Sometimes I wish I could be straight JUST because it would be easy to fall back on gender roles to explain away inequities in my relationship. The big issue right now is my wife being second favourite to our daughter. Actually, third favourite – she says “mommy’s my favourite, Albus [the cat] is my favourite buddy.” My wife has been met with avoidant behaviour from our daughter the last month or so. She gets home from work and Avery cringes and hits her if she goes in for a hug, and becomes INSANELY clingy to me. It’s really hard, and really sad. Can’t imagine how hard and sad it is for my wife.
But in hetero relationships, we’ve heard that it’s common for the kids to want nothing to do with the dads for a good long time. It’s easy when it’s a matter of moms versus dads. Women are so often primary caregivers, and men are socialized to not care if their kids go to their mother for every booboo and request. It’s what’s normal.
I think what’s happening with my wife and daughter IS normal, to an extent, but it’s hard to see it that way when our daughter wants one mom so much more than the other mom. We’re both moms – but our roles are as different as any opposite-sex couple out there.
We had our donor’s family over for dinner recently. Their two kids are 8 years and 18 months, and Avery has a budding friendship with both of them; especially the older one, who seriously loves Avery (seriously – she says it all the time, and hugs the daylights out of her, and it’s the sweetest thing ever).
We feel so incredibly lucky to have this positive relationship with our donor and his whole family. Although we’ve decided to have another baby so that Avery will have an actual sibling, it’s feels good to know she has other kids out there her age who she can be connected to in a special way. It’s different from a friendship, and it’s definitely not a sibling relationship. It’s just a unique relationship that not all kids get to experience.
Oh boy am I ever behind on my #blogtober daily blog challenge. Maybe I’ll try again in December.
Here’s what we’ve been up to.
- We went to the pumpkin patch with our donor’s family. The kids all played together and the adults had a great time catching up. We still feel so lucky at how our relationship with our donor turned out.
- We carved pumpkins and Avery was so into it. She loves crafty things, and helped us design and draw the pumpkin faces, she washed and dried the pumpkins with care, and just sat quietly watching while we did the cutting.
- We had our first overnight away from Avery. We got a hotel at a resort near my mom’s farm and my mom took care of Avery while my wife and I got away for our 10 year dating anniversary.
- My wife is away on her first business trip since Avery was born. It’s just two days and she put her foot down and demanded to be home for Halloween. Family first. She was so sad to be leaving us for just two days. Avery cried when she realized her Mo wasn’t here this morning (she left at 4am to catch her flight).
- I finished Avery’s Halloween costume. She requested to dress up as a cat. We are raising a tiny cat person. I’m proud.
Today Avery and I checked out the open house for a brand new childcare option that is starting up literally just down the street from my house. It’s a very cool, community-minded business started by a mom & dad duo who are utilizing the first floor of their home as a blend of rented office space and on-site childcare.
The first thing I noticed as we pulled up in our stroller was the rainbow (inclusive to diverse families) sticker and the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” sticker in the window. Off to a good start.
The front room of the house is a beautiful, 100 year old living room turned office space. There are three small desks and a large boardroom table. The back room is the play area, where a certified early childhood educator watches the kids. These two areas are separated by a kitchen where the coffee and tea are free and flowing, and snacks can be stored and prepared. The kids are kept out of their working parents’ hair by two baby gates.
Since Avery’s daycare provider only offers Monday – Thursday care, I haven’t been able to work on Fridays (and Avery gets bored at home with me all day on Fridays). This new co-working parent cooperative is totally flexible to one day per week schedules, and actually functions in 3-hour timeslots. Avery and I are going to do a trial day next week, and if it works for us, we might start doing a regular Friday morning timeslot. When she no longer needs an afternoon nap, we could easily do two 3-hour timeslots, walking the 2 minutes home over lunch while they’re closed from 12-1.
I’m hopeful that this arrangement works for us, because I’ve loved co-working arrangements in the past. It helps me to feel motivated when I’m paying to get work done somewhere; I like having a reason to get dressed for a work day instead of lounging in sweats all day; and the company of other parents makes me feel less alone as someone who is balancing work and parenting.
I love my neighbourhood. First a coffee shop/brewery opens up a block and a half away in my little residential neighborhood, and now this, a block and a half in the other direction. We’re never moving.
I’m not exactly keeping up with the daily posts for #blogtober, so far… But it’s because we’ve been away for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend and bouncing from one family gathering to the next. At my in-laws, Avery got to spend quality time with her two cousins. One is just 5 months older than her, and the other is 2 months old. She gives her baby cousin gentle kisses on the head, and she strokes her little arms and legs and touches her fingers and toes. She’ll just sit next to her and watch her with a look of wonder and tenderness in her eye. So that makes us definitely want to give her a sibling.
When we leave family get togethers, we almost always rant for half an hour in the car as we drive away, or one of us will be crying from something a family member said or did. Family. It’s complicated.
In other news, I’m anxiously awaiting my PhD data… Data I have collected so far has not looked as expected, which is not good. It’s taking longer than I expected to collect, too. Right now we’re (loosely) planning to have baby #2 after I’ve worked for the minimum of 600 hours required to collect employment insurance. To work, I need to first get a job. To get a job, I need to first defend my dissertation. To defend, I need to write it. To write it, I need data. Data that works out for my hypotheses. So there’s a lot of pressure on getting that data collected and getting it to work out for me.
And that’s pretty much all that life involves right now – family stuff and school pressure. Thankfully, we have an amazing kid to help us find joy in the everyday moments.
Recently, an adult in Avery’s life thought she was touching something she wasn’t supposed to. This adult yelled and scolded her. And then they realized that she was in fact not touching anything off limits. They said nothing. I was entering the scene from a distance so I could see what was happening but I wasn’t seen. When I approached, Avery ran to me, hugged my legs, and her bottom lip started quivering.
We don’t yell in our family unless she is about to get seriously injured and needs to be startled out of doing something dangerous. That, and the time she started pulling my baby plants up out of the garden… I yelled like a Banshee at that… Not proud of it, but we all have buttons more easily pushed than others.
Anyway, I was struck by the fact that this adult didn’t apologize to Avery when they realized they were mistaken. They had yelled at her for touching one of her own toys. She was confused and sad. An apology would have fixed the situation, and shown Avery a valuable lesson about admitting when we’re wrong, and showing kindness to people.
But I didn’t have the nerve to correct the person. I didn’t ask them to apologize. I think I need to learn the valuable lesson of standing up for myself so I can model that to my daughter, and then we’ll both be able to demand apologies for ourselves.
My wife is a do-er. She’s handy with tools, she can carry heavy things, and she always gets asked to help when there’s a building project or when someone’s moving. I used to be that person, too. When my wife and I moved in together we enlisted no help – together, we moved in every piece of furniture, every appliance, every box, by ourselves. We also fixed up our home together. I did as much sanding and painting as she did.
But when we became parents, I ended up taking on (or being given) the role of default parent. I love the role because it means that I’ve been the first person Avery asks for and comes to, but the problem with that role is that it supercedes the roles of helper-outer, heavy-lifter, project-maker, etc. I no longer get asked to help with things because it’s assumed that I’m busy with Avery. Or it’s assumed that I’m too “soft” because I’m a mom (which is the most ass backwards logic ever).
Is this just happening to me, or do other primary caregivers experience this shift in how people see them as well?