Kids change everything, and nothing is safe—not your social life, your sanity or most of all your carpet. But it’s cool because, you know, you love your little maniacs more than life (and you actually hated that carpet anyway).
Part of everything changing includes your fairy tale marriage to the man of your dreams who could do no wrong—”wait, who?” you’re asking. Oh, you know, that perfect guy you married many moons ago and procreated with who now sometimes makes you want to pull all your hair out – yes, even the non-grey ones – when you clash over parenting decisions (or just when you’re pregnant. Husband pregnancy wrath is truly a wrath unlike any other, because #hormones. And because he’s probably wrong. But mostly #hormones.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband unconditionally – but let’s be honest, no one wants to read about that (not even my husband). Instead let us unite in motherhood by dissecting the surprising changes that happened to our relationships once we popped out a kid or two. Every couple is different and fights their own proverbial battles, but these are just a few from my personal, dysfunctional list.
1. One of your biggest recurring fights will be over the family dog.
Surprising, but very, very accurate. Okay, so *maybe* it was you who purchased the dog while your then-boyfriend was out of town at a bachelor party because you were annoyed that he left you alone (and you were also annoyed that he hadn’t proposed yet, so you rationally decided getting a dog would force him to commit. We’ve all pulled that age old stunt! Am I right, ladies? …Ladies?) Even though YOU technically made the purchase, that doesn’t mean you can’t reserve the right to change your mind (this is 21st century America, people), ESPECIALLY after you now have actual human babies to take care of instead of just fur babies.
The feeding it, the bathing it, the giving it attention, the disciplining it, the cleaning up after it, the loving it, the making sure it stays alive—I’m already doing all of that for my toddler, and I’m expected to do double-duty for the dog, too? It’s exhausting, and that’s not even counting the 85% of my life I spend vacuuming up absurd amounts of dog hair.
So naturally, I approach my husband approximately one to three times a week asking to give the dog away—specifically asking to send her to “the farm.” Which I have no idea where that is but I always paint a super picturesque scene by saying she’ll have “room to roam” and sometimes for good measure I throw in that she’ll be able to “frolic in the fields in the sunset” (???). Spoiler alert: IT NEVER WORKS. All that happens is my husband says no, shames me for wanting to deport a family member, then spends the evening doting on her, hugging her and letting her sleep in the bed (ew). Oh also, we will fight about it for the next three hours.
2. When he doesn’t rinse out his bowl in the sink, you momentarily consider packing a bag and fleeing this sort of abuse.
Is there any crueler punishment for a wife/mom to wake up in the morning to find her husband’s dinner plate in the sink, NOT RINSED OUT and totally encrusted with hardened, caked-on spaghetti and meat sauce? And then have to waste the next 25 minutes scrubbing it violently (maybe a little too violently…) before putting it into the dishwasher?
Post-kids, your husband not running some water in a dish will surprisingly make you come unhinged; it’s shocking and alarming the amount of rage it will incite. And the reason is this: I’m already spending the majority of my time scrubbing things out of things, because I’m a toddler mom. Scrubbing mashed blueberries out of sofas, scrubbing poop out of rugs, scrubbing vomit out of clothing, scrubbing marker off of walls, scrubbing mud off of her face—I literally do not have enough time in my schedule to scrub your dishes, too. It creates more work for me and mama ain’t about that life.
Husbands of the world, listen up: we are asking for one tiny gesture here, and that is to rinse your effing dishes. We aren’t even asking you to LOAD said dishes (because honestly, you wouldn’t do it right anyway. We are weirdly OCD and super possessive about the dish loading process.)
3. “Boy’s Nights” will become the actual bane of your existence.
Be honest, you’ve never reeeeally been a huge fan of boy’s night, but you’ve always shown moderate support because you knew it made him happy and it was kind of cute seeing how excited he got to “bro out” with the crew. Cut to a scene when you’re pregnant, exhausted, fat, lonely and sober, and you have a two year old smashing a banana into the side of your face: boy’s nights aren’t so cute anymore, are they?
And that isn’t even the worst part. Can we all agree that witnessing your hung over husband insist on sleeping in the next day while you’re up before the sun with a crying kid is its own special kind of hell? Wait I take that back—the WORST worst is when boy’s night is actually boy’s weekend somewhere, meaning he’s waking up (at 11am) in a peaceful, serene hotel room that consists of ZERO screaming kids and ALL of the room service. If there is a mom out there who claims to truly, genuinely be happy for her husband when he goes out with the boys and leaves her alone with endless dirty diapers and bedtime tantrums and possibly one billion pregnancy symptoms, I would like to meet her, shake her hand and then respectfully ask her why she is lying to all of our faces.
4. Speaking of boy’s night, when is it husband and wife night? Oh yes, hardly ever.
Everyone warns you about having less time with your significant other post-kids; you can’t escape the Facebook articles yelling at you about “9 Clever Ways To Sneak In More Time Together” or “10 Creative Date Nights at Home!” (No, everyone, we are not going to write out all of our feelings in a shared journal, attempt to make sushi together or do YouTube karaoke in the living room. Please stop suggesting these things, list-makers of the Interwebs.)
As prepared as you think you are to experience this momentous change, you never fully get it until you look up and realize you truly can’t remember the last time you had a date night. Or a cohesive, uninterrupted conversation that didn’t include your child’s name or poop schedule. Post-kids, the sum of your social life just becomes a tit-for-tat equation: “You went to happy hour on Tuesday night, babe, so could you watch her while I go to Book Club on Thursday night?” Unless you’re willing to shell out a fortune for babysitters, you two take turns having a semblance of a social life, meaning you’re usually not out socializing together.
Most nights are so hectic and exhausting that by the time we clean up dinner, bathe Scout and put her down for bed, we are both so out of it that we end up zoning out to our computers or phones until we pass out. Unless Bachelor in Paradise in on, then we zone out to that, obviously.
5. You feel ALL OF THE THINGS when you hear them giggling together upstairs in a makeshift fort.
Okay, so I promised no mushy stuff but this is pretty darn deserving to be on the list. You marry your husband thinking (and hoping) he will be a good dad someday, but then the day comes when you really get to see it happening right before your eyes, and it’s good. Really good.
On days when I’m exhausted and frazzled and at the end of my rope, he comes home from work and immediately brings Scout upstairs to wrestle or bounce in the bounce house or play endless amounts of chase, and all I can hear from downstairs is the sound of her constant, genuinely joyful belly laughs floating throughout the house. And that’s when your “hopes” suddenly turn into “reality,” and that’s a marital change you can really get on board with.
And then you smile because you know she totally idolizes him. And you feel so thankful he loves her as well as he does (and even more thankful he’s giving you a much needed break to get stuff done AKA check your Instagram in peace). And speaking of marital changes, your relationship shifts a little as you’re bonded together by this shared common ground: how much you both love that tiny little laughing person upstairs. You truly feel like a family, and that gives you strength and confidence to trudge forward even on the hardest of days.
And then when he leaves his plate in the sink with dried cheese stuck to it that night, you remember the giggles from earlier and your fury subsides a little bit (but only a little bit because WTF SRSLY DUDE?)