Monday, March 28, 2016

The Parenting Competition

"At least you get to go to work!" I told Mr. Adventure, one day. "I don't ever get a break. You get to eat lunch by yourself! In the morning...every morning you get to shower alone without asking anyone to hold a baby, or waiting for a baby to cry because he is tired of you being in the shower..."

Mr. Adventure looked puzzled. "What do you mean?" He said. "You get to stay home all day with Reuben. I would love to do that."

And that's when the fight began.

Whose job is harder? I think we argued about it for a few days before I gave up in exasperation, chalking it up to him just not understanding how difficult staying at home with Reuben actually was. Now that I think about it, I suppose he felt the same?

I remember one thing he said quite vividly. We were sitting on the couch watching Reuben play, and Brian candidly said, "Watching Reuben is easy. Look, he's just playing by himself."

I think my pot boiled over at that point. "When you watch him you just hold him." I said. "You don't have to try to cook at the same time, or do laundry, or go to the supermarket or..."

"I never thought of that." He said. "But it doesn't sound too hard."


But really, I don't know when I got into this mindset that parenting was a competition. Why does it matter so much to me that my husband acknowledges what a "sacrifice" it is when I watch our son every day? Why is it important that he understands how hard my day is, so much harder than his?

I must have a huge ego problem.

I decided to change my thinking. Instead of thinking about how long my days were, and how I rarely get time to myself anymore, and how much I'd love to spend more than 5 minutes in a shower--I decided to think about every day as a gift. Because every day is a gift. One day Reuben will be in college or maybe living abroad and I won't be able to cover his face in kisses every morning and tickle his feet.

And I just don't want to think of raising him as a chore. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's impossibly hard sometimes. But he is a person, and worthy of love. I don't want to spend my years pining away for my personal freedom--I want to spend them learning and growing with Reuben. He is a gift from God, and I am not worthy of him. And he didn't take away all my freedom and time! Instead, he filled my heart and life with happy smiles, warm cuddles, and an occasional poop-filled diaper. I chose to bring him into this world and I couldn't be more happy that he is finally here.

When I started to think of this, my attitude improved greatly. Not only did Mr. Adventure start to arrive home to a happy, smiling wife instead of a grumpy, dissatisfied and worn out wife who demanded attention and freedom, I started to actually enjoy most of my day. Is it still really hard sometimes? Yes! But instead of letting this fact totally overwhelm me, I just think about how much I love my son and how precious this time with Reuben is when he is small and how I'll never get it back--and it helps put things into perspective. I love him. He loves me.

I could care less now whose job is "harder". I don't think that term even applies to what we are doing. We are both raising a wonderful son, and working on a wonderful marriage. Mr. Adventure is doing what he can do, and I am doing what I can do. We are both blessed. And there is no prize like a bowl of ice-cream in the evening to celebrate getting through a day. I don't need praise from my husband, and I don't need him to kowtow to the many "sacrifices" I make as a mom--I just need Brian to support me and Reuben, and he does. And he doesn't need me to remind him of all the awesome things I do. I just need to do them without complaint.

Instead of looking at what I think I should have, I now look at all I have.

And my arms and my heart are so full.