Raising My Children on a United Front . . . Not!
Guess what, I am over at In The Real World Venus vs Mars again today . . . I'd love for you to come and visit me there . . . I'm writing about raising children on a united front . . . or not.
Here is what I have to say . . .
For the longest time I never wanted to have children, so much so, that it was one of (the many) the deciding factors in my first marriage ending in divorce. Having a baby was something I never envisioned myself doing. Being a mother was not something that I thought I could do. I had a mother who was detached and unavailable my entire young life. She could not be bothered with me. Have you heard the expression benign neglect . . . this would be a fitting description of her treatment of me. Because of her, I never wanted to have children. I never wanted to have children because I thought I would be like her. I had numerous friends and mentors tell me that it would not be the case. But still I was adamant that I would never have a child.
Until I met my husband . . .
I fell instantly and deeply in love with my husband and he with me. We had a whirlwind romance, engagement and marriage all happening in a two year span. We traveled, we laughed, we had loads of fun and through all of this, I did everything for him. Literally . . . everything. I made him
breakfast, I packed his lunch, I made gourmet dinner (almost every night), I washed and folded and put away all his clothes. I cleaned up after him and his messes. I packed for him on every business trip and he traveled a lot! He never had to worry about one single thing. If he needed something; I was at his beck and call.
I got pregnant shortly after we were married and our first child was born before we even celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I was 34 years old and my husband was 39. I had a horrible birth story and ended up having a C-Sect and a very slow recovery. My husband remained home the first week to help out and my best friend (from FL) came to help me out as well. My new husband was not used to me not at his 'beck and call' but at this new baby's beck and call. He was mad that I invited my best friend to help me instead of his 68-year-old mother. And I discovered that my husband didn't even know where anything was in our house. We had our first disagreement over our son during that first week home from the hospital. My best friend left after two days and I banished his mother from my house. She came over for 6 hours and wouldn't let me have my son when he was screaming his head off because she could not stop messing around with him (up, down, unwrapped, rewrapped, hat on, hat off, up, down and repeat). . . it was traumatic to watch.
After the one-week was up, my husband returned to work. The night prior as had happened every night since we were home, little baby boy screamed his bloody head off if I set him down. I was exhausted since this had been going on for one week already and hubbie had been sleeping
peacefully each of those evenings. I was never able to nap during the day with new baby because everyone kept calling and 'dropping' by (before MIL banishment). If I did happen to fall asleep, everyone thought it was perfectly fine to march right into my bedroom and wake me up. I was exhausted!
So baby boy was screaming, I was rocking him and my husband stands up and shouts at me to get the hell out of our bedroom because he had to work in the morning. Our second argument began that evening. I kicked him out the bedroom and said a few choice words to him in the process.
Thus began our new daily routine of me worshiping this new baby and my husband taking a back seat . . . a place where he was not used to sitting. He was resentful and jealous of the baby and I was mad at him for not trying to bond with our new baby. We quickly discovered that we did not have the same parenting ideas and notions mulling about in our heads.
The first year was tough for us, this self-discovery of parenting skills . . . I discovered I absolutely was nothing like my own mother and I couldn't get enough of my son. I discovered having a baby was the best decision I had ever made in my life. My husband struggles quite a bit the first year of parenthood. He had notions about the sleeping arrangements that didn't match mine. He had ideas about breastfeeding that didn't match mine. His notions and ideas came from his mother and mine came from reading books and my own instincts.
My mother-in-law told me that I was letting our son win every time I picked him up when he cried or didn't put him down at night in a crib and that I should never let him sleep in my arms throughout the night. I just agreed with her, as I learned was the best route for my sanity. But frankly, I didn't think I was in a competition with my newborn son. If he wanted me to hold him, I was going to. If he needed me to hold him, I was going to. If he
cried, I was going to pick him up. I didn't think my baby was winning anything if he cried to be picked up. He was crying for some reason and he stopped when I picked him up. He was happy and I was happy to do it!
By the time my son celebrated his first birthday my husband and I had sort of come to an agreement. He was swaying more towards my parenting ideas and less towards his mothers. I was pregnant again and we were settling into parenthood. My husband still struggled with being a father and a husband. It was difficult for him to distinguish himself as both and it was very difficult for him to share his wife with his son. I did my best to make him
feel as important as I used too, but it was not as easy for me. I stopped making him breakfast, I forgot to make lunches a lot, gourmet dinners were replaced with quick easy dinners and I had him help me pack for his numerous business trips.
When our second child was born, a daughter, I thought my husband would ease into this baby much better. He did not. Simply put, my husband is not comfortable with babies. We were still having issues with his very intrusive mother and he was caught in the middle. I felt bad for him but stood firm in my beliefs that we were the parents and not his mother. I loved having a new baby again and a small child at home with me. I was probably the happiest I had ever been in my life. I was with my children 24 hours a day. I never let them out of my sight. I never allowed anyone to babysit for my children and was happy to change each and every single diaper. My husband still struggled with being a parent to not just one baby, but a toddler and a baby. We discovered that he was a one-child parent and this broke my heart because I so wanted another baby.
My husband traveled so much with his job that he was only home about two weeks out of every month. The parenting decisions were really my decisions and since he was not ever home I really didn't consider any of his input, not that he really offered any parenting input anyway. We moved to China when our daughter was a year and a half and we saw even less of him. I was basically a single parent with two small children in a country where no one spoke any English and it was basically sink or swim for me. I dove headfirst into the expat community and found a niche for my small family. During this time, my husband grew estranged from our children. He was virtually a stranger to them and acted as such. It was a very sad thing to witness and I was constantly after him to do this or that with our son or our daughter, but he just simply didn't have the time and I thought he didn't care.
I became pregnant again while residing in China and we returned home, as I didn't want to have another baby in another country. I forced my husband to take another position within his company, one that did not have any travel. No traveling . . . none! The first year home was a wonderful year, we were happy to be home, I was over the moon to be pregnant again and the children loved having their father around. My husband really focused on being a good father to our children that year. He re-bonded and reconnected with our son and our daughter.
Our second daughter was born that summer and once again I had a slow recovery due to C-Sect number three. My husband really stepped up and helped out with this baby. He discovered new babies are not as hard as he thought they were. He discovered babies stop crying if you hold and snuggle them just right. He discovered a newfound love he didn't know he had for this new little baby, our third child.
Over the past couple of years, my husband no longer takes a back seat with parenting. The parent who now struggles is me . . . I had the sole responsibility of parenting our children and now sharing that responsibility is not easy for me. I am a marshmallow. My husband is not. He yells. I do not. He sets punishments that are too strict. I undo those punishments. When the children do something wrong he is off shouting and lecturing. I am holding my babies, trying to protect them from his rules that I think are entirely too strict. He is firm and I am silly. He expects his requests to be followed immediately and I will tell my children all day long to do one simple task and later end up doing it myself. He thinks I spoil our children and I
think you can't love a child enough. He thinks I am too soft and I think he is too hard.
If the children do something, I try to hide it from him. I know this is wrong, but I just can't listen to another lecture from my husband about what a wimp I am. I don't consider myself that in the least. I just choose to speak to my children in a tone that is completely different from his and my punishments are much different from his. We are at an impasse right now in regards to our parenting styles. I don't think we will ever meet in the middle. People are different. We are different. Parenting may be one of the toughest jobs in the world. My husband and I are not a united front in raising our children. I don't know if we ever will be.
. . . come see me THERE .