As mothers, we are inhumanly incredible at times, to put it simply. We do the circus act that only a mother could handle.
We run around the house doing our finest multi-tasking, at times with a baby on our back, one in our arms, while using our "free hand" to pick up the trail of toys that lays scattered in your path. And when your free hand isn't "free", no worries, we have become experts at using our feet to kick, scoot and even pick up things.
But when we are full force, diving into Mommy mode, what about our partner? You have committed to each other and are 'works in progress' with a lifetime contract.
But with that, takes patience, love, commitment, and tons of hard work. If it was easy, everyone would do it and everyone's relationship would last.
Frankly, and sadly, it's much easier to throw in the towel than to push through and do the hard work and daily maintenance that your partner and relationship require to thrive.
But coming from a mother with three, young children who constantly need and rely on me, not to mention I teach 20 young children every day, what does that leave for my husband? And if my marriage suffers, do my children suffer as well?
If a couple who has children together think back to the time before they became parents, life was very much different. You held hands to and from the car.
You finished each other's sentences which obviously indicates, you were so in-tune with one another and got to finish each of your heart felt, in depth conversations, no matter how long they needed to last.
You slept together, in more than one way, and on the weekends, slept in for as long as you pleased.
You left each other cute notes around the house and throughout the day sent one another romantic texts and emails about how you can't wait to get home to just be together again for the work day seems far too long.
Now, there is constant chaos, lots of clutter, and unending noise.
Instead of holding each other's hand, you're struggling to manage carrying the diaper bag, hold a baby, wipe another kid's nose, while attempting to manage the cell phone, keys and purse in the other hand, all the while snapping your fingers at another toddler who is trying to run away from you across the parking lot.
The cute notes have turned into emails and texts throughout the day on how many diaper changes the baby has had and what the other needs to grab at the grocery store.
The long, thoughtful conversations that used to happen over dinner are now trying to shout over the babies and toddlers screaming and throwing their food, and finally, you officially give up and say, "I'll shoot you an email or text tomorrow to tell you about it."
It's inevitable, life changes after you bring a baby into the world and into your relationship. It changes a lot.
But what happens when we devote all of our time and energy into being the best parent we can be and our partner, naturally, and rightfully so, feels neglected? Does that, in turn, at some point down the road, affect your parenting, individually and co-parenting as a team?
If you hadn't already guessed, the answer is absolutely, without a doubt.
But how do we "fix" this?
Unfortunately, I don't think there is. After never-ending research and many disappointments, I have come to find that there isn't just a band aid to put over the seeping wounds that need loved and cared for.
It takes a daily surrendering of oneself to be the partner you need to be.
Are the children fed? Are they changed? Are they warm and safe and sound? If all these areas are met, can you sneak 5 minutes of attention towards your partner to ask and truly listen about their day? Can you surprise them by going out of your way to wait on them, hand and foot, even if just for a few minutes, to make sure they have what they need and they are taken care of?
Some may ask, how does this tie into making me a better mother? How will me taking less time from my children but how will this make my partner and I better parents?
As far-fetched as this may seem, it's actually glaringly apparent as to how this is the case: a better relationship between partners generates a better relationship with your children.
It's a proven fact that our children feed off of their environment.
Our children feed off our moods, our words, our actions, as well as our interactions. They look to us to see what love is, and hopefully we not only say it, but show it. Actions speak alarmingly louder than words.
We've all heard the saying, "A happy wife is a happy life." And I have to say, I agree completely, but likewise, a happy marriage equals a happy family.
Sometimes it's not about how compatible we are, year after year, change after change, but how we deal with the incompatibility.
I came across a quote once that said any marriage over a week old, there are grounds for a divorce; the trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.
The truth is, it's never equal, when one is giving 80 percent, the other might only be giving 20 percent.
At times, it may come out to be each giving a 50/50 and yes, you will find yourself battling within your relationship as you are giving 100 percent while your partner isn't capable of giving anything.
As unfair as this is, we should thank God that one of us is able to hold on tight enough for the both of you. The silver lining and advantage of one falling out of love with the other, it keeps you together until you fall again.
Undoubtedly, a happy, thriving, healthy relationship between parents, will manifest happy, thriving, healthy children.
Life is not perfect. Marriage is not perfect. Relationships are not perfect. Parenting is not perfect.
But it's a matter of taking those imperfections, staring them straight in the face, and trying to make them a little less imperfect tomorrow.
Rome wasn't built in a day. All we can ask of our children, and ourselves, is baby steps. Meaningful, determined, sincere, baby steps. And think of the difference we can potentially make over time.
Remember: children are amazing imitators. Give them something or someone to imitate.
Long is a local author and mother of three.
Her column is published on the first and third Sunday of each month.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.