time), and feeling completely isolated and depressed. But, once I stripped down all of my pride and shared with him how I was really feeling things began to change. We recognized that for over a year, our lives were catapulted into unknown territory and instead of being intentional, we had become reactionary (many times it was necessary).

Soon after some of those tough conversations, we hired a babysitter once a week to come in and we would go to dinner. Sometimes it was fast food and we would end up driving around (looking for a new house). Sometimes we would go for a walk. It really didn’t matter. We just got out of the house together without Owen for a little time to reconnect. We also changed our daycare provider. At the time we had an extremely early pickup (4:30 p.m) and we decided we needed to start giving ourselves a little more grace and margin in our day.

We began taking family afternoon trips on the weekend (many times in-between naps), but it didn’t matter. We just made an effort to get out of the house more. Shortly after we began to make these intentional changes, we found out we were pregnant with our second baby and I was overjoyed to know that we were welcoming another baby into the world. Six month earlier, I don’t know if I would have had the same emotions. I think I would have felt scared that things were just going to get worse.

Now, being a family of four we still do a lot of divide and conquer. Many times it feels like we’re tag teaming one-on-one with the boys who are now (four and two). And do we still struggle to get enough time alone, of course? Are we still exhausted, yes. We still have the endless doctor’s appointments, days off of daycare coverage, preschool programs, etc. You know, real parenting.

Do we need to be intentional about spending time together? Yes. It’s easy to start to feel like roommates after the kids go to bed, because you just want two minutes to yourself. Two minutes to decompress and watch some mindless TV. Some nights that’s exactly what we do. But, we’ve also made some intentional choices of how to stay connected that works for us.

- At home date nights: on one of the weekend evenings we have the boys have a “boys dinner” and Matt and I wait until the kiddos are asleep and we make an “adult” meal. Fresh seafood, steak, yummy cocktails, delectable desserts. We eat uninterrupted. It’s glorious.

- We find a show that we can binge together. A few nights a week after the boys go to bed we know that we have a date with Amazon Prime. We’re almost done with our current show, so if anyone has any ideas please let us know.

- We’re building a community close to us. We’ve connected with our neighbors and spend a lot more time outside being able to chat with our friends while the kiddos play.

- And hey, we both need to shower ;)

I really wanted to share today about marriage, because I think it’s such an important subject that sometimes gets lost. People always ask “how are the kids,” but it’s rare that we ask about marriage, which I understand. People don’t want to feel like they are overstepping and getting into someone else’s business. But, maybe today, you can ask yourself how’s your marriage? Is it where you want it to be? Is there something that you feel needs to change?

Marriage is something that is work and I think it’s even more work once you bring children into the mix. But, if you can try to think of what brought you together in the first place and hold onto it like your life depends on it. Because at some point, these amazing kiddos are going to be move out and start building a life outside your home and it’s going to just be the two of you

Matt and Jenna - 2003 - When it all began :)


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