Team {life} Practical: Marie-Eve in Montreal

And without further ado, the fabulous Marie-Eve (who’s wedding graduate post you’ll remember from back here):
When Meg asked me to write a guest post on what it is to be a wife AND a mother, I was a little intimidated at first. Juggling the two roles is simply my reality, and therefore I live it more than I think about it. But then I understood that this was precisely what Meg, and perhaps other Team {life} Practical readers who aren’t parents yet and keep hearing scary things about it, could use: just a concrete example of how you *can* manage both, without sacrificing anything in the process‌

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t believe the negative press children had. Fearing the unknown, fearing losing yourself or your connection with your spouse is one completely understandable thing (I can remember thinking that not that long ago it seems), but parents warning non-breeders that kids are so HARD and take SUCH A TOLL on your relationship that they seize everything from you? Give me a break. Why have them then? Because we’re masochists?

Kids are sometimes hard, on you, and on your marriage. I’m not denying that. They change your life, and your perspective, and perhaps a few of your priorities, and instantly order a “new normal”. It’s up to you to view this as a good thing or a bad thing. But that’s all there is. They don’t rob you of your personality, your goals, your dreams. They don’t take away the love between two adults and the foundation they previously built. They don’t provide all the answers to life and fulfill everything. They don’t correct your flaws, and don’t provide magical solutions to imperfect relationships.

Instead of focusing on what they take from you, I suggest we talk more about what they give to you. This is not a parenting blog, so it’s not really the place to go on and on about how incredible it is when they put their little hand in yours and smile at you, although it is of course partly about that. But the thing is I feel that even outside my direct relationship with my son, becoming a mother brought me so much as a person, and as a life partner. I’m bolder, for one thing, more assertive in many ways. All my life I had struggled with persistence, but all of a sudden it stopped being so hard for me. It made me so much more dedicated, and prompted me to get involved in several causes, because just thinking about it simply wasn’t enough anymore. Above everything, it emphasized the need to strive for balance and have it together, which, in turn, made me more serene. And of course the love for my husband and my son played a part in that, but it’s mainly because that’s the person I chose to become, for myself before anything else.

My husband and I never thought that becoming parents would set us apart, but rather enrich our life and our own relationship. Having LP was a major factor of growth and change, and it tested us somewhat, pushed our own limits, and called us to redefine our roles. We know now that we need to be patient with each other, and forgiving, and argue better. We need to see the bigger picture. We need to teach through example more than through words. We’re responsible for our son forging his mental image of a loving, equal relationship. Raising a child together is a big part of our marriage, but not all of it. We don’t have as much alone time as we used to, for sure, but that doesn’t mean we care less. We do set occasions and outings, but mostly feel totally comfortable with making the most of, even embracing our current situation instead of trying to fight it. We’re happy as clams all together, feeling wonderfully silly and blessed. We never stopped traveling, because believe it or not it is very possible to do so with kids -with minimal adjustments, or leave them with their grandparents once in a while! We thrive through this parenting journey we embarked upon, both trivial and awe-inspiring. We try to steal away little couple moments here and there, and never stopped flirting. I would have never guessed before, but I am actually much more in love with my husband now that I see him as a father, because that’s a touching, real side of himself that otherwise would have never been revealed to me.I realized that I was really lucky to be surrounded by women who never made me feel like it was so difficult, or terrible, or nearly impossible to do it all. And I couldn’t thank them enough since because of them, it never even really occurred to me that it could be. And I think this has to be the most important thing, to have such models to look up to. Because you know, some people will always pinpoint the negative, the imperfectness, the burden, the sleepless nights‌ And then, quietly, seemingly effortlessly, some people will just find ways to make it work (even if the imperfectness is still there). I simply try to steer clear of the former kind, I was when I was planning my wedding, and it figures that it’s also the case for life in general. You are responsible for the kind of marriage you want to have, for the kind of mother you want to be. I really agreed with Meg when she recently talked about how marriage made her happy, and secure, and brave, and fearless. I definitely feel like that as well: now that the two, and the three, of us have each other, we can do anything!

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  • K

    this is beautiful. thank you for a bit of sanity and wisdom :)

  • Good post M-E! I think what's important to realize is that the underlying relationship is the key. It has to be supportive and flexible to survive both marriage and children. Both people have to take responsibility for making it work.

  • Thanks so much dear!That means a lot to me.

    And thanks again to lovely Meg for giving me this opportunity.

  • What a gorgeous sentiment! I think it's easy to fall into the trap of focusing solely on the kids. It happened to my husband and I, but just a little before we both stepped back to evaluate what we were doing. Nowadays I'd venture to say our daughter has brought us closer together, though parenting is still stressful for us both.

