For a long time I’ve been feeling God lay it on my heart to talk about Derek and the type of father he is. I’m not sure why God wants me to – maybe somebody needs to read about, I don’t know – but I put it off for a long time because I wanted to go about this subject matter delicately. I don’t want to air our dirty laundry and I never want people to think my husband isn’t a good man, but I think the growth he’s gone through since having Clementine should be talked about. I think it should be talked about for the same reasons I talk about any difficult subject matter: solidarity and hope for others.
I don’t want to focus on the past too much, but in order to have a good understanding of the growth he’s had then we need to start at the beginning. In the beginning, Derek was working 50+ hours a week, Clementine had colic, and I was sleep deprived and suffering from PPD. This was also a time of us adjusting to losing about 40% of our income. If you can imagine, our household was not a happy one. I felt alone and crazy. Derek, Mr. Completely Even Tempered, had a very hard time understanding my feelings, if I even communicated them at all.
To keep it light and vague, I like to say that neither of us transitioned into parenthood well. We both had a lot of unrealistic expectations, on top of me dealing with PPD. It was without a doubt the hardest, most grueling time in our marriage. I never knew I would have those types of feelings about my husband.
The turning point in our journey as parents was about a year ago. The school year was winding down to a close and my sleep deprivation was at an all time high. Our previous sleep arrangement of bed sharing was no longer working, as I was being woken up about every 45 minutes. During the day Clementine was an overtired mess. I was struggling to communicate my feelings to Derek and had the bright idea of writing him a letter. It was perfect – I’d be able to organize my feelings and make it succinct. I then pondered how I was going to get the eggs into the shape of a piece of paper so I could write on them.
Yes, I was trying to figure out how to get multiple eggs into a rectangle so I could write my letter on them. I pondered this for about 45-60 seconds before I realized. I knew I desperately needed sleep then. I got eight hours of sleep the next day while Derek pulled an all nighter and I woke up an entirely new woman.
Things have steadily improved since then. We’ve both learned to communicate our expectations and desires better. We’ve fallen into a daily routine that works well for our family. We’ve prioritized the things and tasks that are important to our family and have learned to let go. It took a lot of really difficult and sad conversations, with lots of apologizing and forgiveness. It takes several intentional choices that we make for each other daily. Above all, it took a lot of prayer, for each other, for ourselves, and for our union as one.
I learned a lot about my husband during this time. I learned that he can handle a lot and is willing to take it all on in the name of helping me. I learned that I can be vulnerable in front of him, and not only will he comfort me, but he will love me afterward. I learned that I can call him far beyond his comfort level and he will succeed.
And lately, I’ve learned that I wouldn’t be the mom I am today without him. Because of Derek, I have harmony in my life. I don’t feel like I’m suffocating under a mountain of unattainable expectations or that I’m staring down a mile long to-do list. Because he is an equal parent and contributes to our household in meaningful ways other than financially, I don’t live in a state of constantly being overwhelmed. Because of the hard work we put in, I have time to invest in myself as a woman. I have time to blog, bullet journal, run my Mary Kay business, and regularly practice my makeup skills.
Is Derek perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. Therefore, our marriage isn’t perfect. But the difference from a year ago to now is staggering.
I thank God for the work He has done in us and our marriage so that we can be the parents Clementine needs.
In case anyone is wondering, I was going to scramble the eggs, bake them in a sheet pan, and then cut it into fourths.