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Challenge: Romance After Kids

A Different Kind of Love: How becoming parents changed us

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You've heard the phrases a thousand times before — "She changed" or "He changed." These phrases are known for being used to explain why a relationship ended — whether it be a friendship, dating relationship or marriage. Why are we so quick to give up on each other just because we change? Do we really expect a person to stay the same forever?

I do not claim to be an expert on relationships. I've always had the attitude that people shouldn't try to analyze relationships that aren't their own because there are too many missing pieces — usually only shared between the two parties involved. I do however claim to be a self-certified expert on change.

As an adult I have relocated or changed jobs every couple of years. I'm married to a football coach — so it's a given that eventually there will be more new cities, new jobs and hopefully new friends. I really pride myself on accepting and embracing change and I have always considered these changes to be positive experiences that have helped me grow as a person. However, the one change I do not think anyone can fully prepare a person for is parenthood. Being a new mom or dad changes everything, including your relationship with your spouse.

I can honestly say that my husband isn't the same guy I married. I knew he was forever changed the moment I saw him hold our son for the first time... and my husband agrees that I'm not the same girl he married. When my husband and I started dating, I was a young 21-year-old with a lot to learn. I was driven and focused on beginning a new career and when I wasn't working, I was traveling the world and seeking out my next great adventure. Now, I'm a new working mom and my only planned "vacations" are trips to the grocery store alone. Like any new mom, I am always tired and always in a rush.

For example, on Valentine's Day this year, my sweet husband literally tossed my Valentine's Day card in front of me as I was dressing our son on the changing table before we both rushed out the door to work. A year ago, this probably wasn't the romantic gesture I have wished for... but this year, it was just perfect. I actually appreciated the quick toss of the card and that my husband wanted me to read what he wrote before I rushed off to work. I also appreciated his genuine laugh and raised eyebrows when I told him he would be getting his card later that evening because I hadn't made it to the store yet.

Days like this remind me how much we've both changed since becoming parents — but when we both use the common phrases "She changed" or "He changed," it's because we are referring to the new people we've become as parents — something that should be celebrated.

So, instead of getting dressed up to go out to a "fancy" Valentine's Day dinner, we put on our sweats, ordered pizza, spent time as a new family of three and celebrated how we've changed.

We celebrated the new love and connection we have for each other and our son.

We celebrated a new understanding and the ability to forgive each other for our imperfections.

We celebrated a new appreciation for life and each other.

Watching your spouse grow into their role as a mother or father to your child is something that should be cherished. It's a different kind of love — a new love that should be celebrated.

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