Arrested Development – a guest post by Jenny Uebbing

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on April 18, 2013

This next guest post is by cutie pie Jenny Uebbing who blogs at Mama Needs Coffee (thank you, love!). Jenny currently lives in Rome with her husband and two little men (and I currently live vicariously through her). She is equal parts sweet and sassy and I’m really quite smitten with her. Just look at those pictures below! Isn’t she adorable? Adorable.

 

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

JU3 Somewhere post-baby number 2 in year number 3 of ’till death do us part, it occurred to me that I was perhaps a tad preoccupied with my offspring, to the detriment of my beloved spouse. Now I don’t mean that in a creepy, overly-involved-with-my-children-can’t-make-time-for-that-bum-who-contributed-half-their-DNA kinda way, but simply that I had become so consumed, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually, with the gargantuan task of keeping small humans alive, that I had only scraps to toss Daddy dearest’s way when he returned home in the evenings. (Now if that isn’t a PSA for wedded bliss, I don’t know what is.)

Now, it comes as a surprise to no one that family life, post-partum, is rough. The entire orbit of our little solar system becomes disrupted by a new little body in the mix, and as we scramble to find our new homeostasis, there is barely controlled chaos. For a while. But within the chaos, I began to catch glimpses of the new normal, and what I saw was not pretty. While my kids were growing and developing relatively on schedule, as many neurotic searches via Babycenter and numerous mommy blogs reassured me, my marriage wasn’t exactly flourishing.

JU4

Perhaps some real-life examples will serve to illustrate what I mean:

Scene one: 5:45 pm. Both kids screaming for dinner, which has not yet materialized. Begin frantic flurries of text messaging campaign for takeout. Forget our budget, or the very reasonable decision we both arrived at to spend x dollars per month on y. It was suddenly almost 6 pm, and somehow dinner had failed once again to plan and prepare itself, despite my being very handsomely clad in dirty yoga pants which had taken me to the supermarket that very morning.

Scene two: 9:20 pm. Both children are, temporarily, asleep in various locations throughout the house. The husband and I have 30 minutes of uninterrupted alone time. Naturally, I slide into bed … with my laptop. Time to mindlessly surf the internet!

Scene three: 4 am. Someone is screaming. It’s either me or it’s one of the children, but it’s too dark to tell for certain. I angrily hoist my tired, jiggly body out of bed and make my way to the source of the disruption, mentally railing against the injustice of it all, and silently cursing myself for telling my sweetheart to stay in bed and let me handle the midnight intruders, since he had to be at work the next day. “I never get to ‘escape’ to work,” I grumbled mentally, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a ‘break’ every day, to be in an office again.” I’d fume while nursing a demanding newborn in the semi-darkness of our bedroom, growing more and more resentful at the sound of light snoring coming from the other side of the bed.

Get the picture? I think the above drama perfectly encapsulates the first 6 months of life, post-partum, that is our little family’s existence, and it ain’t pretty. Somewhere along the bumpy ride, this time around, I began to realize those areas where I did, in fact, have more control than I had imagined, and wouldn’t you know it, when I stopped seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances, things began to change.

JU First, I saw concrete choices that I was making throughout the day that negatively impacted my relationship with Dave, namely, my absolutely empty reservoir of patience and resources when it came to him. I had been drawing it down to almost zero with the kids all day, and then snapping at the first hint of even minor adversity where he was concerned. He wanted a hot dinner after a day at the office? Instead of planning and throwing some simple ingredients in the crock pot in the morning, I frittered away minutes-turned-hours via Pinterest and Blogger during my moments of downtime during the day, and suddenly I had failed plans because I’d, you guessed it, failed to plan.

Second, I was not taking time to pray for patience and grace in my first and primary human relationship: my marriage. I threw occasional prayers heavenward for my kids, for their needs, for my ability to meet those needs…but I had stopped praying specifically for my husband and for our marriage. Surely God knows what I need in that arena, I must have rationalized…but when had I stopped speaking with Him about it? A few minutes of intentional, specific prayer for Dave and for our relationship during the day make a tremendous difference in how we relate to one another. Imagine that.

Finally, I had to learn to accept help. Both his and other people’s. When he offered to get up and give the baby a bottle in the night so I could get some extra sleep, I needed to say yes. Living martyrdom wasn’t looking good on me, particularly when I grumbled all the way to the Cross, if you will. And I wasn’t any kind of hero when I snapped and screamed at my kids during the day because I’d valiantly breastfed all the live long night and then woke up closer to dead than alive the next morning. When I took opportunities as they were presented to me, whether to have a shower while my kids played in the daycare at the gym, or to grab a nap or do my makeup while a friend watched the boys for an hour in the afternoon, I had SO much more to give to Dave when I saw him again. Amazing what a few more minutes of sleep (or a little mascara) will do for a marriage.

