02 Nov Finding Balance in our Parenting Roles
When my husband and I entered into this crazy world of parenthood together, I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to be an excellent father. I vividly remember him changing my son’s first diaper as I helplessly recuperated from my C-section and anxiously watched over his shoulder. He was calm and gentle and he handled my son’s little bum with such ease and confidence.
From that very first diaper, I can honestly say that I admired him as a father. It was blatantly obvious to me that from the get-go, he was the calm one, the rational one, the voice of reason. I was the nervous one, the over-thinker, the planner, the one who panicked. It’s as if these roles came naturally to us and as we fumbled through this unknown territory as a team, I realized that we managed to balance each other out as parents quite successfully.
But for the past few months, things have felt somewhat imbalanced….
It seems that my son has been going through a “daddy-phase” whereby he is completely and utterly obsessed with my husband, adamantly insisting that DADDY be responsible for EVERYTHING from putting him into his car seat, to giving him a bath to putting him to bed at night.
At first, I took advantage of this daddy-obsession. I let my husband take the lead, I put my tired feet up and I relaxed a little. But after a few weeks of constantly being told “No Mama, I want DADDY”, I started to feel a bit rejected. I felt like I was on the sidelines, pathetically looking in on this exclusive club that only had room for two. I longed for the early days when I was EVERYTHING to my son, when he needed me, exclusively.
On the one hand, I was so grateful to have this hands-on, super-involved, enthusiastic husband. But on the other hand, I felt as if I couldn’t compete. He was the silly one who made my son squeal with laughter. He was the creative one who constructed cool forts with blankets and couch cushions. He was the patient one who seemed un-phased by my son’s annoying tantrums.
Although it is difficult to admit, I was jealous of my husband and I was frustrated by these roles that we had adopted. I felt terribly guilty about feeling this way, but it was the truth.
I sheepishly confided these insecurities to my husband. He was supportive and understanding and gave me a much needed pep-talk. He highlighted my strengths as a mother and reminded me of how my son craves my affection and my nurturance, seeking me out when he is hurt or sick. He told me that I keep our family and our household running and that without me, he would be lost.
So the other day, when my husband wasn’t around, I decided to build a fort with my son. I know this may sound crazy, but there was a small part of me that felt nervous and vulnerable; what if my attempt at being the “fun-one” failed? But after seeing my son’s genuinely thrilled expression I realized that parenthood is not a competition. We each have our strengths. And although we may have adopted certain roles within our family, these roles can be flexible and are not written in stone!