The other day while I was at the beach with my three-year-old Little Miss, I overheard a conversation by another group of mothers nearby which brought back memories. Memories of such an important life-lesson.
In an exasperated and frustrated sigh, one of the mothers was lamenting the way her husband did things – or didn’t do things, rather.
“I just wish he’d do it the way I do it! It’s so much easier,” she said.
I remember feeling exactly the same way
When my oldest daughter (who is now almost 11 years old) was a baby, the way my husband did everything with her used to irritate me. Back then, I arrogantly felt like being the mother made me the one who knew what was best for our daughter. Little did I realise until later on, that just because my husband did things a different way, didn’t mean it was bad, or wrong.
Sure, he’d pack an outfit for every single season in the nappy bag each time we left the house, and he’d always be *just on time* for appointments, never allowing extra time in case of accidents like I did. He used to do this thing where he would take forever with working out what to feed her for breakfast in the mornings, and in my stubborn impatience I would rush on over, and do it the way I saw fit.
I was judgemental and hard on him
And I really shouldn’t have been. Because when our second daughter arrived, I had to give up my need for control a bit. There were things I just couldn’t do due to the increased demands a second child placed on me, and I had to let some stuff go. The first thing I let go of was my need to be right or in control.
Truthfully, I was probably the way I was because of my anxiety and my fear of stuffing up my child. I actually felt inexperienced and ill-prepared for motherhood and I wanted to feel like I had some sort of handle on something – even if I really didn’t.
I began to see just how good a parent my husband is
As I backed off my judgement a notch, I began to really see just how together my husband actually had it. Through his fumbles and struggles, he was working things out in his own way. Sure, he did things differently to me and he actually did things I totally wouldn’t have done at all – but that was okay. While I was the primary caregiver, it meant I had more time to work things out, but my husband was still learning. There is no such thing as an instruction manual for fatherhood, and he was just figuring things out, too. I realised that I needed to cut him some slack and offer him some gratitude and compassion.
You can’t really prepare for parenting
The thing about becoming a parent is that no one can really prepare you for it, until you experience it yourself. You can read all the books, you can idealise as much as you like about how things will be or what your strengths are, but until you have the life of a small little human in your care and responsibility … you really don’t know. And everyone does things differently.
His way may not have been the same way I did things but that didn’t make it bad, or wrong. It just meant it wasn’t my way.
And I am telling you right now, I became so much happier once I stopped expecting my husband to parent the same way I did. By giving him a little breathing room, I was able to see that there’s more than one way to do something and I really did have such a wonderful teammate alongside me on this crazy journey we call parenthood. It turns out, we can both learn a lot from each other as we dance in our own way, to the same rhythm, with the same desired goal – to raise our children with love.