I received this thoughtful email from a young mother with three children aged 4, 2 and 3 months:
I really enjoy all your advice and tips. You help me appreciate that all mothers go through more or less the same ups and downs and we can provide so much support for each other. I was wondering if you had thoughts on juggling being a mother and a “co-parent”. I know that is vague. I feel frustrated and am having a hard time even understanding, let alone expressing,my frustrations.
I feel like I am bonding with my kids, B’H, especially now with the break. In some ways I am growing with them and closer to them, without my husband. There is an “ima and the kids” dynamic which is fun and sometimes challenging, but it is clear that I am the one in charge, I get to be upset with them, create with them, explore, giggle, and snuggle with them, etc. and then there is the “ima and abba with the kids” dynamic, aka, our family, which is unclear to me. Who is in charge? How do things run? Can you be “co-captains” or do you “take turns”? Is it my dynamic with the kids, plus Abba?
Somehow, I seem to enjoy my time alone with the kids better than when we are all together. I keep expecting the evenings, or Fridays or whenever my husband is home, to go more smoothly since now there are “double” the parents to help, but that is not always the case, sometimes it is less efficient and more complicated. I can’t take a step back and just let him do it either, so I am left in the middle.
This seems to lead to a feeling (on my part) of resentment, to a feeling that he is not understanding me or appreciating my experiences. This of course leads to stress on our husband-wife relationship.
My first response is that just as you have developed your relationship with your kids over time, your husband will too. But as you hinted, he needs the opportunity to let that happen, and while the baby is pretty young, it may be best for him to have time with one or both of the older ones on their own. My husband would take the kids to the pool or park on Friday, his day off. I noticed that you haven’t said what your husband’s feelings are about the situation.