It’s 8:00 pm.
My husband and I have just successfully put our kids down to bed. We sink down next to each other on the couch and glance over at one another, almost as if we haven’t seen each other all day long. And in reality, we haven’t. That seems to be part of this season.
You know the one: when you’re outnumbered by kids and up to your ears in diapers, tantrums, and kindergarten reading times. When dinner is cooked for everyone but you two are the only ones who eat it, and by the time you get to, it’s cold. The beautiful, messy, hard season of raising littles.
And the piece of advice I have heard given so many times by seasoned parents and spouses to those of us who are still in the thick of it is this:
“Go back to the early days. Remember what it was like when it was just the two of you and you couldn’t get enough of each other. Go back to before.”
But… what if we didn’t have a before?
I had my oldest son at the age of nineteen. I was not married, in a relationship, or anything of the sort. So when I met my husband and we got married just over two years later, we walked into marriage and parenting all at once.
We didn’t get much of a honeymoon stage. It’s hard to have one when you’re focus keeps being drawn from doting on one another to caring for and raising up an active, toddler-age boy. Two more sweet boys followed. And we find that we can certainly get enough of each other because as any other mom knows, raising kids tends to show the gaps in between you and your spouse’s hearts. It’s not easy.
There were times I would read posts and articles about rekindling your marriage, about finding time for each other, and I would see that suggestion of going back to “before”. And I would just want to weep. Because I knew that I would never know what that “before” was like.
Now please know this: I would not change any aspect of my life and the way it all played out. I know that God orchestrated every bit of my life and the way the timeline fell into place, and He has given me immense, abounding joy in this beautiful life.
But I also don’t think it’s wrong to feel a little grief over how it doesn’t look the way you expected, or doesn’t feel the same way as everyone else. And the advice to remember the days before kids with your spouse is really good advice! It just doesn’t apply to everyone.
To the other moms out there who are where I am, I want you to know this. Just because you didn’t have the “before” does not mean that you can’t experience beauty and oneness in your marriage equally alongside those that do. I have found that God works all of our stories out, and He made such a delight out of mine. There are unique challenges that come from having kids before your marriage began, however that looked, but there are joys that are unique as well. Watching my husband walk into our marriage fully invested in being my son’s father was the most powerful testament to God’s goodness I have seen in my life. And while the challenges sometimes feel too heavy and hard, to not have them would mean I’d have missed that, and that’s not ever what I would want.
Be encouraged, mommas. We may not have had the “before”, but there can be immense joy in the right now, and even more in the days to come.