A Marriage/ Parenting Analogy

I remember when I got engaged; people came out the woodwork to wish my (now) husband and I well. It was like an alternate universe where you're suddenly planning for a decadent affair. You get in touch with people you maybe haven't had a chance to keep up with. There are parties. Oh, the parties. And the presents....

It's just like a fairytale, or at least that's how it was for me. I was always busy between dress fittings, manicures, parties, planning for the wedding, and the sheer anticipation of getting married is just blissful. That's why I always encourage long engagements. I mean, who wouldn't want to prolong the sweetness of a time that is so wonderful!?

And then we got married. We honeymooned, came home and, to be honest, things had changed. Yes, they changed. Even after seven years of cohabitation, they changed. We were married. It came with a set of expectations, a deeper commitment, and some problems. People who are married who tell you they have never had any problems as a couple either haven't been married long enough, or are just plain lying.

The thing is, marriage is wonderful. It's a walk--a journey. But it doesn't come without struggle. It took a couple years to iron out the kinks of our new arrangement. Yes, you read that right, a couple years. Arguably the most challenging two years in our relationship were the first two years of marriage. But iron it did, and while we still get wrinkles here and there, we have found a formula.

Funny enough, then, I noticed a similar pattern with pregnancy and parenting. After a few years of marriage, my husband and I decided to take the plunge into parenthood. For me, this was much scarier than getting married, which should have told me something right there. But I was "ready" and committed.

When I got pregnant, well, it was sort of like being engaged. People were ecstatic. Over. The Moon. I was surprised, very pleasantly might I add, by other people's enthusiasm because it helped me get excited too (even though I was terrified.) Again we found ourselves planning for a big event. There is a lot to do when you're having a baby. Lots of product reviews to read, things to pick out, and there is, of course, the baby shower, which we made a big fuss over.

And then I went into labor. I forgot all about the fear in those moments, I became blissfully excited. Even the first day in the hospital I was overjoyed and filled with a sort of void that happiness (and relief) that a safe birth brings. There she was, all ours and ready to come home with us.

The reality of parenting didn't really hit me for probably a couple of weeks. And it wasn't the sleep thing (my daughter is a good sleeper) and it wasn't the breastfeeding thing (also no problem), but it was the enormity of it all that was so overwhelming to me at times. I was responsible....for a person.

The thing is, parenting is wonderful, just like marriage. It is it's own kind of journey. But that sweetness of having a child doesn't come without struggle. Those parents who tell you it's without challenge need their heads examined. Of course, it's totally worth it. There are moments when I'm so happy I literally burst into tears. Being a parent has softened me up considerably and I've been surprised about the places in myself I have found.

So here's the analogy: 

Engagement is to marriage what pregnancy is to parenthood. 

It's not something that you can fully comprehend unless you've lived it. And certainly, neither marriage nor parenthood are for everyone (which, by the way, is totally cool). Engagement and pregnancy are the fantasies that give way to the realities that shock and amaze us. Sometimes that shock is good, and other times it forces you to dig within yourself and find the energy to go on, the will to compromise, and the wisdom to shut the hell up. At least that's the way it's been for me.

How has it been for you? Share your experiences with me in the comments section below! 

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