5.31.2006

Deep thoughts. Perhaps too deep for someone not smoking the marijuana.

Is it possible, just possible, that we attempt to measure our love through the things that we do for our children? Diaper changing. Tear wiping. Bath giving. Lullaby singing. Laundry folding. Is it possible that we take inventory of all these tangible, quantifiable, time-consuming activities, then add them up and say, "look how much I love you! Look how much I've done for you!"

And if so, is it possible that the issue burdening working parents is not the one we tend to discuss?

I am frequently asked whether I'm worried that Thalia appears to love her daddy more than she does me. Perhaps what I should be contemplating is whether I'm worried that her daddy appears to love Thalia more than I do.


35 Comments:

Anonymous Dad said...

Love is not measured in numbers of deeds. Love is measured by consisantcy over time. Love is measured by nuance. Love is measured by the certain knowledge that each will be there for the other, unconditionally and unquestioned. Always and without fail. A paid nurse or nanny can change diapers, but they cannot provide that unstated and unmeasurable "something" which exists between parent and child and builds over time. Nate does not love more than you. He loves differently. The baby loves you each for different, unarticulated and undefined reasons. Her smile when you return at night is all the reasurance you will ever need.

5/31/06, 5:49 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

no no no. and no. it's not about loving more or less than another. and it's definitely not about the shit you do like change diapers. the things aren't going to change themselves. good lord, one can never keep tally on all the crap we do for our kids. blake, i've fed you a total of 40000500404 times in your almost 8 years.. further proof that i love you more than your dad does. lol

5/31/06, 5:57 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I've felt like that before -- "You'd better realize how much I love you as I wipe your poo off of my arms!" And I wonder sometimes if they save that stuff just for me, beacuse they love me soooo much, but then I see the same thing happen to Dave and I realize that they love him just as much as they love me. ;)

5/31/06, 6:05 PM  
Blogger MamaChristy said...

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

No matter what you believe, these words are so beautiful and so true. Love is something that you give, not do.

5/31/06, 6:08 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

no. you can take care on a person without loving them... you can even take care of a person and resent them... love, especially a parent's love is built on sturdier stuff.

5/31/06, 6:26 PM  
Blogger Alisyn said...

You gave your daughter the gift of life, and if that's not love, I don't know what is. You are a wonderful mother and a wonderful role model for Thalia, and for what it's worth, I really admire you.

5/31/06, 6:38 PM  
Anonymous misha said...

too funny. I was just yammering on to my daughter about how much I love her because can't she tell!?! I am on my sixth load of laundry for her today! I stay home everyday to be with her! and as I was yammering I realized how very unloving and childish I sounded.

weed or no weed I needed what you wrote. who cares what I do or don't quite do? I love her.

5/31/06, 6:56 PM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

This thing called "Love," I understand. This thing called "Folding Laundry" -- could you elaborate?


I'm pretty sure that one has nothing to do with the other.

5/31/06, 7:22 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

How is it that in three paragraphs you have managed to turn my world on its ear?

I have thought this very thing; although no where near as cogently. I suppose it's not love we're feeling when we try to quantify it in terms of recordable proof. We're just gearing up for resentment. After thinking about it, now more than ever I see that love is not a tangible thing.

5/31/06, 7:24 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I just want to say that that comment from your dad was really sweet. He obviously loves you very much. And I'm sure that you love your daughter just like that, unconditionally and forever. No one can take the place of mama.

5/31/06, 7:38 PM  
Blogger Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

It doesn't work like that. You have chosen to work because you love her so much that you do whatever is best for her.

5/31/06, 7:46 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Don't feel bad. Both my kids love dad best, and I'm the one home with them all day, every day. When Daddy walks in the room, I am chopped liver I tell ya.

Do you think a dad would ever worry about whether mom loves the kids more than him? Why do we do this to ourselves? Like we don't already have enough mom guilt!

5/31/06, 8:06 PM  
Blogger Stephanie T. said...

I would say "dad" is very wise.

When kids are grown-ups, they don't remember who changed their diaper, they remember whose eyes lit up when they walked into a room. They remember who listened to them, who encouraged them, and who spent quality time with them (NOT quantity of time. Some SAHM's spend hours a day with their kids but their attention might only be focused on the kids for a small part of that time.)

5/31/06, 8:14 PM  
Anonymous JGS said...

Okay, your Dad's comment brought tears to my eyes. I certainly don't know you as well as you do, but from what I see, the way you talk about him, the way you have set up this whole blog to try to work issues out that affect your relationship with him, the way you work in order to support your family, how strongly you love him is not really at issue. Maybe you don't feel the same kind of connection you think you "should." I know that happened to me. While I was at work, my wife and Okapis were getting closer and I didn't feel this strong "love" towards them that I thought I was supposed to or would. But it did come with time. I just feel like the question you're asking is unfair, but that there might be something behind why you're asking it. If there is something behind it and you can figure out what it is, you can do something about it if you want, instead of feeling just this sense of not being good enough, or living him enough. Did that make any sense? I hope so. You're a unique Mommy and just because it is different for you doesn't mean it is wrong.

