01/23/2015 03:51 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2015

When Love Is Like a River (And Other Terrible Cliches)

Kate Baer

Love is like a river.

Sometimes, it is fast and dangerous, leading you to a waterfall that looks a lot like a cool guy in jeans (but ends up being herpes).

Sometimes, it is slow and steady, a babbling brook of quiet dinners and road trips in the sunshine.

And sometimes, it is just a pile of rocks where a river used to be.

Whenever I go to a bridal shower and have to fill out one of those "advice for the bride" cards, I always write the same thing -- go to bed angry. Let the sun set on your annoyance over the unloaded dishwasher and if you're still mad in the morning, bring it up over waffles. Everything is better with waffles.

Lately, though, I'm thinking of changing my go-to marriage tip to something a little less chirpy and a little more horrifying. A simple truth about marriage that everyone knows but nobody knows-knows until it's happening, which is this: kids make marriage hard.

I didn't realize it until there were two of them, until I looked over at Austin one night and realized we are basically roommates chasing a drunk toddler and passing a newborn back and forth in a game of grownup hot potato.

We love each other, yes. But after a full day of wiping butts and refilling the Brita pitcher, I am done. By 10 p.m., I am done thinking about who is hungry or thirsty or needs a humidifier. I am done refolding the wash and tripping over little red tractors. My patience is spent. I am one toddler tantrum away from hiding out by the recycle bin. I do not have time for pleasantries.

Multiple studies have shown that a human's overall lifetime happiness is at its lowest when they have young children. The highs are high, but the lows are low.

The good news is that those highs are like a rainstorm filling up our love rivers and helping us get out of bed in the morning. The bad news is that a lot of days end with the following conversation:

Her: "Hey, I forgot to ask about your day."

Him: "Oh yeah. Do you want to watch TV?"

Her: "I'm too tired. Goodnight."

It is not a hopeless case. The miracle here is that so many people make it through parenting with better, stronger marriages.

My point is that love is like a river and even though it isn't intentional, our kids stand along the shorelines with big straws and drain us until all that's left is Hulu and burnt bowl of popcorn.

The best we can do is laugh and hope that when it rains, it pours.