Mama, coach and yoga teacher Claire Obeid shares how we can nurture our relationship when parenting feels all consuming.
One thing’s for sure: it will never be the same again.
That bubble of just the two of you is gone forever, as one baby, and then maybe another and another, are added to your life.
It’s a beautiful thing – and a whole new beginning.
But as the new family continues to grow over the years, how do you ensure you keep something for the two of you? How do you nurture the changing relationship, in the midst of parenting?
Mama to two (three year old Soleil and, as of the time of writing this, a new baby now one week overdue and waiting to enter this world!), meditation teacher and coach, Claire Obeid beautifully reflects here on how her marriage has evolved since that first baby arrived, and how she’s learning to reframe what a long term relationship looks like.
I was going to say ‘MESS’ but actually, it was that crazy, beautiful kind of mess that, when I look back on, I feel all sorts of gratitude for.
Tears frequently poured down my cheeks. I think I tapped deep down into the Divine Feminine energy within me – an energy that all of us hold, but often never get to access. Birth was a rite of passage in so many ways, and main-lining into my feminine energy was definitely one of the more unexpected, juicy perks.
I couldn’t help but feel all the feels. The love that poured out of me was on a level that my tiny little human self didn’t know how to contain. So contain it did not! It bubbled up and exploded out of me at any given moment, unannounced.
This might sound odd, but the love I felt the most in those first 2-4 weeks was actually for my husband. Yes, I did feel it for little Soleil – how could I not? Such a precious little soul that had chosen me as a her mama. But, and I mean this with love, she was also at the centre of so much change, confusion and anxiety that I almost felt, at times, a little disconnected from that love too. I almost had to disconnect to cope.
But for Chris? Oh man… the love choked me up. BIG time. I would simply look at him and become a puddle of love. Sobbing, literally with gratitude for his patience, presence, love. For the man that held my hand whilst I moaned and Omm’d my way through labour. For being my rock and not flinching despite his own shock and fears. For falling in love with Soleil. For waking with me at feed times at all hours of the night. For rubbing my back and telling me I was doing a good job. For all of it, and none of it. For him. Just him.
And with every one of those tears I was fully aware that we had entered a new age in our relationship.
We would never look at each other in the same way. Changed, forever at the core.
Eventually, I did stop crying. The tears eased back a little as I found my groove with the man that was no longer just my husband but the man who made me a mama. The man who would forever guide, nurture and support my baby. The man who I had to completely and utterly surrender into for strength and support.
I went from an independent woman, running my own business, calling in my own dreams, chasing my desires, living in alignment with my feelings. Doing life my way. To the complete reverse. I had to lean on Chris for everything because ALL of me was being poured into Soleil.
And not only that but we both had to factor in another human being and her needs into the mix – despite the lack of knowledge on the matter. Clueless and sleep deprived we, like all new parents, had to navigate the chaos of feeding, changing, settling, and everything in between.
When you are sleep deprived beyond recognition and the former you is nowhere to be seen it’s easy to hit fever pitch. Anxiety is the norm, frustrations high. Expectations unmet. It was often tough to accept the destabilisation that was parenthood.
Going from a couple that never fought to one that was clashing daily shook us up. I’m not going to sugar coat it – muddled in with the love, cuddles and overwhelming joy we also experienced so much disruption and disconnection too. Parenthood makes you question so much of yourself, those around you, how you were parented and who you want to be as a parent – throw another person and their beliefs and feelings into the mix AND no sleep for weeks on end. Well, it wasn’t always roses.
We re-calibrated, we found a new way of communicating and communing and connecting. We learnt to stop referencing the past and to be responsive in the presence. We discovered a deeper level of respect for each other’s perspective – realising there is no right way, only different ways.
Working together made everything ‘work’. And we both had to surrender into the roles that were being clearly defined and we were clearly called into.
Chris had to take on the role of primary bread-winner (for a period of time). I had to take over the home and hearth. Soleil’s needs were the only thing that mattered. She, our little sun, at the centre of our universe as we circumnavigated her. We both had to and still do sacrifice so much to satisfy those needs. And that sacrifice also required us to become even more aware of each other’s needs. If I noticed Chris was in need of some time out with his mates or something just for him I would find a way to make that a reality. As he would for me.
I recall, so clearly the first time I had to ask Chris for money.
It was months into motherhood, when the paternity leave funds had dried up and I had used all my savings. I wasn’t coaching or creating. We’d never shared a bank account and although we were both generous with our earnings there was a clear distinction between his and hers.
I look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of my anxiety to ask for money. To once again be vulnerable and voice that I needed him, in a way I never had. He didn’t flinch, nor did he care, but in that moment I knew I had to (again) recalibrate my understanding of ‘us’ and what it means to allow someone to hold you in every way. And to be OK with that.
Over and over we’ve had to retune our love, our level of support, our empathy and connection and compassion for each other. And the levels that our relationship soar to each time is a beautiful thing that I’m honoured to experience.
Gone are the days of long, decadent dinners and date nights. Or lazy mornings at the beach reading and sipping on smoothies before rolling home to bbq on the balcony. No longer do we spend countless hours mooching and movie watching. In fact, as I’m writing this I’m truly struggling to remember what we did with our time… because the dynamic and push-pull of our relationship now as a parents is so FULL and simply beautiful that ‘before’ doesn’t seem so special anymore.
I know that one day Soleil (and her future sibling) will grow up healthy, happy, adventurous and full of magic. They will go out into the world and Chris and I will be together. My vision is to be holding the hand of the man I love, proud of all we have done to guide our babies with love and consciousness.
And together we will go back out into the world, having emerged from our ‘baby cave’ and ready to create a new kind of magic together.
It’s because of this vision that I’m committed to honouring HIM, our relationship and to feeding and fuelling the love between us.
Because one day we won’t be so defined by parenthood and our babies won’t need us so much. And when that day happens, the love we have absolutely must be strong and burning steadily, like a warm fire you want to hold your hands up too.