Bending, Not Breaking

Not a shock: babies are all-consuming. Also not a shock: marriage is all-consuming. Still not shocking: the rest of our lives don’t stop or halt. All three add up to much more than 100%.

The question becomes, what gives? Who gives? Which part of your life bends so another part won’t break.

For me, it’s been this blog. Time stolen away, alone, to jot down ideas and rewrite them, turn them into coherent thoughts, hit publish. Seems simple when I say it, but really it’s not. There’s a whole mindset that rides along with good writing. Nothing is seen as solitary, as this thing alone. You view your daughter, your spouse, your home, trips to the grocery store not as discreet events in the timeline of parenting, but as a continuum of events that run into an idea, a story, a post, maybe even a theory about parenting (if you can get to that level—and I did not!).

In my world, sometime around Collins’ 4th month, I realized where I had to bend. My wife needed me, not my writing, thoughts, sentences. Collins needed me to hold her and dance and read her stories. Not observe and report and theorize.

So no blog posts. I missed it at first, but only for reasons of ego. I like to have written, no matter how difficult the process of writing. Then I forgot about it. I take pictures, make jokes on IG, sent texts to friends and call that a creative outlet.

But then, I didn’t miss it at all. I’m sorry to say I stopped worrying about posts pretty damn quickly. I stopped jotting ideas, stopped considering the differences between my expectations and Collins’ reality.

My joke, if anyone (and let’s face it, it was barely anyone) asked was this: I decided to stay married instead of staying a blogger. It’s not untrue, but it’s very unkind to my wife. She made no such demands. She even missed reading my posts.

No, it was me, tired and cranky and wondering when full nights of sleep might begin again (still wondering, btw) that decided to stop.

But a funny thing occurred: We started arguing more. Don’t worry, we get over it quickly, but we both noticed it. And obviously: we didn’t (don’t) like it.

Of course we’re in a stressful time. Of course we still work and deal with daycare and we step on Duplo blocks and books and thus teach Collins some very colorful phrases. But to me, it felt (feels?) like something more. Like something in me that’s not right, not enough, not processed, and too often lashing out.

Then, I had some “time off” (note the scare quotes, everyone). A business trip for 2 nights, with a newly sick baby at home, leaving Jessica to face days off of work, days alone with no help. All while I slept in a king bed without tiny feet kicking me.

So, I wrote her a note, left it on the milk she’d be grabbing for coffee. It wasn’t much, just some apologies and love and more than a little admiration. I teared up as I wrote it. So did she as she read it**.

{**eds. note: this is not a humble-brag about beautiful writing, but a testament to the scarcity of any written communication not involving texts about schedules and dinner plans}

That simple act—writing what I feel and thinking about the reader (my lovely wife)—changed me, at least in the short term. It changed Jessica, too. Putting voice, words, thoughts to paper (digital or real) makes us consider who we are and what we’re doing in a different light. And we start to change what we think and feel when we say it.

My full point here is more than a bit obtuse. It actually isn’t about writing (or not writing) this blog. As I try to condense it down, I just get this: there is a way you connect to the person your spouse is and the person you want to be for them.

So go find that thing that’s your thing and do it. Do it often, and as much as you can. Nothing makes us love more than being seen and loved for who we really are. And to do that, not too oddly, you have find that one thing that makes you be who you really are.

For me, it’s writing. For you, it’s probably something else. Hiking, running, coffee, cooking dinner. Hell, watch “The Bachelor” together and thank God above you’re married now. Just find it and do it and fall in love again.

And then go pick up your kids and do the same thing.

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