“Our story is my favorite. You were nothing that I expected, but everything that I needed.”

Meeting my husband felt like something straight out of a fairy tale—I was the damsel in distress and he was my knight in shining armor. Growing up, all my ideals of love and marriage were based on the “all you need is love” fairytale ideology. I spent so many days, months and years of single motherhood just surviving. Just trying to make it to the next day. I would dream about having a nuclear family, having a spouse, and having someone to help take on the responsibility both physically and financially. 

Being married has been amazing and wonderful. My marriage saved me—it really did. In my vows, I said, “You have given me the family that I so badly wanted. Most importantly, you have given me my life back.”  I’m very fortunate to have a spouse who will pick up where I left off. He has allowed me the opportunity to finally focus on my dreams and my career while he not only supports our family but also focuses on the house and parental duties as well. 

Related: I see you, single mama, and I know how hard you’re working

Ironically, however, I have found myself daydreaming about my days as a single mom. It was isolating and lonely and often burdensome, but there was beauty in coming home to a quiet house; not having to share my space, and not having to accommodate others. I didn’t have to compromise; I could make decisions for my child and myself based on what I wanted and not what other people wanted.

I think back to the days when I naively thought, “all you need is love” now realizing that, no… all you need is a clean house. All you need is respect. All you need is trust. All you need is shared responsibilities. All you need is more than just love. It takes so much more than love to run a successful household and maintain a happy marriage.

On the days I feel wanderlust, I remind myself that this life is the life that I used to pray so hard for.

Marriage is work. More work than I ever thought it could be. Some days I feel like I’m suffocating from the weight of motherhood and marriage. I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, and the perfect employee—and some days I wish I could just sacrifice being a wife and go back to the days when all I had to worry about was myself and my child.

When your children are little, they depend on you for so much. Motherhood is an unspoken acknowledgment that you are giving up any semblance of yourself and your life that you once knew to raise these little humans. Responsibilities around the house pile up, the workload piles up, and your marriage just kind of ends up on the back burner. They say the key to marriage is to constantly date each other, but who has time and energy for that, really?

Related: I’m a single mom, and I’m judged differently because of it

I wish I hadn’t spent so many years as a single mom wishing the days away, wishing for better days and waiting for a reprieve from single motherhood. I wish I had learned to live in the moment a little more and appreciate the solitude for what it was. I look back on memories like packing the car and driving to Disney on a whim, just my son and I, or driving up to Massachusetts every weekend to have sleepovers with my best friend and her son. These days, even leaving the house for a quick trip to the grocery store requires planning; how easily I took for granted the ability to lead a nomadic and carefree lifestyle. 

On the days I feel wanderlust, I remind myself that this life is the life that I used to pray so hard for; I am living my dream. I think the key to it all is perspective—finding the good in the days of single motherhood and finding the good in the days of marriage. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It may seem like it when you’re looking from a distance, but once you get close enough you will find just as many imperfections as there were on the other side.

Love is not all you need—unconditional love is all you need. It’s about making a conscious effort to love one another despite the imperfections; to love your life not in spite of those imperfections, but because of those imperfections.