Sometimes, I get jealous of how much my kids celebrate and fawn over my husband. I know it’s a terrible thing to feel, but it happens. Particularly when I am working so hard to make their lives fun, educational, varied, and full of joy, and it’s not to say he does not also do this. He wears them on his shoulders through endless hikes, has taught them how to ride a bike, fish, and make banana bread, and hunts for worms with them.
He’s a great father. But it isn’t the same. He isn’t in the kitchen guiding them through a cake-from-scratch for two hours only to have me arrive and take the glory.
These examples are endless. I will spend hours, sometimes days, curating an experience for them, and in their eyes, it’s “us” that made it happen. And because I am home with them, most of the time, he gets to swoop in and be Superdad, and I get to be “the old shoe,” as I affectionately call myself.
I can think of one time that it got the better of me. We were on a ski mountain, and anyone who has skied with kids knows that this is, in and of itself, a borderline inhumane scenario. The kids need a million layers; the boots are too stiff, the air is too cold, and the whining is relentless. I persevere with the patience of an anointed saint, even if it just means I’ll silent-cry into my goggles later (true story).
We finally arrive at a chair lift with only two seats. The two girls couldn’t imagine riding with anyone BUT their dad, and I, in a very weak and broken moment, threw my hands up and shouted, “I’ll just go wait in the lodge since no one cares to ski with me.”
This was not a proud moment for me. They are young children who love us both tremendously but get much more of me than him. I know this. But it stings when I’ve worked through something with them for hours, and all those efforts disappear when he walks in just in time for dinner.
It makes me feel like my efforts are invisible, and in many ways they are. Because they are young children, they are not supposed to know that I’m going above and beyond myself to bake, paint, read, or any of those things with and for them.
I know it is positive that they can’t get enough of their other parent. I know it means that they’re well-loved by not one but two great parents. They’re so lucky. It’s not lost on me that this is a gift. I remind myself that becoming invisible to them when he arrives is also a gift. It means they are so well-loved by us both that they aren’t even thinking about how I might feel when it’s all about him. That’s the greatest accomplishment of my parenting so far: my kids don’t worry about me.