‘When you pick a partner, you pick a story.’ Esther Perel.
If you haven’t listened to the podcast, “Where Should We Begin?” You should. It’s a couples therapy session with Esther Perel and it’s fantastic. It’s real and raw and worth the listen. Plus, it’s not specific to straight couples.
A couple weeks ago Betsy and I stayed up past 11PM chatting about life. It felt like we were back in the early days of dating. Fully engaged in the conversation. Granted the topics were different. Beyond our ideals of marriage and children. Because I was a way better mom before I had kids.
One kid was easy. Correction, one kid seemed easy after the second kid showed up. One was actually really hard. It’s amazing how we can simultaneously love what we have and grieve what we lost. Feeling deeply fulfilled from the family ‘cuddle puddle’, to wishing one was back in college tied to nothing. One, two, ten, the number doesn’t change the new identity of parent. And the identity shift is the plot twist. The daily obstacles, the new vocabulary.
Betsy and I, we’re in the thick of it. And without intentional acts of love the domestic consumes all. Laundry and bills and attempting to get health insurance figured out. Oh, and teaching Noa why ‘asshole’ isn’t an appropriate word to use.
I hit this period beyond the initial phase of postpartum chaos where I wonder about the path I’m on. Where life feels really hard. And I contemplate all the paths that would have been easier? Better? Just different? I know this not to be true. But the Instagram posts of other couples sure make it feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, I know Instagram pics are not what I should be comparing my life to. But I get sucked into the furniture ideas and cute puppies and it’s hard not to miss the smitten couples and perfect children.
Luckily, and through much self evaluation, I can recognize when the slump is coming. Although recognizing and appropriate coping are two different things. You’d think after three very intentioned kids I would figure out how to avoid this slump?
But, alas, no. It comes. It sticks around for awhile. I text my doctor crying and asking for confirmation that I am not fucking my children up completely. She says I’m not. I trust her. And then, slowly, it fades. And I realize that my life is pretty damn near perfect.