Written with love, by Karley Kiker
Okay, ladies. I realize that some of you are newly engaged (after all, this blog is called “The Overwhelmed Bride”), some of you have very recently acquired the title of “newlyweds,” and still others of you (like Taylor and me, for example) have been married for a couple of years but still aren’t feeling exactly parental.
No matter where you’re at in your marriage journey, though, I expect that the topic of expecting (see what I did there) will come up in more than a few conversations over the next few years. The lyrics “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage” didn’t just come out of nowhere, after all!
Although Taylor and I do not have children, we periodically have conversations about what our lives might be like if we did in the future. But that’s just the thing...since we don’t have kids of our own, we’re limited to mulling over hypotheticals. That’s why for today’s column, I decided to interview two of my momma friends on the subjects of A.) Motherhood, B.) Marriage, and C.) How “A” has changed “B.” I’m so thankful that Ericka and Dani were willing to share their journeys with me + anyone else out there who’s in the middle of questions and conversations about the “baby makes three” phase of marriage!
K: What were your expectations about having a baby and becoming a mom, and how have they matched up with (or differed from) the reality?
E: “You can think of my expectations versus reality as Pinterest versus Pinterest Fail, basically. I thought I would have the perfect kid, be the perfect mom, do daily activities to stimulate Kolter’s brain, and always have a clean house. That has not been anywhere close to true!”
D: “I stepped away from a job that I truly enjoyed when our son, Schaeffer, was born. Since I was a little girl, it was always the next step for me (go to college, get married, work, have a baby, stay home with said baby); however, the transition was much more challenging than I had imagined. The days were quieter, the completion of tasks just not as rewarding, the pats on the back (nearly) non-existent. It was a humbling experience.”
K: What are some of the very first issues you and your husband had to work through as new parents?
E: “KJ is a football coach, and football season started on August 14 last year. Kolter was born on August 15, meaning KJ was very busy and didn’t get to be involved as much in the beginning. I started to feel like I was doing most of the work at home, so that’s something we had to discuss in order to keep feelings of resentment from growing. Now we have to both remember how important it is to make time for our marriage through date nights and scheduling getaways. It’s about prioritizing and putting the other person first, just like anything in marriage. If you really have intentions of putting the other person before yourself, everything works itself out.”
K: Biggest changes and challenges since your child’s arrival:
E: “It’s not even a ‘then’ versus ‘now’ thing...it’s a complete life change, but it happens gradually. Suddenly it isn’t just about you and your husband anymore—it’s about the family. There’s a lot more planning. There is no more sleeping in. Those spontaneous ‘going to see a movie in the middle of the day’ outings don’t happen, and you can’t go out with your friends in the same way that you used to. The biggest thing is continuing to communicate through it all. In terms of challenges, it’s hard not to let your child become the center of things. From a Christian perspective we have to remember that Kolter is ultimately not ours—God has entrusted him to us and we are called to love him and raise him to the best of our ability, but ultimately he is a gift from God.”
K: How do you continue to foster intimacy and grow closer as husband and wife in the midst of the busyness of growing a family?
E: “The best thing we can do for Kolter is to have a strong marriage. Which means that even though I want to just take a bath and go straight to bed after putting him down for the night, it’s worth it for me to stay up an extra hour and invest in my husband. Before having Kolter we used to wake up in the middle of the night and just talk. That’s not a reality anymore, but we can put work away and turn off the TV and talk before falling asleep. Every six months, we’re trying to schedule a getaway for a few days so that we can have a mini vacation and focus on staying connected. I’m also utilizing a Mother’s Day Out program once a week, so I try to use those days to go have lunch with KJ at work.”
D: “Over the past few years we have done different things to foster intimacy. We have found that when we don't, life is just much more challenging. One of the greatest things we did was to partner with another couple with young kids and arrange weekly date nights. Since the time our firstborn was two months old, we protected our Thursday nights. Every other week we would go out on a date night and on the opposite weeks, we would watch our friends' child so they could do the same. We also vowed to not talk about our child during date night. That was harder than it seemed but so good! Now, with two kids and two years later, we still have fight for a weekly date night. There is just something about getting out of the house, getting dressed up for each other (slash maybe just applying makeup for the first time that day) and having someone else wait on you that does the body good! We have also done morning breakfast dates in our home before the kids are up, been morning workout buddies at our home, and curl up and read together at night.”
K: How has having a child brought you and your husband closer together?
E: “It’s super cliche, but as soon as Kolter was born I saw my husband—this big, strong man—loving on him, and it made me see him in a different light. And then you just learn and grow together. Neither of us have done this before, and we have no clue what we’re doing, but we’re figuring it out together. There’s a strong bond that happens through that. It’s like going into the wild and knowing nothing...ultimately you’re going to end up stronger because you found your way together.”
D: “We fiercely both love Schaeffer and Charlotte. Other than our Heavenly Father, there is no one that loves them more. Our love for them is a uniting force. We delight in them together, we talk about them together, we train them together, we talk about our hopes and dreams for them together, we pray for them together. Having kids has definitely changed our relationship, but with a little work, some highs and lows, intentionality and seeking to put one another first, it is stronger.”