WARNING: In this post I may sound ungrateful and just plain bitchy…but hear me out. I’m coming from a place of love.
On Friday I saw a piece written by Abi Oborne in the HuffPost about how she’s not lucky to have a husband who’s a good father. Basically stating that they’re his children too, and that’s the way it should be-50/50. I whole heartedly agree and am also glad my Esposo sees it that way.
My family calls my husband “The Amazing One” as a small joke as to how much I gush over him, but also because they’re impressed about how great of a guy this tattooed, pierced, baby daddy, college dropout communist punk turned out to be. My mom, grandmas, tias, tios, primos, primas, TODOS [everyone] tell me how lucky I am. And I know this. But to cite their stories about how my uncles/grandfathers never dared to change a diaper, or feed their kids? I find that antiquated and sexist. He just gets to enjoy the baby making and not the baby rearing? Bahaha! Que chiste [What a joke]. They’re his kids too-for just as long as they’re mine. He can’t just chime in later when they can feed and fend for themselves.I feel less lucky for having him, and am proud that I picked a good, no GREAT one.
I admit however, that here’s another example of where I find myself challenged in the Esposa experience. When I want to hold onto the cultural norms of the mother being the do-it-all super hero, who changes diapers, cooks, cleans, and keeps the well deserved beer in her man’s hands cold…but adopt the very much welcomed progression of hands-on fatherhood.And it’s sexy to see my man do the dishes and make chicken nuggets for our picky eaters.
But I’ve had to tell my husband, more than once, to stop being Super Dad. Because my husband does everything. He cooks, he cleans, he works, he changes diapers, he gives baths, he puts the kids down to sleep, he wakes up in the middle of the night and changes a diaper or feeds the baby, whatever the case may be, my husband can, will, and has done it all. At one point, it was slightly out of necessity. I was 20 weeks pregnant with our 3rd and dislocated AND broke my ankle so badly, the bone popped out, back in, and needed 9 pins to repair. So I wasn’t exactly able to hop up out of bed and rock our 14 month old back to sleep, or get up and change a diaper while balancing my growing body on 1 leg. But the Amazing Esposo proved his nickname right, and was there 1000%. Getting the kids dressed and into daycare, bringing them home, feeding, bathing, changing, everything. He was great. A little too great.
My boys would only get to see me in bed or seated. I was a mini jungle gym for them. But Esposo would have none of it. He’d tell them to get off mom and leave her alone no matter how much I insisted it was fine. I did want to fully recover, I had to my family’s well being and the life of my unborn girl were at risk.But I missed my kids.
Soon I noticed a rift in the relationship between me and my younger son Max. He didn’t come to me for kisses or hugs any more. I thought he just wasn’t an affectionate boy, and I thought that imposing myself on him would make him upset..afterall, when I would try, he would grunt and wipe away the kisses (he did this for everyone) or yell “no!” If I tried to hug him. He is a rough testosterone filled walking pile of dirt and toy trucks. I tried not to take his actions personally. I thought I was just letting my son be himself. He was so smart and advanced, I actually forgot that he still just a baby. Then he started having night terrors. Bad ones. Every night. They’d start at 2 a.m. and he’d maybe fall asleep about 5 p.m. Both boys share a room so as he’d begin to cry, my husband had to run into the room, grab him, and bring him to our room fast enough so that he wouldn’t wake his brother. I tried to do the best I could, but as he was already a Daddy’s boy since birth and I was not able to carry him or rock him very well, he would go with Dad. My parents and sister lived with us at the time (yeah, there was a lot going on, but they were a huge help) and my mom always said “Mi’ja, eso no esta bien. Los bebes necesitan su madre, si hay una madre presente.” [Daughter, that’s not right. Babies need their mom if their mothers are present]. Then daycare noticed. They said he was acting different, he was usually sweet and loving but was rejecting affection from teachers and having trouble napping. That, along with my intense anxiety/stress level of being unable to jump and run to my children when they’d cry or bump their heads, kept me awake at night. That and the unbearable physical pain I was in.
I realized I had to start forcing my affection onto Max, and didn’t take his small rejections and rough and tumble attitude as road blocks, but rather speed bumps I had to learn to maneuver around in order to reach a mutual bond. And so I did. And it didn’t take long until he went back to sleeping normal.
Meanwhile, little rifts in my relationship with my other son were starting to show. Every time he’d run into my room with a resounding and giggly “Hi Mom!” my loving husband, who thought he was working in my best interest, came and scooped up our toddler and say “No, no. Leave Mom alone!” As he kicked and screamed and yelled for me, his father would take him away, thinking I needed more rest. But what I needed most were my kids. Too hormonal, exhausted, and confused to say much, I just let it happen. But started to feel resentful of my husband. I knew something had to give.
I needed my husband to let me be a mom again. In a smaller capacity for the meantime, but my kids needed to recognize me as the mom they were used to. It would be hard, and I would need his help. But I didn’t need him to do it for me.
So one night after being told once again by my Madre that this situation no estaba bien [wasn’t right], I waited for the boys to be asleep to have a moment alone before bed. As I awkwardly laid there, trying to keep my ankle, the unborn baby, and myself comfortable…I had the uncomfortable conversation with my beloved about how he needed to stop being so great.
He did not understand me. It took us several tries to understand one another. I thanked him about a million times, cried a million more, but then told him things needed to change. His stress was starting to show and there was some back and forth about how he was just doing what was best for me. As thing escalated I distinctly remember shouting “You’re taking my motherhood away from me!”
The words felt like word vomit, but they needed to be said.
He then understood, and with the help of his suegra, we worked out a routine where my boys got to have diapers changed, books read, and games played in bed with me, the growing baby,and my giant cast.
Now that I’m walking again, things have gotten much better. For both me and him. I see him relaxed a bit more and just overall less stressed. But I still have to tell my hubby to let me change a diaper or two. I’ve gone days without changing one, sometimes. Other times, I just assert myself into bath time, or put the kids down myself.
Parenting is a team effort. My hubby is an MVP, but we need to play like the Spurs. There’s no LeBron show here. Team work makes the Dream work!