I’ve been reading the book, Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. Ms. Waldman is famous (among other things) for writing that she loves her husband more than her children. In fact, Oprah even hosted a show dedicated to a panel of mothers who hated Waldman for such a strong declaration.
I’m one of those people who reads a book from the table of contents straight through to the credits & even references if they have them. So, as I turned to the end there was a Reader’s Guide & it asked this question:
“What do you think of the author’s declaration that she loves her husband more than her children? Is there a hierarchy in your household among spouse, children, home, self? Do you think there is a right way to organize affections within a family?”
First off, Do I love my children more than my husband? No. Do I love my husband more than my children? No. I truly & honestly feel that the two loves that draw me to each of them are so significantly different & powerful that I could not say one is more than the other.
I have heard many a new mom tell me that they struggle with the overwhelming love that a parent feels for their child that it’s almost crushing. I can look at Lboy and my whole chest aches, almost painfully, because I can’t decide if I want to hug him forever or pinch his cheeks or give him kiss after kiss after kiss after kiss. I understand that innate, biological programming that we parents have, especially mothers I think, that makes us feel as though that love is stronger than a love for a spouse. Saying that it is overwhelming is an understatement!
I mean seriously (and comically), Lboy can pass gas & he looks at me with this sheepish grin & says, “Uh-oh. I tooted” & I think he’s absolutely adorable when he does it. It’s one of the cutest conversations we have (on a regular basis I might add.) If Todd passes gas? I’m usually turning green & swearing off baby making forever or at least until that funk that requires a gas mask clears away & is permanently erased from my memory.
See the love is different. It can’t be split so black and white into one versus the other.
To answer the second question of a hierarchy of household, I would say yes, Todd & I have definitely have the same mindset that our family operates as a household of Faith first, Spouse second, Children third , work fourth, and so on (obviously there is a fine line of where to put “self” on the list so that by taking care of ourselves we are taking care of our families, but for the purpose of this essay I am having to generalize somewhat & “self” was left off the list–I take care of myself by blogging! ;).)
We established this hierarchal order for ourselves as a couple before we were married. We wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We constantly have to recheck the list, examine it to make sure something isn’t being left off, that someone isn’t feeling left out, that we haven’t left ourselves out. It’s not etched in stone so much as it is a list that ebbs & flows to change with our daily lives.
Are there times when I have had to put Lboy before Todd? Yes. But I know that if I continuously put my child before my marriage, then I will have no marriage. It won’t work for us. Maybe it will work and works for other people. But not for Todd & me.
I think that in the parent-child relationship & in the spouse-spouse relationship we must find a delicate balance. A balance that realizes that there will be plenty a date night planned where a kid will get sick & Todd and I will more than likely spend our entire evening being vomited on by said sick kid.
There will be times when any sort of time Todd & I spend together has to be crammed between the hour and a half when a new baby won’t have to eat (did this a million times when Lboy was first born.)
There have also been plenty of times when I have had to ditch my anxiety ridden, mothering ways & leave Lboy with a babysitter so I can spend some one on one time with Todd. So we can reconnect, so we can remember how we make each other laugh, so we can simply walk hand in hand without carrying a kid, toys, sippy cup, & a diaper bag, so we can remember why in the heck we ever decided to make that crazy, yet amazing leap into marriage in the first place.
I often feel it’s unbelievable that I’ve been blessed with such a wonderful life that I can even write on this topic. For me, there is no love greater than the one I feel for Todd & there is no love greater than the one that I feel for Logan. I just think that’s the way it goes. And hopefully, with a lot of prayer & determination, that won’t ever change.