When we found out that we were pregnant with my son (now 4), my husband and I became one of those "new parent" couples. We researched together, shopped together and made every choice surrounding the arrival of our new baby together. I’m talking right on down to the discussion of which wipes would represent the Thompson household. We went with Pampers if you were wondering. If there was an amazing-race-like-show that somehow incorporated preparing for a new baby, we would have been all over that. We were a team.
To greater prepare ourselves for baby boy’s arrival, we even took one of those courses for new parents offered by the hospital.
The class and the instructor couldn’t have met our expectations any more perfectly. The sweet gal who led the class was sprightly, informative and gave entirely too detailed descriptions of her own deliveries. (Say that three times fast.) After learning everything from diaper changes to natural labor techniques, our 8 week course ended with a certificate and a tour of labor and delivery. We were prepared to become parents. We had the copied paper and our names written in sharpie to prove it.
But what wasn’t covered in that course, what would have been infinitely more valuable than any one bit of information we received in those few weeks, would have been the offering of a few simple words.
If only our instructor had sat us down and said, "Ladies, before you were Mommy, you were his. Men, before you were Daddy, you were hers. Remember this. Hold on to this. Keep these words precious to you."
I wouldn’t have understood her. I might not have even understood her a few months later. But four years down the road, I would replay those words over and over in my heart, and I would know exactly what she had meant.
So if I could teach that class, if I could go back and instruct the bright-faced, greatly pregnant women and their overly eager husbands, I would say this:
Ladies, there will come a day when your husband walks in the door and you do not turn around. You will be preoccupied with filling up sippy cups and wiping booties. You will shout over the running bath water, “Hey! Glad you’re home.” But it won’t mean what it used to mean. It won’t be full of eager anticipation to spend time together. It will be full of expectations to aid in the demands of the family. “Glad you’re home,” will more properly translate, “Thank goodness for two extra hands to help me.” And “Praise the Lord I might get five minutes alone.”
Ladies, there will come a day when you spend every last ounce of yourselves on your children. The demands of life and the babies will come before any other priority. What little of yourself you have left at the end of the day will be used to crawl into bed before someone is awake to need you again. The thought of doing anything else after the children are asleep will sound impossible and your handsome husband’s happy smile had better mean he is willing to get up with the baby and nothing more.
The husband that once completed your heart will be just one more person who needs you. The charming things that you fell for will go unnoticed. The daily grind will become expected.
Men, there will come a time when that beautiful bride sitting next to you hasn’t showered in days. She will be at her wit’s end wearing other people’s food and poop on her clothing. She will need to hear that she is beautiful, but she won’t listen to you. She will need to know that she is still lovable, but she won’t want you near her. When you arrive home after meeting the demands of work, you will be expected to meet the demands of your family. Your wife will hear none of your exhaustion, and you will see none of hers.
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