A big thing I’m struggling with is balancing the roles of mom and dad. My partner prefers for me (the mother) to watch our baby most of the time unless I specifically ask for his help. I think it’s important that we balance both home and work life so as to not fall into an “older times” view of what parenthood should look like. I’m excited to get back to work soon, although I feel guilty for not being with my baby 24/7. I love being mommy and the work that comes along with it, but I think there should be more of a balance between parents. What should I do?
Struggling for Balance
Dear Struggling for Balance,
I feel you. You’re not alone in your struggle for finding & maintaining what feels like balance in your family. While I’m not yet a parent myself, I can speak to this issue of balance in a marriage/partnership. I think in every relationship there are times when one person feels like they’re doing more than their fair share of the work. And to be honest, sometimes that is the case. What’s actually balance over a long, loving life together might not look like a 50/50 balance when you zoom in on a single day or month or even year. When you throw life stresses (new baby, move, career change, tough boss) into the mix, it only intensifies the annoyances & frustrations that might’ve been simmering beneath the surface. I just want to say that what you’re feeling is absolutely valid & normal, Struggling for Balance, and I commend you for speaking up about your needs & desires. You’re already halfway there!
It’s hard to share your life with someone. Period. Most days we see it as the beautiful blessing it is. Some days we feel weighed down by the trials & tribulations of life, and we look for someone to take responsibility. I’m sharing this as it relates to general relationships woes, though I realize your specific situation is a bit trickier. As a mother a lot of the “work” falls on you, especially in the first year of the baby’s life. You’re the one who is with baby all the time because you’re the life-giver responsible for keeping your little nugget alive & full of momma’s milk. It’s common for the mom to feel resentful towards her partner at the beginning. And I’d argue that those feelings are indeed reasonable; however, you want to tackle this early on so that muck doesn’t begin to quietly build up and create an even bigger issue in your relationship later down the line.
I always say being open & honest is the best way to go in a relationship. Tell him what’s going on for you. Maybe he has some issues of his own that he has withheld for his own reasons. Schedule (as in put it on the calendar!) a meeting between the two of you where you discuss this specific problem. You each have the floor to air your frustrations & put it all out on the table, respectfully of course. Honesty is the name of the game. Tell him what you envision your future as a parenting team looking like, what you expect, what you wish for yourself, and what you need from him. As the listener, he holds space for you to share. And then it’s his turn and you do the same. If this practice is helpful for you two maybe you consider holding one of these meetings every so often. My partner and I have a “Couple’s Meeting” once a month. We share frustrations as well as appreciation & recognition. I believe simple communication prevents a ton of unnecessary heartache. Once you’ve finished discussing, end by creating goals that are aligned with your shared vision of your family’s future. Be committed to leaving your couple’s meeting with some actionable steps that you can both work towards. Action creates change! No matter what happens, you can promise to support each other. You can promise to let the little things go. And you can both own what you want for yourselves & figure out together what that will look like for you two. Or three! No one said it would be easy, Struggling for Balance, but I believe you have every bit of the strength & grace you need to soar! Fly beautiful momma!
Lots of Love,