The Mistake So Many First-Time Parents Make. And How To Fix It.
By mid-day, I was overwhelmed by the response I was getting from readers thanking me for sharing, or praising me for my honesty. I was right, many of my readers are going through the same relationship and parental woes.
With the gracious permission of a reader, I get to publish the correspondence we had via email about some classic mistakes first-time parents make and how we are working to fix them. And a magical, amazing twist at the end that will give you hope...
(All names have been changed to protect the AWESOME!)
Kate: Read your blog post today! Please tell me this doesn't go on for THREE years?? Ahhhhh...
I am currently living in this agony... My son is 7 months old and I never felt so far away from my husband then I do now, but there isn't enough hours in the day. I have too many roles, mother, wife, daughter, sister, employee, friend, individual. Unfortunately, Mother and employee take priority. I have to take care of my son and all the other roles are getting pushed off especially the wife role. My husband and I were together for 13 years, married for 6 before we had our son. Having him has been a HUGE change in our lives. I can't believe how selfish we were before.
I also resent my husband a lot, I am working on it, but it's hard. He does the best that he can, but he works ALL THE TIME, so he is just not, not sure what the correct word is, "natural" with my son. Where I know what he needs when he needs it. I'm mom. I know, I know, I need to let him figure it out but I feel like I am the primary caregiver to my son and he gets to do whatever he wants ALL THE TIME. Never considers me... This has been so hard on us. We were rock solid before. We haven't argued as much as we have in the last, I would say year, because I was a miserable pregnant person too. Somedays I feel badly how I treat him, but others I just need him to take it, if that makes sense.
Thanks for your story as always... I just don't know if I could make it three years...
It's great to hear from you again. Sorry, it's under the circumstances of such a crappy thing.
First of all, no, not three years. Especially, because you are talking about it now. It will get even better when you start talking about it with your husband about it!. Sooooo much easier said than done, right? lol
Ok, here's my two cents, not that you asked for them, but... well...
On the subject of resentment. I struggled so hard with this. I resented my husband for getting away with watching tv, while I was struggling to get our son to sleep, or make dinner, do the laundry and feed ollie. I also wouldn't let him do much because I beat him to it or I knew my way was better and faster. I created the issue with my control freak like ways. I learned, I couldn't resent him for the things I created. I started to delegate the jobs, and tried to not overdo it. I also learned to not let him do the laundry, because " sorting is a bloody waste of time."
On the work part resentment. FTD works at a school for children with special needs and learning difference that emotionally and physically drains him. He leaves at 8am and comes home at 6:30. I HATE HIS WORK! The place sucks him dry and sends him home an exhausted shell of a man. I am constantly telling him to stop overextending himself and helping everyone, then working late to get your own work finished. His family needs him!
When he's late, he does the bedtime routine. When he's early, I tell him I have "work to do" and need 30 minutes, then run off to hide somewhere. The key is to drop your son in your husband's lap and haul ass. I know that may be hard, but it's best. You want your husband to be "natural"? Then go away. Let him be a dad, without worry of you looking over him. This is also a man-pride thing. Do this for an hour on the weekends. The trick is to get your husband and son happy alone together for longer and longer stretches. This will give them time to bond while you find your shit. You know, the shit you lost at the beginning of the week!
On the subject of growing apart.... work to make 10 minutes a night to talk to each other about your day, NOT about your child. After Ollie goes to sleep, Hubs and I walk around our house, or sit on the steps outside away from distractions. Since we don't have a regular babysitter, we also have date nights in on the weekend. Again, after Ollie goes to sleep, we order delivery food or take out, set a table, turn on music and drink a bottle of wine. It's great. The hardest part is making the effort, but damn it's worth it.
And last, but certainly, not least, This too shall pass. The less your son depends on you and demands your time, the more you will have for each other. It's worth the wait to have a beautiful happy family. It's just so damn hard at first!
Thanks again for reaching out. It's wonderful to hear from other moms who totally get it. I work from home, this is the most solid adult talk I have had all day!
Take care and reach out anytime!
KATE: I couldn't have written this any better myself!!!!
I resented my husband for getting away with watching tv while I was struggling to get our son to sleep, or make dinner, do the laundry and feed ollie.I also wouldn't let him do much because I beat him to it or I knew my way was better and faster.
Although, Will doesn't watch TV, he "works" on the computer. I think he is really just playing. Or he disappears out to the garage... Then, after putting George to sleep, which I have done solo every night for the last 7 months, but again, it's my fault, I do enjoy putting him to sleep, but I am pissed at the same time, but I still won't let Will do it. I know how to get it done quickly with minimum crying. Then, I am pissed that I have to come downstairs after George is out to the kitchen still a mess from cooking dinner and look at my husband sitting at the computer or out in the garage.
It just makes me angry. It is completely my fault too and I know it. Like you, I am a crazy control freak, and Will's excuse for not cleaning up is that he won't do it right or put something away wrong and I'll get annoyed, but if it isn't done I'll get annoyed, so he really can't win either way... I've got issues. Will is used to me taking care of everything around the house, but I just can't keep everything up to my standard anymore, and it is driving me crazy... The easy thing to do is let it go, but that control freak in me just can't.
ME: Oh girl, that's just it, you're a control freak who's lost control. Everything you said was the same here! It's about letting of go control. Ask Will to " Please, load the dishwasher while I put George to sleep." The hubs does it every time I ask with no complaint. I don't know why I don't ask more?
It's important to be open with Will about feeling overwhelmed, but also know you take on too much by your own accord. Start talking now, and once George is easier, things will be great!
The Hubs says the same thing about not doing something b/c I will bitch. For that, I have two choices, let him do it and deal with the imperfection, or do it myself and be pissed. It's a tough one sometimes.
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SIDE NOTE: To longtime First Time Mom and Dad readers, it was this same reader who made me seriously rethink moving to LoveLifeDIY.com. I started this blog to share my journey and help as many first-timers as possible not face the same challenges I had, blindly. I can't stop doing that! This was the email that opened my eyes:
I want to first say Thank You from the bottom of my heart.
I am sure you are wondering what this crazy stranger is thanking you for... I am a first time mom at home on maternity leave with my now almost six week old baby boy. I was literally going crazy from lack of sleep and dealing with a newborn for the very first time. I have never even changed a diaper in my life before six weeks ago. I started googling crazy things in desperation like "tips for first time moms" and "open adoption agencies" (not even joking). One of these searches pulled up your blog, for the life of me I can't remember which one, but I will forever be thankful for finding it. I have just spent the last week or so reading your entire first year with Oliver. Your blog made me feel so many things. I laughed for the first time in weeks, I cried (well I cry over anything these days still, I am blaming it on lack of sleep), it gave me hope that I can do this, and it gave me joy.
Your blog is keeping me sane. So again I have to say THANK YOU!
Complete sleep deprived first time mom