The other day my husband and I were having a tiff over whether our baby girl is in fact teething or just being fussy for no reason; I believed that she is teething, and my husband believed that she is just having an off day and that I don’t need to always assume the worst. Needless to say; this turned into a huge argument, I explained to him that I have “motherly instinct” and that he needs to learn to trust that, he replied by telling me; he also has instincts as a dad – which brings us here.
I have since come to realize that I have this ugly side to me, one that feels I need to be the superior parent, that I somehow need to be the one my baby needs, and that only I can console her when she is upset or not feeling well. The fact of the matter is; that although this is mostly true, it is not true every time.
There has countless times where my baby is upset and I can’t console her, her dad takes her, and she calms down, there could be a million reasons for this; she feeds of off me , so that day I might be a bit more emotional, upset or stressed out, and she feels this too, it affects her world just as much as it does mine, if not more. Her dad on the other hand; takes things in stride, he is generally more laid back, relaxed and rarely gets stressed out (we balance each other out quite well).
At first, this made me feel quite irrelevant, it hurt my feelings that my baby girl was not comforted by me, and that she needed her father instead.
As a new mom, I constantly put pressure on myself to do things “right”, I was adamant that I will be the best mother and I would research anything before making a decision about my baby girl’s development and wellbeing, whether it be her feeding, her sleeping, her play time, her stimulation – EVERYTHING.
This was starting to drive me insane, I was always tired, no matter how much sleep I got at night, I was constantly stressing about her at night for no real reason, constantly doubting my own abilities as a mom. It was taking all the enjoyment out of being a mom in the first place, it made me miss the little moments that I was supposed to be enjoying with my family.
Overcoming my insecurities
Studies have found that a woman only matures at the age of 25 – mostly emotionally, according to this; you only really know what you want to do in life and can face the challenges life throws at you with maturity and a clear head. Well, I don’t know about you, but I am 27 and still don’t feel sure about myself and my future most of the time, and some days I really don’t feel all that mature either.
Overcoming this silly little insecurity took quite some time, I had to really work hard at it, and change my perception of the situation, my husband being so involved is a GOOD thing, him wanting to help and give opinions when she cried or was being cranky; was him being a good father and a good husband, it did not mean that he thought he knew better than me or that he is questioning my abilities as a mother. He simply wants to play a big role in her upbringing, and although he respects my opinion and realizes that I am the one that looks after her the whole day, sometimes, a fresh new opinion or suggestion from the outside is just what a situation calls for.
Looking after your child during the day, every day, can become intense (especially those days that they refuse to sleep and just basically refuse to do anything you want them to), you tend to get into your head too much and it becomes very difficult to take a break and gather your thoughts, or just to even have a cup of tea and plan your day.
Your frustrated, tired, and then dad walks in and says – “maybe you should try and put her in her pram instead” – Immediately you are enraged at the thought, because you have been trying to get her to sleep the whole day, and yet you did not think of that (you can’t tell him that though because you feel stupid for not doing it in the first place)
I realized that my husband (just like me) also finds joy in parenting, and the fact that our baby girl is comforted by him, yes, he might not have the same bond with her as I do, and yes, he is not always right about what is wrong with her, but neither am I for that matter. Making him feel like he is wrong all the time, also hurts his feelings, so now; even if I know she does not have a fever; if he suggests it, I take her temperature just to be sure, and this level of respect has changed our marriage for the better, he also now feels like I value his opinion and I don’t just brush it off.
This had a ripple effect, he is now more confident in looking after her if I am not there, because he is more confident in his fathering skills and his “fatherly instincts” so to speak, he does not feel the need to call me every ten minutes when she cries, he now knows what to do with her.
We as mothers are quick to dismiss things like “fatherly instincts” because we don’t believe that it could really be a thing, although I don’t think it is more important than “motherly instincts”; fathers all over the world are moving away from the historic “mother does all” way of life and becoming more and more involved in parenting.
I have even seen my husband googling “sleep regression” and “teething symptoms” a few times.
Now that I look at things a little differently; these things warm my heart, and I am so lucky to have a husband that is such a good father to our precious baby girl, and he deserves all the credit in the world for his “fatherly instincts”.