"Every night as I put my daughter in bed, I hold her tiny body close to me and whisper in her ear and tell her that I love her more than anything. And it’s my most sincere prayer that she understands just how much I mean those words; I love her more than words could ever articulate and more than I could say in a thousand lifetimes. She has changed my life, my heart, my soul, my body, every definition of me. I love her more than anything, but I don’t love her more than anyone.
Now before you stop reading this and think I’m some shoddy mom, let me explain.
When I was pregnant, I remember having a conversation with some women. Young moms, young wives, all girls in my same boat of life. I remember listening to one of them talk about how you can never anticipate the love you have for your baby until she comes, a love that you would sacrifice anything for, give your life for. And then she dropped a bomb saying, “I love my husband, but I just love my baby so much more.”
And that straight terrified me.
Being a mother is a gift, a truly divine calling. I believe with all my heart that Ava is a pure manifestation of God’s love for me; a daily reminder of the goodness in this life and the fact that He knows the ins and outs of my heart and what I need, even when I don’t have the courage to say it or fight for it. She is a gift given to me by God…and my husband.
That night I remember expressing my thoughts and fears to my husband, telling him how I didn’t want to love our baby more than I loved him. I chose him because I love him and I meant it when I made vows expanding beyond eternity; he is my person and my partner and my number one. And in making him my number one, our daughter is learning how healthy relationships function, how she deserves to be treated by a man, how love like in the movies and the fairytales can be completely real. What could possibly be better for her?
But that is all good and nice and easy to say, but living it can be a challenge. Your life and your priorities change when you become a mom and you have a tiny human who needs you for survival. It’s easy to let your husband take a back seat. But try to keep him riding shotgun. He is co-captain of your team, your biggest supporter and your best advocate. Don’t forget that. And let him know that you haven’t forgotten that.
Feel good about yourself. Do your makeup, take a shower, go to Target and buy something new and pretty, go to the gym, do whatever you have to do to feel good about yourself. Note that I am not saying “do your makeup how your husband likes, go to Target and buy something your husband likes” because I most definitely am not and that won’t make you feel good. It is easier to let your husband into your world when you feel good about yourself for yourself. When you look in the mirror and think you are pretty, when you read something that makes you feel smart and powerful, when you create something beautiful, you feel good and you want to share it. So do you, girl.
Be a part of each other’s worlds. I know a lot of couples who live pretty separate lives; the husband goes to work and the wife stays home and slowly but surely, their worlds become so separated that they can no longer relate to each other. Don’t let this happen! Ask your husband about his world. Ask him what he ate for lunch. Let him tell you about his manager and how many miles he ran at the gym and tell him about what you watched on Dr. Phil and who is so annoying posting seven times a day on Facebook.
Initiate sex. This coincides a little bit with my first little tip, but sometimes it’s easy to be distracted by life and babies and forget that your person needs you in more ways than one and newsflash: you need him too. There is no greater way to express love and gratitude and there is no greater stress reliever and binding force than intimacy.
Date each other. It still is really hard for us to leave the house without Ava and she is fifteen months old…but each time we do, we are glad we did. My heart hurts a little bit for the first half hour or so, but it is quick to heal. Especially when I can eat a meal at the same time as my husband, with both hands, not holding a wiggly baby, and we can have a real, adult conversation not disrupted by spilled water glasses and sticky graham cracker hands. It is so important to stay connected to both each other and who you were before you became parents. Going out without your love child might help you do both.
Co-parent. This is my favorite word. I love it because I love what it means: both of you, mom and dad, parenting, like a team, not one greater than the other. You both change diapers and you both make chicken nuggets and you both do bath time. You both wash crib sheets and you both know the spot on her neck she loves to be tickled. You both know her favorite part of Tangled and you both wake up with her at 3am when she barfs. Co-parenting is so important because your child will learn to rely on both of you and you will learn to rely on each other.
Chances are, there is nothing both you and your husband are more passionate about than your child…and what better way to see the beauty in your spouse than when he is singing Frozen while changing the baby or throwing her in the air while she giggles like she is the happiest little cherub on the planet? And how could you ever be more beautiful to him than when you’re nursing that sweet baby he would die for?
I love my daughter more than anything, but not more than anyone. Just one. And I sure hope you can say the same."