It’s close to 7:30 p.m., and I just spoke to my husband on the phone 20 minutes ago. “I’m on the way home,” he’d said. A line I am all too familiar with, and even though it doesn’t sound very long, I know I am in for a lifetime of waiting within those 20 minutes.

As soon as I hear his footsteps on the doorstep, I breathe out a sigh of relief and am ready to throw in the towel. “They’re all yours!” I exclaim as I storm off into the bathroom for momentary silence.

A familiar scene of two ships passing in the night, throwing each other the parenting baton to signal that it is no longer our turn to take care of the brood.

A long time ago, I met my husband, we dated and fell in love and of course committed ourselves to a lifetime together. Children were always included in the grand plan, but the reality of becoming parents hadn’t dawned on us. Everyone says parenting is tough, and they’re right. Parenting is hard. It is a constant uphill battle where your body defaults into “sink or swim” mode.

Remembering that you are married, as parents, is even harder.

There are often times where we run through this cycle of just getting through things together that the most important reasons we began this journey together soon become forgotten underneath the pile of laundry on the couch.

I once read about the “stages” of marriage and I have seen the product of this in almost every marital relationship of family and friends. Moments and seasons where we peak and hit the high notes in tune and then moments where we keep our heads down and trudge through the trenches of whatever life may be throwing at us at that time. Through all of this though, we’ve never walked away. We’ve never surrendered with a white flag or tapped our time out of the ring.

There is something about parenting that can bring out sides of ourselves which we held at bay for so long. Relationships are tested, and marriage becomes yet another thing to just make it through.

I wanted more than that, and I know my husband did, too. It was going to take more than tag-teaming the child-rearing responsibilities for us to push past this point and redefine exactly what marriage meant to us. We are more than parents. We were friends. We were lovers. We were partners in crime and companions for life. This was all before we became parents.

We have all heard of the term self-sacrifice, and as parents—and particularly as mothers—we put the well-being and opportunities for our children above and beyond everything else. We are fierce and protective in nature, fighting to give our children the best chance in this game of life. What we don’t realize, however, is that part of our self that were sacrificing is also that self that makes up the other half of a marriage.

At one stage, I had both children in soccer, martial arts, and swimming which meant one free evening a week and that was usually spent falling asleep to reruns on Netflix rather than having that meaningful conversation with my husband. It becomes a juggling act of who can manage the most before we wore ourselves down.

It can be incredibly difficult to take a moment during the chaos of it all and to breathe, remembering why it is you got married in the first place. Once upon a time, I chose him and although fairytales rarely do exist, I do believe in the bond and commitment of marriage. Instead of embodying a rival war ship, I decided to become his beacon of light, guiding his ship home into the night.

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Mariel Hanna

I am a mama of two young boys with a thirst for writing and sharing my journey of motherhood, living with lupus and inspiring other women to own their dreams.