Marriage in the First Year

In all of the things I have been reflecting on as this first year of Abigail’s life comes full-circle, my marriage with Scott is a big one.

I think about the last few hours of labor with AG, looking at my husband who was beside himself with worry and concern and love for me and our baby. The first couple of weeks where I couldn’t be more in love with him. The subsequent weeks when he returned to the working world and I hated him for it. The evening I collapsed into a puddle of tears and anxiety on the floor of our kitchen. The first evening Abigail slept for a respectable stretch in her crib and we were able to watch TV and eat dinner together, in our living room.

I remember our first weekend alone without the baby. How happy, how sad, how without anchor we both felt.

In truth, after about month four, my memories of my marriage as it tangles up with parenthood are a bit more muddled. I don’t know if that’s the result of sleep as much as it was the result of finding a new normal together. Smarter people than I will say it’s likely a little bit of both.

Not long after AG was born, I remember feeling incredibly aghast with people who had children to save or salve their marriages. Recognizing that we had a particularly rough go of it, I still couldn’t understand why anyone would ever contemplate bringing a helpless, non-contributing, barely functioning human being into a family where there was little to no foundation. What sort of assholes put that onto an unsuspecting baby?

Of course now I know that it’s never that simple. There are things about parenthood that even those of us who considered ourselves to be in strong unions couldn’t contemplate. There were so many moments I blamed Scott for any number of things. For a very long stretch I became impossible to live with – nothing was good enough, clean enough, organized enough.

Ask my husband how I feel about people who bring bottles to the upstairs bathroom without caps on them because OH MY GOD EVERYONE KNOWS YOU CAN’T FILL UP THE BOTTLE WARMER WITHOUT THE CAP WITH WHICH TO DISPENSE THE WATER INTO THE WARMER AND NO I CAN’T JUST KEEP A CUP UP THERE.


Oh the resentment I carried was ripe for a very big caption that read “FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS: INCOMING!”

I would say that we’ve always had a knack for communication; talking with each other was one of the things that brought us together. We fail at it at times like many couples encumbered with day-to-day nonsense, but we talk. Within those talks it was clear we had to change things, had to amend. I had to ask for help and trust Scott would deliver, even if it wasn’t how I’d do it, whatever “it” was. (I don’t remember now, of course.) Scott had to …well, I’ll let him share that because anything I write down here he’s likely to refute. Suffice it to say, we both had to bust out of our comfort zones, those little corners in which we’d retreat, because we’d found something bigger than ourselves:

Our family.

I’m not going to say that the only driver of our marriage is the common goal of sustaining a whole, happy, healthy family, but it’s the primary focus. Our shared interest in making our family work, or at least stay on track as much as possible, tethers us to making our marriage work in a way that nothing else has. Our love for Abigail is not the all of our relationship, but it’s quite the inspiration.

It’s made me care less if we have a few days of crap piled around. It’s made me care less if my house remains a work-in-progress. I still go batty about the fact that Scott seems patently unable to close his closet door every day – WHY? – but I’ve learned to just fight the battles that are worth fighting. Say, finding a way to have a date night, even if it’s just under our own roof, every week.

I enjoy watching Scott parent; it is one of the single biggest joys of my daily life. He loves Abigail and she loves him. He cares for her in a way I cannot, and I love that she reaps the benefits of two very different people who bring such different skill sets, talents and love to her life. It is OK that he is different. Were it not for those differences, we would never have the girl who is unafraid to climb the entire set of stairs from the downstairs to the upstairs, and has for at least two months. He helps her to trust herself, to be brave, to test life out, kick the tires on it. Oh that I could give her that, but that’s not how I’m built.

This is all to say that the father he is becoming is pretty hot stuff.

Not for nothing, but I appreciate the mother he’s helped me to become, the room he’s given me to find my own way. Never once, at all, has he ever criticized or questioned me unnecessarily. And by “unnecessarily” I mean there are always times where you ask the other person questions or discuss whether one way is the right way, but he does not pick at me or put me down or ask anything of me that he wouldn’t do himself tenfold. I am blessed to have someone with whom I enjoy parenting, and who is a partner.

I said recently that of all of the problems we have, parenting doesn’t seem to be one of them thus far. I hope we can say that in the years to come.

For Valentine’s Day, Scott made me a card “from Abigail,” and it was the most lovely, amazing, creative thing that anyone has ever done for me. It captures the spirit of AG, and of him, and at the end it wished me the best thing I could have heard from them both: “You Are The Best Mom! Love, Abigail.”

Our marriage looks different now than it did a year ago; it’s tested, it’s a little more worn, and it’s a little saggier in some places. (OK. Maybe that’s just my ass I’m talking about.) But it is cherished in a way, for qualities that didn’t exist before, that I could have never imagined.