I remember before we had kids, my husband and I would spend hours talking and laughing. We consulted each other about everything—big things and little things. I loved hearing his opinions, even when they didn’t mirror my own. We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, even we were just sitting in silence.
Then we became parents, and the past six years have been a blur of responsibility and exhaustion. Parenting young children doesn’t allow for hours of deep thought or intriguing conversations with your spouse. You’re lucky if you can get more than a few sentences out before you’re interrupted for one reason or another.
When your constant focus is your kids, there isn’t much time left for each other. Raising babies can be stressful, and it definitely takes its toll on your marriage, because kids need so much. They need our time, our attention, our energy, and our patience.
As parents, we are natural givers, but there’s only so much a person can give. By the end of the day, you don’t have much left. You’ve helped with homework, “watched this” more times that you can count, and mentally organized a list of things that must be done for the next day. Throw in laundry, bills, groceries, and a few sporting events, and you’re dead on your feet before bedtime.
This is where things get tricky because you want to spend time with your spouse, but you have to make a choice. Do you stay up, using the last bit of energy you have, or do you climb into bed, rest your body, and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow.
For both my husband and I, rest wins nine times out of 10, not because we don’t love each other, but because we desperately need sleep. So, we settle for lying next to each other in dreamland. Often times even that’s interrupted by a sleepwalking toddler or a 4-year-old who had a nightmare and refused to return to his own bed.
Before we knew it, years had passed while we were in the grips of this exhausting routine.
But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, I suppose this isn’t anywhere near the end of the tunnel, as far as parenting is concerned, but I see a light nonetheless. As our kids have grown from babies, to toddlers, to young children, so has their independence. Their attention spans have greatly improved. They play for longer stretches, content in their world of dirt and make-believe and require less supervision.
Recently, my husband and I have found ourselves enjoying conversations again. We’ve actually had time to talk without constant interruptions. Our kids don’t need us as much as they once did, and while there’s a bittersweet element to this revelation, it’s a welcome change of pace in our marriage. It’s not like our kids are moving out anytime soon, but you would be amazed how much time is freed-up when your kids can wipe their own butts, and pour a cup of juice. It’s truly the little things that make all the difference in the world.
I have time again. We have time again. To breathe, to rest, and to sit and enjoy the company of one another. We aren’t as stressed out or overly tired. Our patience isn’t running on fumes, and we are able to connect. It’s just as easy and enjoyable as it once was.
Our kids aren’t yet to the age of non-stop activities and sporting events, so maybe this is just the calm before the storm. Maybe, we are merely resting in the sweet spot of parenthood. Whatever it is, and however long it lasts, I’m embracing it with open arms.