My husband took our 5-month-old son to the grocery store for the first time. And it went great. He wrapped Sam up in the Moby wrap with confidence (although it took 3 tries to get it right) and strolled down the aisles with a head full of hair and curious little eyes peeking out of the papoose. All the ladies smiled at the approach of a baby-wearing dad, making comments like, “Looks like you’ve got a helper today.” My husband would respond with chuckle, “Yep, I sure do,” as he placed a can of spaghetti sauce (the Hunt’s cans are $1!) into the cart. Husband and Sam whirred around the store together and left coming out under budget.
I’ll be honest, the I’m-so-proud-of-you honey moment was quickly overshadowed by my are-you-serious? moment. Deep down I was a bit disappointed the whole trip didn’t end in disaster. I was expecting a story of frustration with baby screams, a dropped jar of something, and poop everywhere. But no. Smooth sailing. And no poop.
Secretly, I wanted to come home from work with my husband handing over Sam, saying “Never leave again! I’m so glad you’re home. How do you do it?” Instead, Husband greeted me at the door with a, “Hey babe. How was work? We had a great day!”
Are you kidding me? Everything went great? He came in under budget? Aren’t husbands notorious for spending too much on frivolous extras? The baby didn’t shed a tear? There was no blowout?
Sometimes, as moms, I think we cling to the feeling that everything will fall apart without us. Sometimes we put so much stress on ourselves because we like feeling needed. We want to do everything ourselves, so we can say we do it all ourselves. And, then we can complain that we do everything ourselves. Maybe, deep down, we want to be loved the most. We want our kids (and husbands) to think we’re super woman. Magic even. We want to be important. Even commercials today reinforce the (false) narrative that dads are idiots and moms are the saviors of the family. You can’t leave a man to do a woman’s job.
We need to remember that our value isn’t in holding everything together. Our value is the fact that we are simply Mom. We are the only one. And whether or not we go to work or stay at home, do the shopping or simply make the list, we are irreplaceable. We are loved. No matter what.
I had to remind myself that life doesn’t revolve around me, and my kid has two parents, not one. My husband’s time as a summer-stay-at-home dad is beautiful and important. Sam will grow up and remember the fun summers with Dad. He won’t love me less. He won’t be disappointed. He will love Mama because she’s his mama, not because she was the only one who could keep the house from falling apart.
I am trying to be more intentional about praising and thanking my husband as Dad. Just as I’d like him to thank me, fall on his knees and tell me I’m amazing, he needs that recognition too. While being a mom can certainly be challenging, so is being a dad. And, I have to remember that he hasn’t been prepped since birth to be nurturing. It’s been harder for him to be patient, but he’s getting frustrated a lot less. He’s figuring out how to bond just as I have been. Instead of nitpicking his interactions with Sam—telling him the diaper is too tight, or the seat belt lock needs to be higher, or don’t flip him upside down above your head—I am going to thank him for being devoted to our son, for parenting alongside of me, and for being bold enough to wear Sam in the grocery store.
So, I’m letting you off the hook. Don’t feel like you have to be the fulfiller-of-all-needs. Let go a little. Let Dad (or grandma, or aunt, or uncle, or friend) take care of it (in their own way). Take a breath and know that you are the best Mom. And then tell Dad that he did a great job.
This is the first post of one of our newest contributors, Kristen! We are looking forward to many more great posts from this awesome momma!