One of the things I find myself struggling with as a working mom with a husband who is a stay at home dad is deferring to him as the primary caregiver.
I don’t mean that I defer Jackson’s care to N.C. of course–we talk through most of the decisions about J’s life, from the big picture to the minute details, and I am a fully vested partner in those choices. Additionally, we each have our areas of parenting where we have a slight edge on the other: I am the one who consoles, the soother, the comforter while N.C. is the play-fellow, the one who knows exactly how to elicit the largest, longest and deepest of laughs from my baby boy.
But on the aspects of LIVING the day to day, the tiny details of schedule and likes and dislikes–well, N.C. is the primary caregiver. Which, in my moments of doubting my own parenting and hating being away from my little boy, I have a hard time submitting to.
Yesterday was a good example–I wanted to do something one way, but it was a failure. N.C. pointed out how they normally do it, and I got all in a snit. I mean, Jackson is my baby too, I know how to take care of him, I’m a good mom, don’t tell me how to do it. (huff, huff, huff)
The truth is, I am not the one who knows these little ins and outs like the back of my hand. I’m not the one who lives the schedule day by day by day. I come in on the weekends, an interloper in a dance that they have choreographed. I cut in, try to do my best to repeat the steps, but let’s be honest–it’s never the same when you are trying to copy someone else’s footsteps.
I try to not take it personally–that someone else knows it better than me–but it’s hard. It’s hard to defer to N.C., to ask “what do you normally do now?”, to let it not hurt my feelings. Sometimes it doesn’t matter–we get off schedule, we do things differently when I’m “in charge”, or we try a new way and it all works fine–and those are the easiest times. But then there are the times when it does matter, and when I need to adhere to the set way of things, even if it doesn’t fit what I would do ‘naturally’. In those moments, it feels wrong to defer to someone else, even if that someone is my husband (an amazing and wonderful father, btw).
I have to remind myself that it doesn’t say anything about my parenting that I don’t set the schedule, or that I sometimes have to ask how they’ve been doing something, or that sometimes “my way” doesn’t work because it’s not “their way”. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good mom, it doesn’t mean anything other than I’m not the primary caregiver.
But telling myself that and truly believing it are sometimes very different things.