They’re Small, How Much Trouble Could They Cause?

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Nothing outside of the marriage it-self can cause as much stress in a relationship as children. It’s not their fault. They are small and innocent, and to some extent, you train them how to treat you. It’s just the nature of nature. You bring these cute little bundles of joy into the world and become responsible for them for the next eighteen years. Everything changes, including your relationship with your spouse. Some changes are good, some not so much. Let me illustrate.


            We were smart. Crystal and I waited to have children. We had been married five years when Elizabeth came around. I wasn’t worried; Crystal was like the encyclopedia of family issues. She had read every contemporary theory about having children and child rearing. Our relationship was good. We had worked through several early marriage communication issues and had even taken the Lamaze class. When after thirty-four hours of labor and a C-section, Elizabeth was born. We were both unconscious for a while. However, I still remember the overwhelming feeling of pride and joy as I carried her out of the hospital.


            In the weeks and months after that, we found that while we were probably as prepared as possible, there’s a lot about children that the books and classes don’t cover. In the five years BC (before Children) Crystal and I love to travel and stay overnight away from home. We had visited the Ozarks and Florida and had a number of shorter several day or overnight adventures. Being maybe somewhat conservative we stopped traveling before Elizabeth was born. When Elizabeth was one year and four months old, I had had enough. I convinced Crystal it was time for an overnight. When I told her the plan, Crystal was totally on board. We would drive from our Chicago suburb, around the lake to St. Joseph, Michigan. We happily drove the two plus hours to a nice motel near Lake Michigan. Elizabeth of course slept the whole trip. That’s just what she did in the car. It was like magic. We dropped off our stuff and got into our swim suits. At the beach that day things didn’t quite go as planned. Elizabeth loved going into the pool at our complex with me holding her. However, the big, seemingly endless lake, that day had waves almost as big as she was. She would have no part of it. Crystal and I took turns swimming and playing with her on the beach. We went back to the motel for showers and to dress for dinner. Elizabeth took her normal afternoon nap in her playpen. Before dinner we had a nice walk through the city to look at the shops. We had a nice dinner then went back to the motel. It was Elizabeth’s bed time. However, this is where she drew the line. She had been very accommodating until now. We weren’t home, and this motel crib wasn’t her bed. To this day I can still hear the seemingly endless pleas “Home, Bed”, over and over and over again. We tried everything, the play pen, holding her, bringing her in bed, playing with her (that she was fine with). Nothing worked. Finally, around two in the morning, I put my clothes on for the strategy of last resort. I strapped her in her car seat and we went for a drive. Normally she would have been out in about five minutes, but not on this night. She would be stubborn (a trait I later found as part of her personality). The moon was full that August night. I kept looking back. She wasn’t complaining, but really seemed to be enjoying the view of the lake front by night. Finally, at around three AM, she was asleep. I made my way back to the motel. I picked her up and turned toward the motel. I pushed the car door closed as gently as I could. Not quiet enough, she was awake. An hour later she finally fell asleep between the two of us. Of course now she was back on schedule. Up at seven and ready for more adventure. We put on our clothes, ate breakfast, and started home. Crystal insists we picked some peaches on the way, but I couldn’t tell you. I just remember being almost as glad to have survived and getting to “Home, Bed” as Elizabeth.

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