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Though my husband’s and my relationship started off as a swept-off-of-my-feet-type story, the first time I experienced true unconditional love at first sight was when I saw and held my daughter for the first time. The surge of pure, overwhelming, burst-out-of-my-chest love that I felt didn’t hold a candle to any emotion I had ever encountered before. Immediately, our coupledom changed. It changed so quickly. And because it changed as a result of the immeasurable love I felt for our first born in conjunction with healing from my c-section and wincing my way through the first days of nursing, I didn’t even notice. My heart was so full, I didn’t notice my life being devoid of anything except sleep (and comfortable nipples).
Six months later, I found myself holding a positive pregnancy test. We were expecting our second. Life went from learning the ropes of parenthood to being ridden with fatigue and nursing a baby with a huge pregnant belly. Though I was on cloud nine with the birth of our son, my life quickly moved into a whirlwind of sleeplessness, baby vomit, and trying to get ahead of stay on top of the remnants of my toddler’s ‘curiosity’. Though our love and commitment remained steadfast, there were times where it seemed my babies and I were a nucleus and my husband existed on the periphery. I could see all that he did for me; he would go to the grocery store and pick up some of my favourite things even if they weren’t on the list; he would pull me close when I didn’t want to be touched showing he wanted to be close again. I could see his efforts. But because my life with the kids involved so much selflessness, my interactions with him were selfish. I wanted space. I wanted time to myself. I wanted my glass of wine. And I just wanted sleep. In a juxtaposed state of utter selflessness and wanting to be selfish, I could have mistakenly thought we could exist without him. As long as we had instrumental help at the end of a workday, we could continue to exist in the state of just my kids and me.
Two things happened that proved how wrong this mentality could have been. First came when my husband was home more after leaving his last job and waiting for his next to start. With the more concentrated ‘Papa time,’ I saw how much my kids would light up as he pulled out blocks, the train set, rolled around on the floor, or offered them junk food I normally wouldn’t let them have. I saw my daughter start expressing the differences between how Mama and Papa say things with pride (I speak English to the kids; he speaks French). The second thing that happened is what really drove everything home for me. Almost six weeks ago, my husband dropped the kids and me off at my parents’ and left to drive across the country for his new job. Due to staying with my parents and brother, I’ve had more help with the kids and household chores than I have before. One might think in having my kids almost perpetually crawling on me, climbing me, and fighting over my lap, I shouldn’t be lonely. I mean, I’m hard-pressed to find a moment I’m ever But, wow is there ever a huge void. Because my two babies made my heart feel so full, nothing else seemed to matter. But my husband is gone and I’m left sitting almost aching for my best friend, my partner, my husband. I realize in his absence, I have a lot of work to do to get our marriage, our family life, and our priorities balanced. But I want to put us first more often than we have. I am so grateful that this time apart is coming to an end very soon. Yet, I’m also very grateful to have had the lesson of what life would be like if it were just my kids and me.