New Mama Musings

Friday, April 22, 2005


The other night I referred to the clothes the moms at the park were wearing as being "kid-friendly" and immediately got chastised by my husband, who forbade me from ever using that phrase again.

This may sound like a draconian move on his part, but both of us have words or phrases that hurt our ears. For instance, I have informed my husband that I will never, under any circumstances, be known as "Mumma." (It's Mommy or Mom, if you please.) Neither will our child's bodily functions be known as "wee-wee" (my ban) or "tinkle" (his ban, though I agree wholeheartedly).

And then he suddenly said, "You'd better not turn into someone who uses words like 'kid-friendly.' You'd better still be you after the baby comes."

And I wondered, How much and in what way will this baby change who I am? I certainly have no intention of becoming one of those moms, the ones who forget that they are a separate entity with feelings and interests and desires independent of being a mother.

You hear about women who shift their focus to their kids and neglect their partners, and while I'm sure I will be overwhelmed by this whole mothering gig in the beginning, I hope I never lose sight of the fact that my husband is my best friend. He makes me laugh, he makes me think, he makes me push myself even when I don't feel like it.

As a stepmom I've read lots of online discussions about how the focus of the divorced dad should be on his kids first and his new wife second. The reasoning is that the kids have been hurt by their parents splitting up, and as children they can't understand the situation the way the stepmom, an adult, is able to.

I never bought this argument, though. First of all, things happen. No kid goes through childhood unscathed, and if they do, they're in for a rough adulthood. As long as the adults involved in the divorce and resulting changes act like adults, I don't see that it's helping anyone to tiptoe around the kids.

As far as the new wife being able to intellectualize the situation -- what about her feelings? Does making her feel second, or third, or fourth create any kind of footing for the new family to stand on?

Luckily, my husband never made me feel that way. Yes, there are times that the kids have to come first. There are date nights he fields phone calls from the boys and "kid-free" weekends we attend football games sitting next to his ex-wife instead of going out to brunch. But he's never forgotten that I am his partner, that we're in this together, that his kids need to treat me with respect and kindness just as much as I do them.

And so I owe it to my husband not to lose sight of myself, not to lose sight of him, not to lose sight of us, even after the baby comes. Actually, I owe it to myself.


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