A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton

Everyone warned us it would happen. We believed them, but never really understood the full effect until we experienced it for ourselves. Children change everything! Just a few short months ago, Reed entered our lives and, like everyone predicted, we will never be the same.

Virtually overnight, our lifestyle changed. Gone are the days of taking off on a whim. It’s hard to be spontaneous when you have to pack three bags in order to leave the house for one hour. We spend a lot more time at home now, which, incidentally, has changed too. Decorating is a passion of mine, but I can see it will have to take a backseat for a few years. Reed isn’t even crawling yet and already our house is strewn with toys, blankets and tiny clothing. I’ve tried to disguise the baby mess with well-placed containers. Martha Stewart and my mother taught me that you can hide almost any clutter in a basket. But it’s not easy to hide a Diaper Genie. Believe me––I’ve tried.

Our free time has also taken a hit. Any scheduling must revolve around Reed’s highly demanding eating and napping routine. Further, I can’t make even simple plans without checking with Ryan first, and he has to do the same for me. We have to build in an additional hour to get ready to go anywhere, and that’s not factoring in emergency time for a possible diaper blowout.

Finally, and probably most drastically, our relationship has been transformed by this little ball of joy and responsibility. We are often so busy trying to keep Reed’s and our own basic needs met, that it’s easy to neglect each other. I came to that realization recently after a rather substantial argument.

Even though we have both been spending more time at home together than before, I was feeling lonely. We were both present and very involved in Reed’s care, but neither of us had really taken the time to care for the other. In short, we were putting so much time and energy into nurturing our little one that we had nothing left to nurture our marriage. What could be more important to our son’s well-being than growing up in a healthy, intact family? We made a commitment right then to devote time to maintain our marriage. Then we scheduled a date night. After all, if it ain’t broke, it still needs oiling and tuning up.

Everyone tells us it will get easier. Reed won’t be nursing every two hours forever. In a few months, we’ll be more comfortable leaving him with a babysitter occasionally so we can find time to do some of the things we used to enjoy together.

Eventually, potty training will make those pesky diaper changes a thing of the past. Of course, by then it’ll be time to think about Baby Number Two.

A seasoned perspective…
Deborah Raney

Graduation is always a poignant time of year for me. Especially so, now that—after almost three decades of being hands-on parents—the empty nest is screaming down on my husband and me. Three short years from now our youngest will graduate from high school and we’ll be facing the end—the very end—of our parenting years.

How is it possible that we’re so quickly arriving at this time of our lives? Wasn’t it only yesterday we were changing diapers and getting up groggy-eyed for those middle-of-the-night feedings? Or bemoaning the fact that we never had a moment to ourselves and that all our income was gobbled up by teenagers guzzling the gas in our vehicles, sporting adult-sized appetites and wearing adult-sized (and adult-priced) clothes?