I won’t lie… I literally started sobbing when I read this. It’s a very very difficult thing to feel unappreciated, unwanted, and unneeded. Thankfully I don’t actually feel those things… But sometimes your brain tricks you and you think you really do feel that way.
I have a beautiful, amazing, smart, strong and super funny child. He takes after his dad. My husband is beyond amazing. He’s supportive, uplifting, playful, and an amazing provider. Even when things have gotten pretty bad in the past (I’m talking bad BAD. Like, homeless and starving bad) I knew he would always be there. We would survive, our marriage would thrive, and he would still be there.
So why am I jealous of my son? Not because of the amazing person he is, nor the exceptionally amazing man he will become…but because of how his dad interacts with him. It sounds ridiculous, and it is. I should be jealous of the fact that he gets a nap every day, that he gets 12-14 hours of sleep every night, that the entirety of his responsibilities consist of telling mom when he wants milk or food if it’s not meal time, telling mom when he is all done eating, and drinking all the water in his water bottle. Everything else is up to me to help him with or through, or just simply nature.
Let me back track a bit.
I’ve mentioned Love Languages before. They are brilliant. Before my husband and I were married – right before, actually – we went through an awful rough patch and actually called off the wedding. But we stayed together. We went to counseling and learned each other’s Love Language. His is Words of Affirmation and mine is Quality Time and Touch. Basically, when I got angry and exploded he ALWAYS took it personally…whether it was about him or not. He feels most loved when I leave little notes and texts affirming how amazing I think he is. It greatly impacts him when I say something positive, or negative, about him in any way. For me, however, though words matter, I feel most loved when he is spending Quality Time with me and when he snuggles, hugs, holds my hand, or any form of physical affection. You can see where this is going…
My husband and I have always been extremely affectionate with each other. In fact, when we went through that rough patch (we never did have a wedding…we eloped) there were extremely toxic people in our lives that actually told Jeremy: “I think you just love her too much. It’s not normal to be that affectionate.” Wait…WHAT?! Anyway, that is one thing in nine years that has never changed. Except, it has.
It was not unheard of for my husband to come home, hold me for a good solid minute, and talk to me about our days. We would do things together, we would go places just to go, and we had conversations that didn’t always have to do with the house-stuff.
But, as is life, we had a baby and things changed. I entered the Stay At Home Mom realm of once-a-week showers, yoga pants, no makeup, and pizza for dinner (again). It started as “Damian is too young to be left with someone” of why we didn’t go on dates any more, then morphed into “Well, no one else has ever put him down,” and settled into the every-parent reason of “We have no money and I’m too tired.”
I spend all day with this little amazing human, and (though wonderful and something I’m eternally thankful for) I’m exhausted and drained when my husband gets home now. I just want a break. I want to be alone. I want to be able to work. I want to be able to shower. So in passing the parent torch every night at 5 o’clock I stay back and finish dinner or literally just zone out on Facebook.
The last few nights though, it was a bit of a slap in the face for me. We don’t snuggle any more. We rarely hold hands, and when he comes home it’s a very quick peck and maybe an awkward, momentary group hug because the baby is on someone’s hip poking at someone else’s face. We drown ourselves in our phones or computers or tablets, and IF we talk it’s quick and house-stuff. We haven’t been on a date in months, and even then it was a movie…no conversation, no engagement, just sitting in different chairs in front of a reallllllly big TV. We PAID for the same nightly scenario just with a louder, darker TV than the one we watch every night. But to make it worse, every night while I’m trying to decompress just a tad I hear my son giggling hysterically, then silence, then conversations, and then more giggles. My husband is playing with him, then snuggling and watching a show, then reading to him, then playing again.
I had this moment of unbelievable joy at the sight of this normal nightly ritual, while simultaneously trying not to sob. It is NEVER that I want him to be any less of an engaging, fantastic father…I just want my husband too. I want to feel like I matter just as much, or that I’m just as interesting.
How do you get it back? How do you keep the actual intimacy in your marriage? How do you share the intense draining of parenthood…and still have enough to give to your marriage at the end of the day?