How I’ve Learned To Appreciate The Challenges Of Family Life

February 21, 2020  |  

African American parents loving their baby daughter at home in Flushing, NY

Source: Camille Tokerud / Getty

Around Tuesday of last week, my daughter’s sleep patterns went from bad to worse. She went from waking up two times a night to waking every hour or so. I felt especially defeated. Sleep has been a struggle for us since she was about six months old and things were finally starting to look like they were improving as we approached her first birthday. Then, out of nowhere, another setback. Like most humans, neither I nor my partner does well without proper sleep. And by Thursday morning, we were both fully prepared to tell the other about themselves. Still, we persevered without getting out of character and made it to the weekend. Unfortunately, things only got worse and we barely got any sleep.

Somewhere around midnight Friday, it dawned on me that my daughter’s sleep setback was likely due to some illness that was causing discomfort. I suspected that the culprit was an ear infection and while my husband wasn’t completely sold, he played along without making snide comments about hypochondria. We got up early Saturday morning and headed out to see her pediatrician. The visit went smoothly and as it turned out my suspicions were right. She had a double ear infection which was causing sleep disturbance. She would need to go on antibiotics for the next few days so we grabbed lunch on the way home and then stopped by the pharmacy. Once we were home, we tried to make her as comfortable as possible with her prescribed medication and a little Tylenol.

As soon as she drifted off to a deep and peaceful sleep, the energy in the room instantly felt lighter. I looked at my husband and smiled. My heart was full. I was, of course, completely relieved that my baby was on the road to recovery, had finally found comfort, and was able to get some quality rest. But that was only part of the complex emotion that I was experiencing. It was the fact that we managed to navigate another obstacle and problem solve as a team. The added fact that we had managed to do so without a need as basic as sufficient sleep being met– and without being unkind to one another –made the victory that much sweeter.

Eventually, it dawned on me that this was not an unfamiliar feeling. Each time we manage to solve a problem as a team, we both walk away with a newfound appreciation for one another and our relationship. We all slept peacefully that night, without interruption, and I woke up grateful for the partner with whom I’ve chosen to navigate this road called life.

We often talk about the strain that the stress of family life can place on relationships, but we don’t’ really highlight the idea that with each challenge that is overcome, the relationship is further fortified. The beauty of marriage is not only about big moments. It also lies in everyday occurrences.

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