You’ve probably heard the song, “A Baby Changes Everything.” It’s so true. When my son was born, I distinctly remember wondering when I was supposed to shower, eat, or sleep. (Not necessarily in that order of priority!) My WHOLE LIFE was consumed with caring for this new tiny human who couldn’t (and still doesn’t, haha!) appreciate my incredible sacrifice. Not to mention the nearly 10 months and 9 hours of hard labor prior to his arrival…. Anyway. It’s safe to say my life changed 100% when he was born. Included in that life, of course, was my marriage.
Becky Thompson wrote an amazing blog post called, “To Wives: Before You Were Mommy.” In it, she describes my experience perfectly. I no longer turned to greet my sweet husband when he got home from a long day at work. Instead, if I greeted him at all, it was for the sole purpose of handing our screaming newborn over to him so I could collapse into bed before the nighttime feeding shift. Gone were the days of cooking dinner together, relaxing on the couch after work, or leisurely shopping together on the weekends. Date nights disappeared along with our savings account, because free time and money were spent buying or changing diapers. Early days of being a mommy…I look ok, right? I had no idea what I was doing or how to make the crying STOP.
Don’t get me wrong: this season didn’t last forever, THANK GOD! But… As life readjusted and we adapted to our new normal, it was difficult to see through the fog of motherhood and remember that I was still a wife—first. The all-consuming rawness of being a first-time mom had muddled the way I knew how to be a wife. They weren’t autonomous roles; but they also weren’t equally important anymore.
I wish I could say I recognized the misappropriated efforts immediately and fixed it right away.
It took years.
Years of being a mom. Years of trying to remember “who I was” before I was Mommy. Years of… Let’s be honest: tension, pettyness, arguing, struggles, and frustration. And after several years, (and another baby), it really is like I remembered. I remembered that it felt good to be a wife. It felt good to connect with my husband. It felt good to leave our kids once and a while and be adults and friends and enjoy each other’s company over a nice, quiet dinner. We talked about the kids too much (and we still do), but yall. I remembered. And I realized that I was a better mom when I remembered that I was his wife long before I was their mommy.
This realization didn’t erase the sleepless nights or diaper changes or the craziness that is motherhood in general. But it DID change my heart. And for the first time in a long time, I was sharing the load. Don’t get me wrong: my husband was and still is a HUGE contributor to our household chores and parenting. But when you forget that you were a wife before you were a mom, you find yourself feeling like you’re holding the weight of all of the parenting responsibilities alone. Your husband can seem like just another person who needs your attention. But when you wear your “wife hat” first, under your “Mommy hat,” a shift takes place in your perspective. Suddenly you’re in this thing together.
And it’s a gift. It’s a gift you give your children. Because they are important, yes, but they’re not MORE important than your marriage. And it’s a gift you promised your husband before God–to be his “lawfully wedded wife” – – – but it’s a gift you choose to give to him over and over again. And when you choose to remember to be a wife first, you’re giving your kids the gift of stability and unity and solidarity. It reestablishes authority and points, ultimately, to our Savior.
Obviously, there are other factors. Maybe your husband isn’t a believer. Maybe he doesn’t seem in this parenting thing with you. Maybe wearing the wife hat feels like more work than it’s worth. Momma, don’t give up. Keep your hope strong. You know you’re not alone–He’s always been with you every step of the way, and He’s not abandoning you now!
Maybe you’re not sure where to start, how to readjust the hats. Well, Becky Thompson also wrote an incredible book that I think will help you immensely. In fact, I think EVERY wife and mom should read this book. It’s called Love Unending, and I believe it will begin to change and challenge your perspective as soon as you read the foreword. It’s not earth-shattering, bank-depleting stuff: it’s the everyday stuff we forget. And Becky will remind you.