  • maybe those people who think kids are so HARD are the same people who think life without kids is also hard. so maybe it's not about the kids, but about your own ability to deal with life and take things in stride. collectively my boyfriend and i seem terrible at getting through life, so the idea of having children seems totally overwhelming.

  • @Julia I agree with you that it's probably partly a question of perspective, I've seen that a lot around me…

    And, you know, just for the record, I was never this person who thought about becoming a mother all of her life and always wanted a family. I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed before too! But just trust yourself. That is, if you want kids at all, because I don't think there's anything wrong with not wanting them.

    Part of why this journey made me so empowered and happy (even though, of course I struggle and am sometimes stressed too!) is realizing that wow, surprisingly, I *am* able to do it all.

  • Marie-Eve, that was wonderful. And Meg, your friends sounds like awesome people.

  • Great post. I am actually terrified of having children. I just don't know if I have what it takes so I am hungry for all kinds of perspectives on this matter from people who have and have not done it. I just keep telling myself if and when the time is right it will happen.

  • This is such a great post ~ especially that whether you are married or not having a child DOES make you become more of who you are. Once faced with the reality that I was responsible for bringing up a person I had to figure out what my values are and what I stood for – fast!
    And also, I fully believe that we don't experience the spectrum of love in its entirety until we have a child. And what an even better feeling to share that love and experience with your parter.
    My husband and I each have a child from a previous relationship and one with each other. It means we don't get as much time to stare into each other's eyes, but we get so much time to be a family – and that is great.

  • love love love love love love love love. i love this post so much. it's going in my favorites, to be eventually printed and re-read over and over again for whenever i become a wife and then a mother.

  • fleda

    To echo Cate: thanks for being a positive model!

    I see too many people whose interesting adult lives seem kind of derailed by kids, and it makes me really not want to have kids. You provide a much needed counter-perspective, and it helps my internal debate to be more balanced.

  • Oh thank you for this. I never wanted children when I was younger, but I've been longing for them in the last few years. However, I feel terrified that I'll lose myself and lose what I have with my partner. It's hard to feel convinced that we can do it our way and do it well when we don't have examples of precisely what we want to emulate. In addition, I've begun seeing friends' awful Facebook status updates about the horrors of parenting. I know they love their children, but it's the negativity and difficulty that gets highlighted all too often. I want more examples like this of the ways in which parenthood is incredible, challenging, and worthwhile without losing ourselves in the process. Thank you Marie-Eve and Meg for sharing this.

  • Cate Subrosa

    You know those "models to look up to" you talk about, Marie-Eve? You are one of those for me xx

  • agirl

    THANK YOU for this post. From a woman who wants kids, and never considered herself a masochist.

  • yep- i work with kids… and i see how much joy they bring, but since they are mostly all special needs preschoolers… i see a lot of the pain.

    it's so nice to hear something positive and beautiful.

    thank you!

  • What an awesome post! I'm so happy to have heard this perspective.

    Seven months ago my little sister had a baby. I thought she was crazy, and I was so worried that the kid would ruin her life. I've never been around babies, and was terrified of him when he was a new-born.

    But, he's incredible, and she loves being a mother. Most importantly, for me, there is a sense that he just… IS. He's not good or bad, he wasn't a mistake or a blessing, he's just a person, and he's here, and he's hers (ours).

    I guess my (limited) experience being an aunt, and hearing great stories like this make me realize that the noise we hear about having kids is so one-dimensional. Having kids is nuanced, and people have complex emotions about all sorts of things- kids included. Kids don't end your life, and they don't start it over- they're just part of it.

  • April

    Beautifully written and so heartfelt! Thank you for sharing. It seems all I ever hear from my friends that have children is how much of burden they are, how difficult they make life, and then our friends inevitably caution us by saying, "DON'T do it!" It's quite sad really.

    So – I'm just thrilled to see your positive comments and how you balance being you, a mum, and a wife. Well done and wishing many fun, happy, silly years ahead to you all!

  • That was a beautiful post. Thank you thank you thank you for continually bringing these wonderful people to us!

  • Olivia

    This is a great post!

    I’ve lived in Canada and the US, and in Montreal specifically, and I think that there is a different attitude about children and about relationships in Quebec. From what I could see as a non-parent, the cultural norm there does embrace more of what you wrote in this post than other places that I have lived. Which is not to say that we can’t all achieve that wherever we are, but it is nice when you’re in an environment that promotes more balance.

    I also think Quebec has that sense of embracing la vie quotidienne right in a lot of ways – right down to drinking beer in kiddie pools on hot summer days!