I read Ayelet Waldman’s essay on loving her husband more than her kids before I was pregnant. I laughed, but agreed. In a sort of, “well, DUH” way that made it hard for me to understand the controversy. I married my husband with the intention of growing closer and closer to him as we grow older together. I figured when I have kids, it’ll be with the intention of growing further and further from them as they gain independence and I help them find their way. That’s just the way it is. Being wrapped up in my kids- loving them more than my husband- doesn’t just sound creepy-unhealthy. It sounds like I’m setting myself up for a ton of sadness.
Lately, though, I’ve been unsettled by a nagging feeling that maybe I was wrong. Which- you know- for me, is one of the WORST feelings (other than knowing that I missed out on free food in some capacity).
My days have been packed and busy lately. I’ve been more of an entrepreneur than a stay-at-home mom these days. It fluctuates, I guess. Sometimes I don’t feel justified saying I “work from home.” But, the past few weeks have been loaded with business meetings, planning sessions, designing, painting, and building. And I ache a little bit. I remember why I decided to stay home in the first place. That sense that I need to be with my son hasn’t gone away with the other remnants of postpartum.
That doesn’t seem to jive with my plan to love my husband “best.” I think of Josh throughout the day. But it’s not constant. I’m happy to see him when he finally comes in from work. But there’s not this flood of relief- this, “Oh, whew. There you are.”
I’ve thought about it a lot. As I do. And I think I can boil it down. I understand why it may feel like I love my son more, and why people would argue that they do. Normal, healthy people. Not those jealous crazies who raise dependent kids.
I thought about it the other day while I was gone for eight hours setting up a pop-up shop. My son was with his grandmom and perfectly well-cared for, thanks, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I want to explain- it’s not constant constant. I really, really enjoyed my day out and got a lot done and hung out with some awesome ladies. But, when I check the clock to see if we need to refill the meter, the second thought is, “It’s Little J’s naptime. I wonder if he’s sleeping okay?” When a kid walks by eating some ice cream I wonder, “What’d Junior have for lunch?’
That’s it. I do miss him, I do love him. But I noticed that all of my thoughts were concerned, “I hope he’s okay,” thoughts. OF COURSE he was. He was snuggling grandmom and eating too many cookies. But that, “I hope he’s okay,” seems hardwired or built into me or something.
I think it must be easy to confuse concern for love. They’re similar and interrelated. But, when I lovingly think of my husband through the day it’s more, “Last time I was here I was with Josh. That was a fun night…” and “I wish he was here now, he’d love this.” So, those thoughts happen less often. With Junior, I think about him constantly because I’m concerned for him constantly. Wondering if he’s okay easily translates to, “I wish he was here,” because if he was here, I’d know he’s okay. That’s part of what makes me so eager to see him. Part of why I feel a little wave of relief when I walk into my mom’s house and he smiles a sticky smile and claps his hands. He’s okay.
Do you think there’s a love-hierarchy? Or do you think we just love different people differently? I’m interested to hear from those with and without kiddos, alike.
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