I was really quite sad to read the news that Olympic swimmer and recently turned Reality TV star Rebecca Adlington and her husband of 18 months had decided to separate. Sad but not all that surprised.
Rebecca and her estranged husband Harry, welcomed their first child 6 months ago. Rebecca has been incredibly candid about how the demands of parenting have applied pressure to her marriage, often resulting in arguments between the couple.
When I first read this admission, a small, knowing smile broke across my face.
I wasn’t smiling because I was happy, I was smiling because I could’ve written or spoke about that subject myself. And more than likely worded it exactly how Rebecca did. My smile was a ‘would be nod’ in agreement for I knew exactly what she meant.
The one thing I don’t think I was prepared for when I welcomed my son into the world almost two and a half years ago, was the monumental change it would have on my relationship.
I believe, that many expectant parents often harbour the opinion that their relationship will solidify when 2 becomes 3. It will strengthen the bond and their relationship will go from strength to strength. I guess, in some cases, to an extent that it is the truth. There are moments when you become parents where you look at each other and have nothing but respect for one another and the amazing life you’ve both created. The ‘wow, did me and you really create something so incredibly beautiful and perfect’ look.
However, it’s not all hearts and flowers. Often far from it in fact.
My partner and I were together almost 3 years when we became parents in 2013. We’d been engaged for a year and co-habiting for just over 18 months. We were pretty solid as a couple, happy and content with each other and strongly of the opinion that this was it for us. We were going to be together forever.
I don’t mind admitting here, that since I became a Mum, I’ve had moments, brief but definite moments where I’ve been so tired, so bone crushingly tired that I’ve had enough of the odd argument we’ve been embroiled in and thought to myself…is this really worth it anymore? Do I really want to be in a relationship?
There I said it.
And I know for a fact my other half has had moments where he has thought the same too.
Those first 2 years or so of parenthood are bloody difficult. Everyone says it but until you’re in it, I don’t think you can fully appreciate it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I was totally naïve when I was about to embark on parenthood. I did not have a clue what was waiting for me around the corner. I honestly don’t think either of us did.
I’ve been candid about how I would like to have another child one day in the near(ish) future and how Wes; my partner doesn’t. He is staunch in his opinion that we only have one child.
Because I had Post Natal Depression and Anxiety, this put a huge amount of stress and strain on our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, Wes was amazing, an absolutely incredible support; especially when I was formally diagnosed and a treatment plan was put into place. However, that doesn’t negate the impact such an experience can have on your relationship.
We all know that when we’re feeling tired and exhausted this has an effect on our mood. It stands to reason doesn’t it really. This is where I found the disagreements and arguments would begin. “You had more sleep than I did last night”. “Well, I did 2 night feeds the night before”. “I got up last night, it’s your turn tonight” “I’ve been up since 5am” are 4 statements both Wes and I have muttered to each other over the last 2 or so years. Often through gritted teeth with perhaps a slight snarl!
Disagreeing on discipline is something that can also cause tempers to fray slightly.
My Mum always warned me that discipline was the hardest part of parenting for her (don’t know why, I was an Angel(!)) and while I would’ve said weaning for me a year ago, now my son is in the midst of the Terrible Two’s; I have to agree with her! One parent might have one method they’re keen to promote, while the other doesn’t want to go down that avenue. Throw tiredness into the mix, along with a screaming ‘twoligan’ (credit to a FB friend of mine for that one – I love it) and a house that is in desperate need of a deep clean then of course arguments are bound to brew.
Our relationship has changed almost beyond recognition. Gone are the lazy days of watching films, drunken holidays and spur of the moment weekend or evening plans and for the first year of being a parent, I found that a really hard change to get my head around.
Of course, things get better in time and you adapt and move on. And while our relationship doesn’t resemble the one we had B.C (Before Child) we’ve adapted and have tried to ensure we make time for each other to have a chat or to go out for a few drinks and a meal every so often. That definitely helps.
One thing that has certainly helped us stay together is the fact that first and foremost Wes and I are great friends. We have the exact same sense of humour (random, sarcastic and very weird!) and 90% of the time we make a really great team. I’ve now got my head around the transition from boyfriend/girlfriend to Mum and Dad and the bottom line of it for me is, there is absolutely no one else in this world that I would want to be the Father to my child(ren).
No, not even you Tom Hardy.