We all know life changes when we have children. But how much?
My husband and I battle with this often, mostly because we were raised very differently.My husband came from the generation of “children are to be seen, not heard.” My mother, on the other hand, was all about sacrificing everything for your children—and she still is. I am definitely a mix of both schools of thought. I am my mother’s daughter, so when my son was born, my purpose in life changed. He needed me now and I had to be strong, healthy and there for him 24/7.
I remember a time we had a house party—not too many people, maybe 10 or 15. My son was probably five months old. My parents were also at the house. When 9 p.m. rolled around, I was trying to get our son to sleep. He was crying and fussy. The guests were loud—drinking, laughing and telling stories.
I began getting anxious. My husband became impatient with me, telling me to just leave him alone and he’d cry himself to sleep. My mom was in my ear that this wasn’t fair to my son and people needed to leave. That, or she was going to take him to her house to sleep.
I cried. My husband got angry. Our guests left.
Because this was early on in our parenting adventure, we both worked together to compromise and navigate the challenges we faced.
I tried to lighten up a little bit. If my son was up past his bedtime or had his bottle an hour later than planned, I tried hard not to lose it. I learned to become more flexible.
My husband compromised, too. He gained an appreciation for schedules and routines. He saw how much better things functioned in our household when my son followed a schedule for feedings and naps.
He was afraid that if we allowed my son to completely turn our world upside down, that we would lose ourselves in the process. I understood where my husband’s fear was coming from: My parents.
My parents are a pretty typical couple in their sixties: Married young, had children fast and lost all sense of personal identity. Now that they’re in their sixties, they find they don’t have much in common. They aren’t the same people they once were.
If you don’t take time for yourselves as a couple—to foster and nurture your love and connection—it can become lost over time. That’s not to say being a parent should take a backseat to your own personal desires, but I do believe there is a happy balance. My husband reminds me of this often and I think we’ve figured out what works for us.
We plan date nights at least twice a month. I am fortunate enough to know several very responsible young ladies that love babysitting our son. He enjoys having a playmate to spend time with him and do all those fun things that mommy is often too busy to do.
Regular date nights allow my husband and I time for uninterrupted conversation. We drink, we laugh, we kiss and we connect. This keeps us strong as a couple and makes us better parents to our son.
As wonderful as all this is, I haven’t completely rid my husband of his spontaneous ways. He is a risk-taker—much more than I am. He’s of the “act now, figure it out later” mindset. And while that’s all well and good to some extent, we have a child now and a child requires stability, security, and planning.
The biggest point of contention between us is my husband’s infatuation with owning a successful business. He is very dedicated and hardworking. He’s owned several businesses in the past, none of which have worked out exactly as he’d planned. I know he wants to prove to himself that he can succeed—and I know he can. He is very capable. But he’s also playing with our future from our finances to our retirement fund. It’s scary. We have a child to think about.
In three years we’ll be moving to the Florida Keys. I’ve researched the schools and they’re excellent. We’re minimalists, so We don’t need a huge home or property on the water: Just something nice enough for our little clan.
My husband will have a pension to help support us and I have an amazing job as a freelance writer, which offers flexibility in my schedule. I know my husband has thoughts of owning another business: A bait shop, a bar, a breakfast joint. And we’ve discussed why that may not be the best idea for our family.
I don’t want the responsibility. I don’t want the long hours, work on holidays and financial uncertainty. I want to be looking for a home equity line of credit and scholarships for our son, not discussing what to look for in a triple net lease. For me, owning a business has too many unknown variables. Taking risks and acting spontaneously isn’t practical when you have a child. Not unless you have a solid plan B.
I know my husband agrees. I would never dull the fire inside him. He is a passionate, dedicated and amazing man. He will work until he can no longer stand if it means making a better life for our family. I love him for all that he is and I envy his confidence. Because we are partners, he respects my apprehension and knows that owning a business in our next life might not be what’s best for our family as a whole.
Parenting means thinking outside of yourself: No longer being selfish or putting your own desires first. But parenting also comes with countless rewards that no business or career could ever replace.
Parenting is about compromise and sacrifice. But when you look into the eyes of your child and see the amazing human being you’ve created and know they are safe and secure because of you, no sacrifice seems too great.