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Throughout decades of fighting for equal rights, women of the United States have moved leaps and bounds towards equality. We are largely expected to attend college, to seek our own path and to be who we wish to be. However, there are still a few areas in which women woefully lack the benefit of equality quieting judgment. Parenting is one of those areas. A woman is generally expected to be the “main’ parent, and although scores of men are stepping up to the plate and embracing their parental responsibilities, if dad’s a better parent than mom, well, she’s basically a bad person.
My husband is a better parent than I am. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent, it doesn’t mean I love our son less than my husband does, it just means he’s more skilled at dealing with our toddler than I am when certain problems arise, because he’s just a tad better equipped in those areas.
My Husband Is A Better Parent Than I Am — And That’s Okay
I grew up with a dad that yelled all the time. I loathe yelling and loud sounds, because it slams me right back into my five-, ten-, fifteen-year-old self that was terrified whenever my dad yelled. I love my dad, but he was a shouter of a caliber that would beat the high-hills yodelers at their own game and have them stuffing their fingers in their ears.
And what is a toddler wont to do? YELL. That’s right, it’s like the screaming bubbles up from the core of their being like molten magma and must escape or they’ll explode in a fiery reenactment of Mount Saint Helen’s.
My son loves to scream and shout, especially when he’s mad, and I end up mentally cowering in the corner trying to hold him at bay with a feather duster, OR I get so angry that I yell at him, which isn’t productive at all. So my husband swoops in and kindly-but-sternly gets our son to stop screaming in order for me to take my finger off the speed-dial button for my psychiatrist and calm the hell down.
Oddly enough, in my super-loud shouty upbringing, hitting was not allowed, so I do not take my son hitting me very well. Oh sure, I know that he’s like, TWO, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be done with that phase before I complete the psychotherapy needed in order for me to be okay with it. My husband roughhouses with our boy, and when our son gets overly excited and hits him, he takes our son’s hands and says “don’t hit, hitting isn’t nice,” and that’s that. What do I do? I start Googling borderline personality disorder and wondering if our son is going to be a serial killer when he grows up. I also become deeply offended and have a sleepless night wondering why he hates me and what I did to deserve it.
Another thing is, kids are friggin’ messy. I feel like I’m raising Taz from Looney Tunes. I’ll be picking up the living room and putting his toys away, and my son swoops in and takes out every single toy I toss in his toy box, says “ooh!” like he’s discovered treasure and then promptly throws it back on the floor. I’ve tried having my husband play in the other room with our son while I cleaned, or I’ve cleaned when the two of them are out, but, invariably, when our son gets back in the room, everything is everywhere in like half a second. My husband is cool with it, he just avoids the Legos on the floor and is chill with the fact that everything he cleans up will be messy again in no time, while I fantasize about donating all the toys to charity and burning our shag rug because I’m pretty sure there’s at least five colonies of ants living there, no matter how much I clean it.
THE DEATH WISH
On Leno once, Michael J. Fox said, “the first five years of a kid’s life, you’re on suicide watch,” which was hilarious when I first heard it, but ohmygod it’s SO true now. No matter how much I’ve cleaned or childproofed, my son has the ability to immediately find something that will kill him built into his DNA. My super-normal reaction is to want to move to a hut on a frosty mountain peak and give him two smooth rocks to clack together for entertainment, but, once again, my husband comes up, relieves our son of said deadly item, says, “no, icky,” and then draws his interest to something nonhazardous, while I swiftly close my Zillow app so he won’t see I was browsing remote shacks in the Alaskan wilderness.
WHY IT’S OKAY
Overall, I’ve felt like a total jerk with my illogical reactions, especially because I generally pride myself on my logic. I’m the one who’s always been the go-between when people are fighting, I figure out the best and quickest steps to a solution, and I’m cool-headed. But when it comes to my ability to parent a two-year-old, I’m like the hysterical woman in an old movie that needs a slap to get her sh*t together.
The thing is, my son is always safe. He is always loved, protected, and cared for. It doesn’t matter that I’m plain awful at parenting in some areas right now, because he’s getting stellar parenting from my husband in the areas where I lack. And when he’s tired, sick, or wants a story read, it’s me he goes to, because I’m great for those things. I’m also great at making him laugh, because I’m silly as hell and don’t care what people think about it.
I am also learning. I am getting better at reaching out to him when he’s screaming, or gently telling him “no” if he hits me (although I still want to burn our shag rug). And when I’m going through my times of thinking I’m a failure as a mother, I remember what a great aunt I am to my sister’s kids, and that my son won’t be two forever. As he grows and begins to communicate, I’ll be the in-house expert on that, and maybe one day I’ll end up the better parent, or maybe as the years go on, my husband and I will switch places, going back and forth in being the best person our son needs for the problem at hand.
After all, parenting is a two-person job at least, and as long as we’re giving our all to our child’s upbringing, it’s okay if a player needs a pinch hitter once in a while, because we are a team.