Tuesday, 10 April 2018

First I Ask the Friends, Then I Do the Parenting (Part 3)

Any day now.
While living the child-free life, I've watched as each of my friends got married and/or had children, the majority of them before me. I've also watched as they had kids and then quickly drifted away, something I admittedly resented somewhat no matter how understanding I tried to be. I even went on to vow to myself that when I have kids, I'm not going to miss out on things, and skip events, and de-prioritize my friends - I'm not going to use them as an excuse. But as I get closer to having children, and I watch my wife as she turns our house into a giant nest, and I get ready for the baby myself, I struggle more and more about how I'm going to keep this promise to myself.

A couple of my friends put this into perspective for me. They explained to me that you wait for so long to meet your child, then once they are here you want to spend every moment of every day with them. You get so wrapped up in their little world that you forget to take care of yourself. Whether that be missing social events and activities, or playing sports, or working out. They said "you tell yourself you'll have time tomorrow, or the next day, but before you know it months have passed" and the time you needed for yourself is gone. They explained that this doesn't stop with your marriage either, that you can end up neglecting your relationship too - not maliciously, but honestly out of love for your new child.

When I think of the advice they gave, I compare it to riding on a plane, and the directions of how to use the oxygen masks in the event of an emergency. The directions are very clear that an adult must put on their own oxygen mask first, before helping their child. The reason for this, is because if the adult passes out first, there will be nobody to help the child. What I learned from them is that in order to take the best care of your child, you need to make sure you're also taking care of yourself and your relationships. This isn't to say there won't be sacrifices, those are inevitable, but finding a way to meet your own needs and those of your relationship with your partner ensures that your child has a solid opportunity to grow.

This is something I already admittedly have trouble with, and especially now that K is off work and at home waiting for the baby to come, something that has come to the forefront of our relationship. Being home by herself all day is a lonely place to be, even with a dog and two cats. So when I'm gone all the time working, or volunteering, or even when I'm at home working in my office - my absence takes much more of a toll than it did when she was working. I tell myself that I'm doing these things for my family (which there is some truth to), but what I've realized, with the help of the advice from my friends, is that I need to prioritize a little differently now - something that I'm sure will change even more once the baby is here.

I don't really know what that prioritization needs to look like, I'm still just fumbling around in the dark. What I do know, is that Kay and I are due for a date night, so date night is where I'm going to start.

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