I pray that the next time the Lord blesses our family with a new member, I will remember this, and I will remember how badly things get out of alignment when I forget the primary player in the drama that is the vocation of married life: the spouse God entrusted to me.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace April 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm

LOVE this. Jenny is a diamond.
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Ellen TCMom April 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Great article I am pretty sure I inspired much of this ;) thanks for the reminders!

Christy April 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Jenny! Fantastic as always! Your children’s contributor of half their DNA is a lucky guy!
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Kristin April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm

This is a description of our first…14? 15? 18? months after the birth of our daughter. For us, it turned out I had PPD, discovered veeeerrry late and having had time to get way out of control, but I think even given the PPD, your short, simple ideas that worked for you could have made a huge, huge difference. I’m hoping to keep some of that in mind, and pay closer attention to my own mental health, this time around — yay for baby #2 due November! Actually, I promised my wonderful husband I would when we discussed being ready for another baby!

Amelia April 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Excellent post. My youngest child is now 7 months old…and I totally know what you mean about it taking 6 months to recover postpartum. You’re totally right…it is so easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily life and taking care of kids, that we totally neglect our marriage. Thanks for the reminder!
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Mary April 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, Jenny! : )
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Rakhi April 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I’m sorry…did you place a camera in our home? Definitely hits very deeply home for me as we are muddling through #2 in 3 years of wedded bliss as well. Thanks for your honesty!

Rakhi April 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I’m sorry…did you place a camera in our home? Definitely hits very deeply home for me as we are muddling through #2 in 3 years of wedded bliss as well. Thanks for your honesty!
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Maurisa April 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Lovely article. I couldn’t agree more. Even after 7 kids and 20 plus years if marriage I need to remember this!

Jenna@CallHerHappy April 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Well, I live vicariously through Jenny too. And, I love this, per usual.

You’ve left me thinking to myself, “Your husband offers to let you sleep while he gives the kid a bottle?!?!”

I shouldn’t let myself forget so soon. I know Mike probably did that for me with Ellen ;)
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Britt April 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I cannot count the number of times I said “that is me” while reading this. Your honest and beautiful post is what I have been telling myself for weeks but what I really needed to hear from someone else. Thank you. So much!

Elisa | blissfulE April 19, 2013 at 2:01 am

I totally recommend NOT getting up in the night to breastfeed a newborn, but rather to co-sleep and simply nurse on demand while laying comfortably in bed with your husband. It’s totally safe as long as you and your husband haven’t been drinking or taking meds that make you drowsy. I use a bed rail as well. I have fed four babes in the past 6 years using this method, up til the time they are 10 months old and get in their own cribs) and it is the only way I could have survived. See the book Three in a Bed if you’re interested in further information. Blessings.
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Jenny April 19, 2013 at 3:05 am

yeah, we definitely tried that…but I don’t sleep very well with a bebe attached at the nip, if you catch my drift. And the eventual bottles were pumped breast milk until he was 10 months old, so he was still getting my best. I had some pretty wicked PPD, so the small stretches of separation from my little guy turned in the p.m. turned out to be really necessary to my sanity, even if they only lasted a couple of hours. I’m glad co-sleeping works so well for your family though!
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Jessica April 19, 2013 at 8:06 am

Hello Jenny, first – loved the post, so real, so true! :) Then…… THIS IS THE SMALLEST WORLD IN THE WORLD…. that didn’t even make sense. But really, we’ve never met, but I know your husband pretty well – in the FOCUS kinda way. :) He would know me as Jessica Murphy. Please tell him I said hello and now I will stalk you the the socially appropriate methods..ie facebook and your blog! :)

God Bless
Jess
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Martha April 19, 2013 at 9:40 am

Agreed. I have 7, and for various reasons have only nursed the last one, and ended up co-sleeping out of sheer exhaustion. She just turned 2. Guess where she sleeps? And I still look like a zombie. The rest slept through the night, in their own crib at about 2 months (although those 2 months nearly killed me every time).

So while getting up with babe is like death warmed over for the first few months (vs. ‘breast feeding is awesome, I can stay in bed!’), in the long run it is preferable. I plan on getting UP to nurse the next one and try to keep a scrap of sanity. Mi cama no es su cama!

Lisa April 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

Funny, I’ve been in the same scenes. :) So good, Jenny!

Colleen April 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm

It’s like I was reading about my own life. Like, for real! Hit the nail on the head. I need to pray more. I need to relax. I need to ask for help. It’s all easier said than done. I can’t imagine another little person in this house b/c I am utterly exhausted by the end of the day I have nothing to give my husband. Marriage first right?

Julie Cragon April 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

“Living martyrdom wasn’t looking good on me, particularly when I grumbled all the way to the Cross, if you will. ” Love this line! Been there with most of this post but little gems like this still pertain.

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