If you ask me what the hardest year of my marriage has been, I wouldn’t even have to think: it was the first year we were parents.
My husband and I have been together ten years, married for five. We’ve had those good times and bad. We’ve helped each other through miserable jobs, multiple moves and a fairly significant bout of mental illness. But connecting was always easy. We were always on the same page.
Until my son was born.
Suddenly, I felt sort of alone. It was impossible for us to be on the same page, because I was the one with the lactating breasts. I was the one with the ferocious protecting instincts. I was the one who couldn’t stand to let him cry for even one second. I essentially didn’t let my husband do anything. And when he did want to help, he didn’t do anything right (read: the way I did it).
This sounds harsh, I know. As I’ve written about previously, I have since realized that I was suffering pretty dramatically from a postpartum mood disorder. And I think that really caused most of our frustration.
Suddenly, my husband was not my main focus. In fact, we had trouble even sharing an uninterrupted conversation. We were also living with my parents and co-sleeping, so don’t even get me started on what our sex life was like.
But at some point, and it was definitely not all at once, I realized he was my co-parent. He truly is my partner. My son was still very mom-centered, but I could send the two of them out to the store. I could share in the joy and the heartache and the frustration of parenting.
Was I ever miserable in the marriage? No. Did I even for a second entertain the thought that I would be better off without him? No. Was I frequently annoyed? Yes! Was I frequently annoying? Absolutely!
Why am I telling you this? Because I’m sure I’m not the only one!
My husband is a great father. He’s seen me at my best and at my worst. He’s always met me where I’m at and accepted me and offered me help when I needed it.
Parenting our second child together has been a dream. Perhaps it’s because we’ve done this before. Perhaps it’s because my daughter seems to have bonded to us equally. Perhaps it’s because I’m on antidepressants which helped me avoid postpartum mood problems.
So if you’re annoyed with your co-parent. Take a breath. Relax. You’re not alone and it doesn’t have to mean awful things for your marriage. In fact, it’s very likely going to be a great adventure the two of you can share.
Olivia Hinebaugh is a stay-at-home-mom to a three-year-old boy and baby girl. She writes young adult novels and steals time whenever both kids are sleeping to clack away at the keys. She tweets about mothering and writing @OliveJuiceLots
Photos by Lauren Preti.