Why having a child makes me a better person, and a better wife

This morning, I got a little snippy with my husband because of some slightly annoying thing he did with the shower curtain, making the hooks on the pole come loose, fall off, etc. He has done this before, and I haven’t said anything, but this time, I said, “Hey, do you think you could not do this?” and I could hear the impatience in my voice. When he said goodbye and headed off to work, I could still hear the impatience in my voice when I said goodbye. Then I proceeded to take a shower.

I often fantasize in the shower—sometimes my mind wanders to the past, and I try to relive it perfectly, using all of the knowledge and experience I have now. Sometimes I imagine the future. This time, I imagined giving a toast at my son’s wedding. I was toasting his new spouse.

I saw myself toasting a woman, then a man, then a transgender person—I don’t assume he’s going to be heterosexual—and saying words like, When I first saw your smile, I thought, Oh, I hope he keeps this one. And the rest of the toast was about how all I’ve ever wanted for my son is a life of happiness, peace, health, joy. I am so grateful, so, so grateful, that he found you, because I know you love him purely, and just as importantly, you respect him and treat him well.

When I got out of the shower, I texted my husband and apologized for getting snippy. He texted back that he had not taken it personally in the least, that he knows I’m stressed (leaving on a trip soon), but thanking me for my sweet words. I love yous back and forth.

I do this more and more. I catch myself, in even the slightest little misstep, the smallest blip of taking him for granted, and I apologize. I make sure I take the time to hold him, stroke his cheeks (he’s like a puppy, that man, how he loves to be stroked!), nuzzle him, kiss him, tell him I love him and appreciate him. We went to a gathering this past weekend with old friends, and I told him, later, all about how much I love seeing him from across the room, to see that amazing smile, hear him asking thoughtful questions of another person, leaning in, listening. I tell him that he’s got some seriously sexy swag when he walks. I tell him that he makes me feel loved, special. We don’t have sex as often as we used to (giant understatement), but every time we do, we are amazed by how great it is, like no time at all has passed, our bodies so crazy about each other. What a gift.

“One day our boy will leave the house, and it’ll be just you and me,” I said last night during a conversation about the future.

DH shrugged. “Well, that’ll be great, too, just you and me,” he said. I smiled.

I am learning. Every day, I am learning how to be a better person, and a better wife.

I want to be in love and show in-love-ness to our son. I want him to see how happy and connected we are to not only him, but to each other.

I want to treat my husband with as much respect as I want my son’s future spouse to treat him. I don’t think it is always a conscious thing, but somewhere in my mind, I am catching myself when I misstep because I want to model for my son how I want his girlfriends and partners and eventual lifetime partner to treat him.

It has taken me a long time to realize how disrespectful my dad was and still is to my mom. He has, throughout the years, shown a lot of exasperation in response to her—the subtext, you are so stupid—and barked at her, put her down in front of my brother and me. He has ordered her around. She has waited on him. He has doled out what I now understand was/is emotional abuse. They have been together since they were fifteen. He is the son of a coal miner, grew up poor in West Virginia, and was physically and emotionally abused himself—although he’d probably never describe it like that. He has changed tremendously over the decades, and he has an extremely thoughtful, soft, sweet side that is the person we all love. He would literally do anything for you. He’s a good person. But he picked up from his upbringing some serious anger, impatience, and disrespect problems.

It has taken me a long time to realize that i picked up a fraction of that bad stuff, too, and that I must work diligently to not act it out, and if it does come out, to make amends. Having a child puts all of that on the fast-track. I feel that I’m getting closer and closer to the person I’ve always aspired to be.

I have S to thank for that.

Being a parent, you get caught up in how you are helping this little human become a bigger and more complex person. But all along the way, the little human is helping you grow, too, and just as much.

If anyone out there has read any books that speak to this, I’d love to hear your recommendations.

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5 Comments

  1. Well done. And thanks for sharing! Isn’t it an amazing thing to be able to really appreciate your partner? And then assume the responsibility of rolemodeling a healthy relationship for your child? I noticed I’ve started this recently also. I get so frustrated with my husband for so many little things, then remember all the helpful/thoughtful things he does and instantly feel regret. But I’m getting there and so is he.

    Reply
  2. We all could benefit from some books…

    Reply
  3. Beautiful post. I hope for the same, to have a beautiful, respectful partnership that is a good role model for my FutureBaby for life, even when our world is turned upside down. I think it’s so important to nurture your marriage through parenthood, and so often I get the message that “there’s just no time any more.” Thank you for affirming that you can still have your relationship be a center, even if some things are more infrequent than they used to be. I love that you apologized for the snippiness… I have to do that every once and a while too, and I think it’s so important to admit when you could have been kinder/more patient. It breeds further kindness to acknowledge slipups in that department. Love this post!

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  4. Yes! Books please! I need some too. This post is inspiring to me, because as you know, I struggle with so much, of which I have only touched the surface of on my blog. Amen to you for making the effort to be mindful and loving to those who matter to you most. Someday your son will thank you for it. Cheers to breaking all the shitty cycles!

    Reply
  5. Great post and a good reminder for all of us “new” parents who could use a little more affection and patience!

    Reply

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