You could say that I had a tiny bit of anxiety about the birth of our son Ethan. Medical stuff freaked me out, and I’d already fainted twice just from hearing childbirth described. The thought of caring for a baby was equally intimidating.
What if I dropped him? What if I didn’t hold him right? What if I bounced him too hard?
Right at the peak of my anxieties, Megan Tietz generously offered to give me a free copy of her new co-written book Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year. My wife and I read it and have often referred back to it before and after the birth of Ethan.
I can’t recommend this book enough, and so I’m delighted to welcome Megan Tietz to write a guest post today:
Laura and I are so grateful to Ed for opening up this space for us today. In April, we released Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year, and right now we are traveling around to some of our favorite blogs hosting a book club discussion.
We were six years into marriage when our oldest child came along.
Marriage and parenting are often inextricably intertwined. From the monkey bars on the playgrounds of childhood, we learn that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Susie with a baby carriage.
In adulthood, we learn that nothing in life is ever that simple. We all have our own unique stories of partnering with the parents of our children. Sometimes we aren’t married. Sometimes baby #1 is a "honeymoon baby." Sometimes we wait a decade or more before plunging into parenting.
Whatever your story of partnering in parenting might be, we all share some common threads. In the chapter called "As We Parent Together," Laura and I spend a lot of time dealing with a false dichotomy that has arisen amongst beliefs about family in life in church culture – a dichotomy that insists that one must give precedence to either your spouse or your children.
We disagree with that idea whole-heartedly, and we propose a new paradigm for followers of Christ to pursue as they navigate parenthood together. But we were inspired by Ed’s series "First Draft Father" and so we chose instead to focus today’s discussion on the challenges that new parenthood brings to marriage – from a dad’s perspective.
I asked my husband, Kyle, to share some thoughts on what he remembers as being the biggest challenges to work through when – after six years of marriage – we began the season of parenting together. Here are some of his thoughts:
The thing I remember most from those days was that everything felt a little scary. And chaotic, especially at first. I don’t handle being scared very well and I definitely like for everything to be very orderly, so I ended up being very tense about everything. And if I recall, you were more than a little tense, too, right?
At the time, there was just so much I didn’t know how to do, and because of the job I had at the time, I didn’t have time to do all the research that I thought I should do to be a good dad, and so I more or less left a lot of the parenting stuff to you when Dacey was a baby.
And then there was one time when you actually left her with me for a few hours, and you also left a long list of rules and instructions.
I know you were trying to be helpful, but it made me think you didn’t trust me with our own child. That caused me to question how much you trusted me with other things in our life.
I remember the biggest challenge to our marriage during that time was that taking care of our baby was very all-consuming for you at the time. I still tell people that the best thing we did for our marriage during that time was to implement the early bedtime routine. Dacey was in bed by 6:00 or 6:30 every night, and that gave us plenty of time for dates-at-home and space for us to just be ourselves again.
Finally, when we acknowledged that we both bring our very unique personalities to parenting, that helped a lot, too. As we’ve watched our children grow up, it’s been very rewarding to see them take after each of us (mostly the good things). And early bedtimes are still very helpful.
I used to be afraid that having a baby would change everything about our marriage. And then we had a baby and everything changed – not just in marriage, but our whole worlds. But looking back, there is no doubt we are stronger because of working through the challenges that parenting brings.
In the chapter on marriage, we ask
What if the upheaval and uncertainty parenting brings could be redeemed into an undeniable opportunity to grow closer to Christ and closer to one another?
We suggest that
One of the most beautiful aspects of a healthy marriage is the way it is always evolving, shifting to meet the needs of both spouses, allowing them to move forward with clasped hands and interwoven hearts. The months of parenting an infant together are ripe with opportunity to grow even closer to the person you have pledged your love and life to through the covenant of marriage. — p. 117, Spirit-Led Parenting
There are, indeed, many drafts of the chapters on parenting in the lives of our family. And we’ve been delighted to discover in the past eight years that the writing of God’s heart for family life is clearly evident as we write these new chapters together.
We would love to hear from you! How has parenting challenged your marriage? How has the season of parenting allowed you and your spouse to grow closer together?
Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Larua Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.