Man, Woman, Child(ren)

Weekly column
In the weeks before our first baby was due to arrive, I started to worry about how this child’s birth was going to change our lives. Having a baby would be a wonderful and exciting adventure, I knew, but the one fear that nagged me was how a child would affect my relationship with my husband.

I loved Paul so much, and I was afraid that once the baby came, I wouldn’t have enough space in my heart to love two people so deeply. Of course I already loved a lot of people — my parents and siblings and dear friends — but the deep devotion of marriage was obviously different. When it comes to baby and husband, who would play second fiddle?

One day I voiced my concern to a friend. She had worried about the same thing, she admitted, and was amazed when everything worked out just fine. The love is there, she said, and it is the same, yet totally different. Mysteriously, there is enough love for both.

Indeed, I soon found out, there was.

When our first son was born, I quickly discovered a deep and intense love for my baby that did not diminish any of my feelings for my husband. These powerful emotions were somehow equal and entirely different.

A few years later, when baby number two was set to arrive, I found those same fears creeping in. I had enough love in my heart for my husband and our son; I didn’t want to push it. How could I manage still more of this deep love?

Amazingly, the love was there, and it continues to be for each of the boys we have added since. I have found the answer is still true – there is always enough love to go around.

In the midst of this, of now having five boys that fill our lives, I am delighted when I realize the difference in my relationship with my husband. My love for Paul has indeed changed over the years – in the most beautiful, positive way. I love him more now than I ever imagined possible.

The beautiful mystery of family life is that having children can deepen spousal love and devotion. Despite adding chaos to the mix of your life, it is still possible to move forward in your marriage, to have a more profound understanding and love for your spouse than before.

Sadly, one look at mainstream media gives the impression that having children is actually the end of the marriage. So many movies and television shows portray parents as just barely hanging on, as people whose better years (and sex life) ended as soon as junior entered the scene.

Spousal indifference is certainly a possible side effect of having children. When children come into family life, they obviously need time and attention. It can be very easy to get so wrapped up in the role of parent that you forget about your spouse.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having kids doesn’t demand that your spouse head to the back burner indefinitely; parenthood doesn’t automatically signal the end of marriage.

Not that this always comes easily. If I only ran on emotions and feelings, things would have gone downhill a long time ago.

One recent afternoon, I was folding laundry and feeling tired. I started making a list of all the ways things could be better around here. I was thinking about how I could be shown more love, and while some of it was legit, much of the list consisted of some very nit picky items. I thought better of typing it up.

In married life, a husband and wife can always strive to be better – to be more to their spouse, to find ways to show love. But there is also the reverse of that, the part of married life that learns to simply appreciate the beauty of what God has given you in your spouse, instead of focusing on all the ways he (or she) falls short.

This, I am learning with time, is one of the best ways to live.

Incriminating Evidence

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Little guy totally knows how to maneuver my cellphone.

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On the Dollar Menu

1642 1642_ () 1642 1642 Elliott is earning money to purchase an item, something spectacular that he has been eyeing that I have no plans to purchase for him.

This afternoon, I offered to pay Elliott a dollar to watch Henry while I cooked dinner. He was happy to oblige. Elliott took Henry into the playroom and started setting up blocks.

A few minutes later, Elliott came to me.

“Can you make it two dollars,” he asked, “cause this kid bites.” 1642″> .

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Name That Dog

1641 1641_ () 1641 1641 Last weekend, we got a dog.

Long-time readers might be thinking, “hey, didn’t you already have a dog?” Yes, and no.

We have actually had two dogs. The first, Ruby’s Sweet Hildegarde, got hit by a car when she was a puppy. This was an emotional experience and I didn’t want to end on such a sad note.

A few months later I tracked down another dog that was the same breed and was born at the same time as Hilde. In my mind, we would be essentially picking up where we left off.

Unfortunately, getting a six-month-old puppy that had been living in the owner’s backyard proved to be a behavior challenge we could never overcome. Gertie, our second GSP, basically tortured our boys. After months of expensive obedience classes and working around the clock with this dog, I had to bring her back to the breeder. Paul was sad to see her go — she had shaved minutes off his mile during their daily run. But Gertie was just more dog than we could handle and I hate to say it but while I missed the idea of her, I never looked back after she was gone.

A few months ago we started talking about getting another dog. Henry had fallen in love with some puppies down the street and every single day he wanted to go visit them. My other boys had been wanting a dog, too, and I started to explore the best breeds for our family. In the end we narrowed it down to two breeds: a Brittany and a Boykin Spaniel. A few days later we discovered that some dear friends had a Brittany that needed a new home.

So, here she is, our new dog. She is about a year-and-a-half and while she still has a lot of puppy tendencies, she is proving herself to be wonderful for our family. Although I think she’s a little freaked out by Henry’s lack of cooth.

The previous owners named the dog “Red” and we haven’t decided if we want to keep the name. Charlie suggested I have a “blog contest” to see if you, dear reader, have a suggestion. I have offered Ruby, and Chick Norris and also Greta (because it sounds like “Red” a bit) but so far the boys haven’t heard a name that really grabs them.

We might just stick with Red, but I’m wondering what you think.

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