I just assembled a third lunch for my son. He’s six (and a half, thankyouverymuch) and growing like a weed and history has taught me that a full belly is a happy belly. He walked into the kitchen, where I was chatting on the phone with a friend who just found out she was pregnant, and he lamented that he was still so hungry and I was still on the phone and he NEEDED me to hang up and help him make a peanut butter sandwich and sit down and talk to him RIGHT NOW.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, “but Noah needs me right now. Could I try to call you after bedtime?”
“Of course! I get it… kids come first!”
I recently read an article titled ‘How American parenting is killing the American marriage’. Of course I came across the article on Facebook, where a friend of mine had posted it, and of course, her friends had a running dialogue of comments and opinions. To summarize, the article likens modern parenting to a religion, saying that this attitude towards parenting comes at the cost of relationships, mainly marriages.
The hierarchy of my heart definitely has my children at the top. This isn’t to say that I love my husband LESS now that we have children; it just means that my children need my love MORE. This isn’t a secret in our house; my husband realizes this truth and agrees. For our family, we prioritize our children because, well, they are children. They are tiny little humans who are still developing, mentally, physically and emotionally. We want them to know what unconditional love feels like and looks like personally. Once they feel this love they will recognize it when it exists in others… like the love between my husband and me.
And I cannot think of a single time that either of us resented the other because our children’s needs came before our own. My son went through a phase where he wanted daddy to lay down with him at bedtime. Jeff happily obliged, and usually fell asleep right along with him. This meant that the evenings, where we used to have the opportunity for one on one time, were just for me and my kindle or my hulu or my Netflix. Sure, there were times that I wished he would just go to bed without needing daddy so Jeff and I could have time together. But in the grand scheme of things that season of our lives was just a blink. And Noah felt connected and comforted by his dad and understood by his mom, which ultimately helped him gain self-confidence.
What bothered me most about the article, apart from insulting my very way of being as a mother, was that it was yet another way to pin parents against one another. Breast vs. Bottle and Co-sleep vs. Cry It Out and Stay at Home vs. Working Mothers AND NOW I love my kids more vs. I love my husband more??
Enough is enough. And placing blame for a failed marriage on the way you parent your children? Talk about ‘love-shaming’ one another.
The thing is, this is what works for us, and it may work differently for you. This does not make my way wrong or your way right and vice versa; it just makes it different. I get that not everyone will agree with the way we prioritize our lives and our love and I am not trying to convince those who don’t understand that this is what works for our family. I am OK with missing out on date nights because my daughter has separation anxiety. My marriage can withstand a couple months, or even years, of missing date nights for the sake of our daughter. This does not mean that I value my daughter more than my husband; it means that her little three-year-old self is not emotionally mature enough to handle the separation where my grown adult self and my husband ARE.
And if your marriage relies on the weekly or monthly night out? Make it happen, mama! Who am I to judge, and have a glass of wine for me!