This one was in the Gazette last week and I liked it so I decided to put it here. To my non-traditional friends, I know you face similar problems but it’s more complicated than swapping “partner” for husband. All you have to be is a co-parent to understand this insanity.
I’ve been having some seriously interesting conversations with my girls lately about how becoming a mother changed us. Which led to us feeling bad for our poor husbands, who had no idea what was coming.
We know they must be shocked. Mothers react in completely different ways than we did pre-children. Our husbands used to be number one, the center of our worlds, the person we were most interested in and fascinated by.
The poor guys. It’ll come back. (Just give it until the kids go off to college.)
Husbands, where is the girl who wanted to skydive, and see the world, and go out and hear bands who didn’t come onstage until 2AM? Who cooked you dinners and ironed your clothes? Who looked adoringly into your eyes every time you walked into the room?
You’re lucky if you can get her to notice you now. And if you need to discuss something really kind of big and important, like where you’re going for your next vacation, you have to schedule time with her on a family calendar.
What is happening here? Your wife still loves you, and probably on a completely different, and much deeper, level. You gave her the children that are the most important part of her life. She might be in awe of what a great dad you are, and how you work to provide for the family and do your part to raise healthy kids. And how being a dad has changed you to the core as much as it has her.
But on bad days, remember, you gave her the children.
I kid. But there are many factors at play here that are just bigger than man and wife. For one thing, when a woman becomes a mother, she becomes public property.
This begins as soon as her belly is obviously holding a baby and complete strangers start rubbing it. They give their opinions on pretty much everything, ask ridiculously personal questions, and tell horror stories about childbirth that make her want to go back and reverse the whole decision.
This treatment doesn’t end when she gives birth. Oh, that’s just the beginning. She has entered a new phase of life, this motherhood, and now that she has a child it means one thing: no matter what she does, she’s doing something wrong.
Disposable diapers – destroying the earth. Cloth diapers – uptight and difficult. Free range parenting – endangering her children. Attachment parenting – spoiling (while simultaneously smothering). Let’s not even get into whether she decides to go back to work and put the kids in day care.
But the biggest change, and one that takes even us by surprise, is becoming the Mama Bear. We are connected to the kids on such a primal level that even we can’t control our responses sometimes.
On most issues we will form a united front with you and use our combined strength to defeat the uprisings. Do your homework. Bedtime is 9:00. No, you cannot have the new $600 PlayStation.
But the weird thing is, when we sense a threat to our children – even if you’re doing nothing wrong, it can be that something just inexplicably rubbed us the wrong way – we will fight you.
I’m sorry, dads. The bottom line is, the kids come first now. This can be hard territory for a man to cede. We’re not trying to emasculate or deny you of something that belongs to you. We’re just overcome.
Moms are under a lot of pressure. We have to remember innumerable details of life (not only for ourselves but for our children, and that increases exponentially by the number of kids we have). Our heads are filled with project due dates to clothing sizes to practice times to where the broken piece of the Nerf gun ended up.
We are constantly caring for someone else, and even when we “get away from it all,” we feel the pull of people who need us. A hundred demands are made of us before breakfast is finished, and if we want to be thanked we usually have to demand it.
So, husbands, we expect you to take care of yourselves for a while now, because we’re taking care of everybody and everything else. (Except ourselves.)
Recently my husband asked if I was mad that he doesn’t send me flowers. Good Lord, no. That’s the cost of a whole new pair of soccer cleats. It’s just one more thing to clutter up my kitchen table and drop pollen that makes my sinuses explode. Though I did appreciate the thought.
Husbands, here is the best thing you can do for your wife (and I should let it be known, before I get myself in trouble, that my husband does this). When the house is in chaos and it appears that your wife is at her wit’s end, don’t get mad. Just ask this simple question: “How can I help?”
That girl who fell in love with you will be back instantly, falling into your arms, gazing lovingly into your eyes.
Until you hear a gut-wrenching crash from the next room and have to go figure out what just got destroyed.