Marriage can be hard in the best of circumstances and without kids. Kids will absolutely ruin the marriage you once had. And yet we keeping sticking around and asking for more. What the hell is the matter with us?
“Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you’d never want to.”
– Rainbow Rowell, Landline
It’s like this cruel joke that this person you once felt your most intriguing, alluring, and sexy with now has seen you at your most vulnerable and your most angry and your most unlikable. Why? Kids.
My husband and I are celebrating 7 years of marriage together. This is our love story. It’s a really good one, if I do say so myself.
We’ve now got a couple 4-year-olds and the life we once knew is over.
We could once binge watch adult shows OR GO TO THE MOVIES for hours, days, weekends without a care in the world except pausing for bathroom breaks, smokes and grabbing food. Now, it’s let’s watch this episode of Bubble Guppies for the 18th time in two days but stop it 14 times in the middle because one kid has to poop (“WHO WANTS TO WIPE MY BOTTOM?”) and the other kid has to go upstairs to find his “mim mim” which are really called Tsum Tsums and then we can finally turn it back on only for it to end exactly one minute later.
We could once dine out at fancy restaurants without a care in the world about the cost or the time and even order a second glass of wine or beer (for the husband). Now, we have to find a babysitter (we only have 3), book them weeks in advance, make sure the reservation is no later than 7pm or else we will starve and fall asleep at the same time (not a pretty picture) and then struggle to find things to talk about that don’t go back to these terrible kids of ours.
We could once take off for a weekend without planning too much in advance. Now, we have to plan a year out, get the entire house vacuum packed into suitcases and bring 8,483 snacks, drinks, lambys, pillows, jackets, blankets, carseats, strollers, sunblock, sunglasses, sandtoys, car toys, house toys, bath toys, shoes shoes shoes, and make sure you time it exactly around when they wake up but be sure that nap time is covered too because we all know what happens when nap time is messed with and have we even talked about security lines at the airport yet because nobody would ever have kids if they knew the brutality of trying to occupy kids and make them stay in one place for any amount of time.
We could once sleep in and luxuriously drink coffee, read a newspaper, get breakfast, watch CBS Sunday Morning and that would get you to noon on a weekend. Now, it’s hearing “MAMA WE HAVE TO GO POOP” at 6:30 and you’re up there in your robe half open with smudged glasses and trying to focus so you don’t fall down or miss the wipe and your husband is off at the grocery store buying all the best food for them and crap for us and you are so thankful he does the grocery shopping that you don’t even mind getting up that early because you can’t sleep past 6am anymore anyway.
We could once buy things for ourselves. Books, movies, food, concerts. Now, it’s WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES and they need clothes and food and preschool (HOW DARE THEY) and childcare and a roof over their heads and EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE.
We could once hang. Now, we’ve literally forgotten what hanging feels like. There’s always something that needs to be done, gotten, fixed, or tended to in our down time. And when it’s really down time, it is DOWN TIME. Like, only bother me if you are in need of a transfusion down. We are checked out.
But after all is said and done, there aren’t too many among us that would go back in time to when life was simpler and more carefree. Because we wouldn’t have these terrible monsters that dictate so much of our lives. The original goal of marriage was to mate and have a family together – to procreate and populate the earth – well, we’ve more than got that covered now, right? We should have as much fun as we possibly can while we are at it, too, right?
But seriously, don’t have kids if you want the marriage you once had.
I love my husband. As much as we fight and bicker and hold back our tongues when we so desperately want to say, “I TOLD YOU SO”, we don’t. Because marriage is hard sometimes. But mostly it’s about being with somebody who knows you better than anybody else and that you wouldn’t want to experience the high highs and the low lows without. It’s about feeling as safe as you can without taking them for granted.
On nights when bedtime is particularly difficult, when you walk back in and your girl says, “I’m sorry for being a bad girl mama. I yuv you. I yuv your heart” uninitiated, well, that is maybe my favorite thing that’s ever happened. And you run downstairs with tears in your eyes and tell your partner, your mate, your love, your other half who is half of these incredible kids that you are so gd crazy about, you don’t even care about the fact that all they ate was cake and watermelon that day.
All is forgiven. All is reset. Imagine who needs this grace today. We both do. We both need to continually grant each other grace because parenting and keeping up a good marriage can be hard.
Nobody knows your family like your partner. The funny shit, the sad shit, the shit shit. Nobody knows it like him. And that’s why when you are apart – even on different levels of the house – you text each other funny pictures or stories about your kids because they are stupidly awesome. And so is your marriage.
Don’t worry about making it all sexy and romantic again. If you’re making each other laugh, you’ve got more than most. That right there is romantic if you ask me. If you have fun together and at the end of the day, he’s the one you want to see walk in the door, it’s all good. Kids grow up, and hopefully we do too. We – gods willing – have plenty of time to get back to me and you after these kids grow up a bit. Right now it’s about all of us. Soon enough it will be back to us and we will miss this time. So let’s just keep enjoying where we are right now.
Kids will absolutely ruin the marriage you once had. And yet, we had kids. And these kids have changed our marriage in ways that on paper, seem to really suck. But in most of the important, really profound ways, they’ve led us to new territory and given us a chance to become better people. We can’t just act like jerks all the time now because they are watching. We want kind kids = we need to be kind to each other.
I was showing wedding pictures to the kids and they could not understand how in the world they were not at this big party where we dressed up and had cake and said HAPPY LOVE DAY! They were all sad that we didn’t let them attend. And Nikki. They’re seriously angry that Nikki didn’t get to come. However, they CANNOT stop squealing about my red sparkly shoes, so that’s something.
I never knew my parents before they had kids. I mean, they were always my parents. We came along and ruined the marriage they once had. AND THEY LIKED IT.
This marriage with kids has brought us to places that we never would have gotten to without them. The decisions we’ve made, the places we’ve gone, the kids shows we’ve endured. We’ve seen the best in each other because of these kids. They make me love him more. They make me believe we are capable of so much more than we ever imagined, because we keep proving that every single day. I mean, who the hell do we think we are?
Kids will suck you dry and just when you think you can’t give any more, your partner is there to give you a great big hug and words of encouragement. If you’re really lucky, they have something delicious you can eat and you can just get horizontal and have a good binge watch. And by binge watch I mean, MAYBE make it all the way through one episode of a show before falling asleep. Together.
I love you, husband. Happy Anniversary. Thank you for ruining our marriage along with me. I couldn’t be any happier to be in such a terrible, awful, joyless marriage than I am today with you.