Chris and I have been married for nearly 11 years. We've been lucky: Despite the ups and downs all couples face, we're still very happy together. We have a beautiful preschooler and another baby on the way. And we built a life in Brooklyn, New York, that we absolutely love.
But here's the thing: In retrospect, I was a pretty crappy partner early on, at least compared to the partner I am today. We were 25 and 27, respectively, when we tied the knot and although I got some amazing marital advice from people I love, it would take years to learn how to put some of those words of wisdom into practice.
And then, eight years after we said "I Do," we had our first baby. He's three-years-old today, and I credit him with making me a better person in so many ways — including a better partner to his dad. Here's how:
I'm more patient. It takes my son at least an hour to eat a meal, 20 minutes to get dressed for school, and a good 15 minutes to walk down the street. If I spent the day snapping at him to hurry up, we'd all be miserable. So I've learned to go with the flow…and accept that certain things won’t happen quickly. Practicing that kind of patience with my kid all day has taught me to think differently; instead of annoying my super laid-back husband with the sense of urgency I used to have (always) I can now kick it into low gear with him sometimes.
I'm less selfish. As a mom, you sleep less, eat less, relax less…and it's all worth it. You learn to give of yourself in a way that you never knew existed before you had children. The hardest sacrifice for me has been sleeping less, followed by going out twice a month instead of five times a week. But focusing so much less on my own needs has opened me up to concentrating more on my child's needs — and my husband's, too.
I savor the little things. Who knew a walk down the street with my son could be the highlight of my day? It used to be that I needed a day of shopping or a fabulous night out with Chris to get that kind of rush. And you know what? I wouldn't go back to those old days for anything. Being able to get pleasure from small things is so much more gratifying…and easier to come by, too.
I'm more empathetic. My adventurous little boy gets lots of boo-boos, and sometimes those scraped knees are a big deal. Working to make Mason’s small hurts better has taught me a lot about the level of effort I need to put into issues that concern Chris. Now, if something is bothering my husband, I'm much more likely to sit and talk through it versus being dismissive or minimizing how he feels.
I'm much happier. My enchanting little boy has brought me exquisite happiness, which has undoubtedly carried over into my marriage. I’m more likely to focus on the good around me and less likely to sweat the small things.
I'm less messy. I've always said that I thrive in chaos, and I've never been great at containing clutter. Now that I have a preschooler (and a new baby coming soon) — both of whom come with piles and piles of their own clutter, and it's no longer just my clutter — I've forced myself to clean up my act. The result? Our lives are smoother and less stressful. Instead of arguing over whose turn it is to do the laundry or the dishes, Chris and I can enjoy more QT together.
I've finally learned to slow down. This is part of being more patient (see #1) and being more realistic, I think. I've finally realized that I don't have to accomplish every career goal by age 40, nor do I have to be perfect in any way. Now, instead of working 12 hours a day every day, I make time to play with my son and cuddle on the couch with my husband. And we're all living a better life for it.
How has being a mom made you a better partner?