A Love Story in 30 Days

achim-and-elenaHello from the Netherlands! After all that baby hooplah, we’ve finally managed to squeeze in a little family time by the sea. It’s been really good. Well, okay it’s rained every day, but I gotta say – and hold on to your hat, because this is seriously sentimental – all that rain does help you appreciate the brief bits of sunshine.

I mean this in more ways that one. We really needed this vacation.

Specifically, Achim and I needed it. It’s been such a relief to forget at least some of the daily responsibilities for a little and linger* over our hagelslag and coffee together. Ahh.

I’ve seen these posts around, about how couples without kids have higher marital satisfaction then us baby schleppers. I’d say to some degree they tend to overstate, and cherry pick a little from the research (most studies actually suggest that parents and non-parents aren’t much different in this respect1), but it does look like bringing a baby on board can make for more conflict, especially in babe’s first year. That, and less “relationship-focused leisure time.”2 Lol. NO WAY, right? 😉

Personally, I’m not sure the constructs used to measure marital satisfaction can really account for that nebulous, terrible joy that comes from sharing this crazy occupation (parenting). The lows are lower but the highs are higher, too. It’s complex. Still, no doubt, it’s stressful time. Over the 8 weeks that our second little fuzzhead has been with us, I’ll be honest – we’ve fought a lot. Nothing deeply wounding, but a lot of overwhelmed mutual irritation. And it’s almost comical, how difficult it’s been to find quality time together. Driving places is the new coffee date. Nothing like that rare, uninterrupted 20 minutes in the station wagon, coffees in the console, just me, my man, the top 40 (or even better – the top 40 from 10 years ago!) and a couple sleeping babes in the back seat, amarite?

I wouldn’t say that I’m less satisfied with our marriage, exactly – sometimes, like when he wears the baby and twirls the toddler for an hour in the square so I can go crazy on baby clothes in HEMA, quite the opposite! Still, things aren’t always easy and a little extra attention to our marriage at the moment would be a good thing. So that is why my newest creative project is dedicated to my fella! And I hope you like it, too. Here’s what I’m doing…

A Love Story in 30 Days


I’m going to illustrate our funny little love story, posting a new illustration and piece of the story every second day for 30 days. September 22 to October 21. I’ll put the illustrations on Instagram as well, but the whole story will only be posted here. I’m excited. When I work on an illustration, it kinda feels like a meditation. My hundred day project was a lot of Jonah and focusing so much on his sweet, funny mind endeared him to me all the more. I am curious to see how I will feel, immersing myself in our story every day for a month.

And I’ll have a Christmas present for Achim, too. Hehe, I’m getting so efficient! 😉

Look out for page 1 on September 22!


*Full disclosure: “Lingering” over breakfast takes coordination! And a microwave. And children’s podcasts…


  1. Mitnick, D. M., Heyman, R. E., & Smith Slep, A. M. (2009). Changes in Relationship Satisfaction Across the Transition to Parenthood: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Family Psychology : JFP : Journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 23(6), 848–852. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0017004
  2. Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on Relationship Quality: An Eight-Year Prospective Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 601–619. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0013969

19 thoughts on “A Love Story in 30 Days

  1. Sonya

    It’s great to hear all your honest reflections! I wish I could come spend some time with your little ones so that you two could spend some uninterrupted time together. Always glad to see your creative solutions. XOXO

  2. Lena

    I have read that couples with 3 kids are the least happy of couples with children. I concur. Which is why we are going for the full half dozen!

    1. Elena

      Lol Lena, I’ve read a couple studies to that effect actually! Couples with 1-3 kids were the least happy; couples with 4+ Kids were significantly happier. It was attributed mostly to selection bias, though – it takes a special person to have 4+ kids! 😉

      1. Lena

        I think we are probably already insane. I mean that third one probably drove us over the cliff. But it is nice on this side you know.

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  7. Erinlucy

    Hello! I stumbled upon your gorgeous illustrations on instagram and made my way over to your blog. My husband and I had our first kiss on October 21st, 2000 when I was 15 and he was 16 so I’m feeling such a connection to your love story! What a wonderful way to immortalise your story. Thank you for allowing us to read along! X

    1. Elena

      Aw, Erinlucy, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how you found your way here. We had exactly parallel love stories! Young love is an amazing thing… emotions are so big, then. It’s all such totally overwhelming magic… I’m glad you felt a connection. xox

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