I was reminiscing recently about mine and Dan’s interrailling trip around France a few years ago.
This was a couple of years pre-Darcie and our first backpacking adventure together. We were young, carefree and in cringe worthy love. I’d be lying to you and to myself if I said that I didn’t miss those days. Although at the time we had our own individual difficulties and stresses, looking back I now see that what we had was endless time for each other and for the things that we love, a significant amount of disposable income and basically not a care in the world. There were no responsibilities back then, no reason to worry about getting home late and nothing to stop us from doing exactly what we wanted, when we wanted.
I look back at those days like a montage of a cheesy romantic comedy. Through my rose tinted glasses I see laughing, private jokes, late night box set binges and early mornings cuddles before having to drag ourselves to work. We were one of those couples that didn’t argue, and not because it was bubbling under the surface waiting to explode, we didn’t argue because we had nothing to argue about. We agreed on most things and had enough respect for the other that we were willing to agree to disagree and let things go the rest of the time. We did nice things for each other all the time; we’d plan surprise trips and there would be regular bunches of flowers and lovingly prepared home cooked meals.
During my pregnancy, we grew stronger together. Both figuring out this crazy process of growing a baby and preparing for life as new parents. But you can’t prepare for life as a new parent. You can buy all the equipment and read all the books, but you will never be prepared.
One of the hardest things for me when Darcie first arrived was how much I missed Dan. We had a particularly cuddly baby that didn’t like to be put down, day or night, this meant that at any time either one of us would be holding her which left no time to hold each other. I remember walking to the shop a few days after giving birth, Dan was pushing the pram with one hand and with the other one he reached out and held mine. And I cried. Because it was the first time we’d held hands in what felt like forever. We were doing such a great job at tag teaming parenthood, swapping night shifts and day shifts, making sure Darcie’s every need was attended to, that we had no time or energy left for each other.
Over time that has of course improved. At 18 months old she is a very independent little girl who very rarely graces us with a cuddle and so we have more time for each other again. But it’s never going to be the same: we will never be carefree and in love again. Because now we have the most important thing in the world to care about.
Love post baby isn’t something they can teach you in a class. They don’t tell you that there will be times when you look at the man you created life with and want to murder him for sleeping so peacefully while you breastfeed the baby. They can’t prepare you for the overwhelming amount of decisions and choices that you will have to make together about raising your child. They can’t show you how important it is that you end up on the same page with it all otherwise you’ll be arguing forever.
But through all of this, love does evolve. You see the man you love making your daughter belly laugh so hard you think she’s not going to remember to breathe. You see the man you love cuddling her when she’s sad or hurt or sick. He tells her he loves her and you see in her eyes how much she loves him too. No one can prepare you for that feeling. The feeling of overwhelming joy and love that between the pair of you you have created the most perfect thing alive. And that it is your responsibility and privilege to get to raise her together. Post baby love is more meaningful, it’s sturdier and it’s more robust. Pre-baby love barely scratched the surface.
So yes, I do miss the old us. I have days when I wish that we could just drop everything and go backpacking around a beautiful country, together with no reason to even think of home. But I wouldn’t actually go back to that for the world. Being young and carefree and in cringeworthy love is a spectacular thing and I’m glad we had it but it can’t last forever, it has to evolve and change and grow. Having a baby brings you closer than you could ever imagine. You have a new bond, a tiny, perfect, cuddly bond that can never be broken. As much as the bad days can be hard and you can wistfully long for your pre-baby relationship back. The good days always make it worth it again.