Of course when it's your own baby you take all this and begrudge them nothing as they gently take over every aspect of your life, including your relationship.
Now it's fair to say that The Fergatron and I had a tempestuous relationship before we had a baby. We are both stubborn, opinionated and it's fair to say we are willing to hold a grudge for a long time. It was always bound to be a fiery relationship but we balance it out with a similar approach to the world and a genuine love of light-hearted whimsy, silliness and wanting to just have a nice time. We had to work at it at times, and developed coping mechanisms. We loved each other almost straight away but unlike in a poem real love doesn't account for day to day life and peoples various personal issues. Anyway, it was always going to fun and frustrating and it has always been a good balance of both (in my view).
So enter Lizzy Face. Before we go on I cannot stress enough how much I dote on Lizzy, indeed it’s a possible root of some of our current problems that we both put her first, but that doesn't detract from the fact that she has had an impact on our relationship. Initially I think it's hard welcoming a baby. New-born babies are just as scared and confused as new-born parents. You are all united in your bumbling attempts to work out what's going on. There is an advantage though to being a Father, we (generally) go back to work and back to a large part of our old lives and all of a sudden the new mum is at home, alone with a baby..... What next?
Fergatron has made some lovely friends in our new area, so she has not been completely alone a fact for which I am very grateful, but for Fergatron and many others real life takes on a whole new meaning. Without the benefit of a regular job and colleagues to talk to life revolves around the baby and the house which is why, 8 months in, our protagonists have become a little stuck in the monotony of the day to day.
For The Fergotron it is a matter of pride to be able to keep the house running and Lizzy Face happy (as mentioned in previous posts) and it is fair to say that at the start I, as many other dads did not want to question the new mum. She should do what works for her. I think all new dads feel disempowered to say and do anything, we are told throughout that the mum's opinion matters the most and in some ways that is true. I wish I had put my foot down much sooner though and made us leave Lizzy and regain some of our previous life.
I didn't; and then for a while we started to drift apart. I went to work, I came home, Fergotron had chores to do that lasted into the evening and I left her to it believing I was helping by taking LizzyFace off her hands so she could finish them. I would sometimes ask her to stop, come and sit with us but she had things to do and knowing that she - and others- would feel like a failure if she had not managed all these things I would sigh a little and let it go.
Then, a little while ago I thought about a motto my Director has at work. I'm not one for corporate sayings but I realised that this one is very apt. We train our staff to choose 'People over process'; that is, that when a person approaches we stop what we are doing and engage the person.
People over process is fast becoming the motto of our house (overtaking many a Star Wars quote). It is very easy to get bogged down with new parenthood and find yourself trying so hard to manage every aspect of your new life that you forget the old one and with it you lose your old relationship. Of course a relationship is bound to change and in many ways holding on too tightly to your previous life is just as destructive as forgetting it entirely - but our relationship was based on fun, affection, banter and conversation and somewhere along the line we have lost sight of this.
If you are reading this you have probably gone through a similar thing, perhaps you are going through it now. Try to remember why you were together in the first place. A baby is a wonderful thing, but it can be a huge destructive force upon a relationship if you let it. Having a baby doesn't mean you have to completely change and if you do feel that you must in public (which is understandable) then ensure you remember in private why you like each other. Put down the baby, leave the dishes till later and let the washing stay on the line all night. Say hello to each other, talk about something other than nappies and feeding schedules.
You might feel like you're too far down the line, you might not even have noticed - I assure you it crept up on us slowly, but it's not too late. It's not easy, and it won’t work every time and some days you will have to force yourself to do it but at some point during the day, when you hear the key in the door or when you see a job that needs to be done or even if you just see your partner having a tough time recite to yourself, like we are now trying to:
"People Over Process"