We sat in a booth in a bustling Mexican restaurant when he spilled salsa on my hand not once but three times. We laughed about how awkward that would have been nearly ten years ago, when we first met.
But that night, we had sons sitting on each side of us, competing to see who could get more salsa on a chip, and a baby in a high chair, waving a floppy hand at the strangers two booths over.
I remember all the nights we sat in the soon-to-be nursery for our first son. As that little life grew inside of me, my husband and I would gravitate to this room, talking about the future, wondering—whether aloud or to ourselves—how parenting would change us, what we’d gain, and what we’d give up.
It has changed us.
Sometimes we pit ourselves against each other instead of remembering that we are on the same team. Sometimes months pass before we realize how much we’ve been prioritizing the kids over our relationship.
Sometimes we go days at a time soaping up with tear-free baby shampoo because we can’t remember to put grown-up soap in the shower.
We have given things up.
We’ve forgone the long, meandering drives we used to take on Sunday afternoons. We haven’t seen a movie outside of our living room in almost a year.
As our mountain of responsibility continues to grow, we long for the days of “24” marathons on wide open Saturdays—blinds drawn, hands held. We regret not taking a real honeymoon when we could have, because who’s going to change eight diapers a day in our stead while we skip away to Cancun?
Yes, we’ve changed. Yes, we’ve given things up.
But the better question—the other question that first came up in the nursery of our unborn son—is, what have we gained?
I remember Ryan following the doctor into the hall three separate times during our first childbirth experience because he was worried things weren’t going normally (granted, labor does get a little wacky) but he didn’t want to worry me.
I can feel the weight of his head on my chest when, after a long, discouraging labor, we found out it was finally time to deliver our baby. Those brief moments we shared—him with hope on his face and me with an oxygen mask on mine—will always be a part of me.
I think of our son’s first day of kindergarten, and how my typically unsentimental husband took the entire day off at the last second because he promised a nervous five-year-old that he’d be at the door waiting when school got out.
I think of how our oldest knelt beside his brand new baby sister, sleeping in her hospital bassinet, and stroked her forehead while whispering, “Hi, Baby Quinn,” over and over.
I think of all the nights when no matter how lifeless we feel after another long day, I start sharing the funny and heartwarming things the kids did that day, and we feel ourselves inflate again—fill with life from the lives we created.
Yes, we’ve changed. Yes, we’ve given things up. And when the kids have moved on to make lives of their own, maybe we’ll celebrate with a marathon weekend spent watching “24.”
But I have a feeling we’d be just as happy to thumb through pictures of when the kids were little. To get lost in what life was like when they didn’t need anyone but us.
Because I will never stop believing that someday, what we’ve gained is going to feel so much bigger than what we gave up.
Linked with On Your Heart and Works for Me Wednesday.
I’ve got tears in my eyes! You have an amazing way with words! XOX Thank you!
OH MY DEAR! You are such a wordsmith…you get it…and the best part is that you “get” it now. You know how precious it is when you are in the thick of it….
Thanks for putting it into such amazing words…
Katie @ Wonderfully Made
Absolutely beautiful, Erica. It is always a gift to read your posts and your perspective. Thank you for this gift today!
Ditto to the above comments. Thanks again!
Thanks so much, Katie!
I love the pictures as much as the post! It is so true, I think especially of time for yourself, but I need to keep reminding myself how important these moments are with him.
Thanks, Heather! The bottom picture was our family-of-five Easter selfie. I was pretty impressed we got everyone in it! 🙂 And I know what you mean – I think I can ALWAYS use the reminder to look for and appreciate the little moments that add up to make something really significant. You have a great day!
I think it can be so hard to focus on what I’ve gained sometimes. Recently I’ve been missing my husband like crazy, even though he hasn’t gone anywhere. Just that it would be nice to hang out as a couple instead of as parents sometimes, doing the things like we used to do. Thanks for the encouragement- sometimes I need to be reminded of my blessings because I have gained so much through motherhood.
Ohmygosh this is so beautiful. You captured it perfectly. Maybe this parenting thing doesn’t suck so much after all! Thanks for reminding me. I miss my old life, my old me, those newlywed and dating days so often that I forget to think about how awesome it is to raise a new little life and be their everything.
Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake
We’ve been thinking about this so much recently. Sometimes we talk about the things we’re looking forward to when our kids get older . . . no carseats to wrangle with, being able to stay up late and watch a movie without sacrificing sleep, a peaceful dinner. And occasionally I struggle with super negative and untrue thoughts like he’d be happier if he didn’t have the responsibility of a wife and children. We both have our moments of frustration and exhaustion, but he tells me that he has wanted to be a father since he was a little kid (kind of unusual for a guy, right?) and he was so eager to have a second baby. 😉 I’m loving motherhood more than I thought I possibly could, even with the sacrifices.
Love love love!!! My favorite so far 🙂
I read these and each and every one leaves me smiling. I think when we move back we need to find time, yes I’m laughing as I type that, to hang out more.
Hi Shannon! I would love that! I’m sorry I wasn’t good at finding time before you left! Thank you so much for reading. I love catching glimpses of your life and your thoughts on facebook. Definitely want to catch more *in person* once you’re back. 🙂
Beautifully written, Erica. You made me cry.