Joel eased himself out of bed this morning at the sound of his alarm. He has been making efforts to get out of bed when his alarm first sounds so as not to wake us. He carefully gathered his things and gave me a sweet kiss and snuggle before he closed the door to our room.  What a sweet memory to carry with us throughout the day.

If only our interactions this morning ended there.  Not long after, Finn woke and we joined Daddy in the kitchen for breakfast. What should have been savoury extra time together instead became tainted with bursts of my irritation as we got in each other’s way in preparing for our respective breakfasts. Mama was clearly not ready for this earlier start to the day, despite normally (pre-Finn) being the chatty morning person.  So Joel’s last memory of me and this home became of him tiptoeing around to avoid setting me off. How heartbreaking.

 

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Was cherishing my husband not my New Year resolution?  How soon I forget.

 

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After he left I sat over my hot oatmeal and English Breakfast tea reflecting on why I far too frequently become the grumbly bear in our relationship.  I’m tired, without doubt. Breastfeeding and caring for Finn leaves me insatiably hungry — and when left unchecked I can muster a mean hangry as a result. But I’m also an adult and should better manage my emotions and ways that I interact — especially with the person who means most to me.  They say you are hardest on those you love, but does it have to be that way?

 

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Having a child wildly rearranges your life, priorities, and perspective.  It’s not only mothers who experience this transformation, but fathers as well. That’s right; we both created this life from our love, and so it should be our love foremost that we cultivate. Easy enough to say, but without putting this belief into practice, we’re just setting ourselves up for a recycling of harsh words and hurtful moments.  It does take two, but that one partner forgets from time to time doesn’t give us an excuse to both shake off our duty to love one another.

 

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Practicing presence in our interactions could make me mindful of moments when my irritability could result in snappy comments.  Better than that, practicing gratitude will remind me of the incredible partner I chose for myself and father I chose for my children.  He is quick to fill our basket with love and affection.  He is supportive of my dreams and patiently listens so as to understand the me underlying what everyone else sees. Best of all, he is so easy to love; it should simply rain on him ceaselessly.

 

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More than cultivating love for my partner, it’s hard not to think of our life through the lens of our quickly growing child.  As Finn forms his first impressions of love and partnership, what examples do we want to make for him?  What kind of expectation do we want him to have of his own marriage. What do we value and wish to normalize for our son as he begins to interact with others and develop his own relationships?  Why the kind that explodes with well-intentioned and heart-warming goodness, of course.

What do we value and wish to normalize for our son as he begins to interact with others and develop his own relationships?  Why the kind that explodes with well-intentioned and heart-warming goodness, of course.

So, for the good of my husband’s — and my own — happiness I will cultivate and grow love in the garden of our relationship.  He can harvest what he needs any time the outside world breathes famine at our door. For our son, I’ll show him tolerance and acceptance and starve off judgement, harsh words and pettiness.  In those hard moments, I will reach deep and find patience.  Practicing gratitude, I expect, will remind me how very lucky I am to share my life with not one, but two incredible Giles guys.  In this way I can do away with the guilt that follows and benefit from the happiness myself.  A worthwhile daily practice to maintain for the good of our family.

 


 

Photography by Joanna Crichton