5/31/06, 9:07 PM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

My son routinely says, "NO MOMMY! YOU GO AWAY! I WANT DADDY!" Today, when I stayed home because he was sick, he sobbed for an hour wanting Daddy. It's hard to remember he's 2 (almost) and not take it personally, because it can and it DOES hurt my feelings sometimes. My friend Elke said, "You're the one he pushes against and he NEEDS you there to push against." Maybe she's right. Still... it's hard.

5/31/06, 9:10 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

This is something that goes though my head quite a lot as well. Why is it that I get so caught up in the thought that if my housekeeping is less than perfect, I am somehow a bad mother. Conditioning must have begun early.

Really, though, I wonder if my insecurity comes from the thankless, unfullfilling drudgery that is keeping the home clean. I'm feeling unfullfilled, yet I'm spending all this time joined at the hip with the impling? What kind of rotten mother am I? No wonder she lights up like it's Christmas whenever the hub comes home.
Not very fun being around a depressed mom.

So I stepped back, when I read your post, and remembered what's really important. Fuck the dust bunnies. Fuck the laundry and the dishes and the floor that will always have to be cleaned.
I remember that the best times are looking into the implings eyes, and grinning and staring and grinning, and then laughing together for no reason whatever. It's just wonderful to be doing absolutely nothing but sharing her joy. She has so much of it to share. And now, I do too.

Thanks.

5/31/06, 9:45 PM  
Blogger kidslovecandy said...

Of course you love her and she you and hubby too.
I think deeply about my kids all the time. Such worries are a great big a luxury. Every child in the world, should be so lucky.
As I go about the mind numbing chores of daily family life I often think... will my kids remember what I did for them? Will they someday have patience for me? Will they drive me around? Take me on vacation? And listen with feigned enthusiasm to things I say that aren't interesting or don't make sense? Will they someday hold my hand when I cross the street?
Then I will be so lucky.
It's all OK. Juicy stuff to chew on, but it's all OK.

5/31/06, 9:46 PM  
Blogger me said...

love for our children is shown in what we do to make their lives happy and healthy. whatever we do to that end is all that matters in the long run. my boys range in age from 7 to 16, i have been the at home parent, and my hub has a job that keeps him on the road almost 8 months out of the year. when the kids were younger they came to me for comfort because i was the one who gave it to them the majority of the time, but as they age they remember all the fun crazy things they did with their dad, and i think still to this day they cherish their time with him more, because he is not with them all the time. i am just mom...always there. raising kids, no matter what you do, is hard on both parents. at home or working, we all struggle every day. it must seem hard now because you seem to question this alot in your posts. have no fear you will look back on this one day and see everything you did was what was best at that time. relax...save your stress for when she starts to date! :)

5/31/06, 9:50 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Just before I went back to work after Bub was born, I tried to figure out what it means to love a baby. It's not based on a shared sense of humour or enjoyment of one another's conversation - and it's not like falling in love (or at least not always) with a rush of euphoria and longing. It's not like the love I have for my mother, who always makes me feel valued and secure. I was asking myself, how do I know I love my son? How do I measure it?

Then I went back to work and found myself smiling as the end of the day approached... I couldn't wait to peek around the corner at day-care and see the Bub sitting on the grass, chubby legs crossed, splashing his hand in the wading pool, or crawling in hot pursuit of the other children.

I always loved him - but I couldn't feel that love until I had a chance to get away from him a bit, for awhile.

I don't know what's going on with you or what's behind your post, but the love we have for our children is something we can take as a given. We don't have to feel it all the time. We don't have to prove it. It's there, and it will be there when we - and they - need it.

5/31/06, 9:51 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Me (above) makes a good point that kids go to who is most familiar when seeking comfort - doesn't have anything to do with who they love more. Plus, don't you think it is good for your husband that it should be this way? As you said before, being a stay at home dad is not so easy. It seems right that he should have the satisfaction of being the one Thalia gravitates to in times of need. And, as your dad points out, your devotion to Thalia is certainly not less because you are not the stay-at-home parent. Clearly you adore her inside out.

Hee-hee, it seems kind of weird to offer intimate thoughts to someone I only know on a blog.

5/31/06, 10:44 PM  
Anonymous dorothy said...

I just got done reading an essay in the book The Bitch in the House that talks about this very subject - how timely.

As a working mother, I've thought about all that. I had a SAHM, myself, as did most of my friends. Perhaps the key word in your middle point is "appears." Do we care what other people think?

Of course we do.

5/31/06, 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Nila said...

My kids who are 7 & 9 years old ask me quite often who I love more, they even ask if I love their dad more than them. My response is always "I love you all huge, but in different ways because you're all so different".

Right now the parent at home is meeting Thalia's needs, which is natural, but before you know it, there will be a shift, and you, her role model will be the center of her universe.

When my kids are looking for a water balloon fight, they're all about the love for their dad. When they're hurt, it's all about me. It's difficult to define love, and find the perfect balance.

5/31/06, 11:38 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Such amazing insight, everyone. I'm impressed as always with the comments here. Holy cow.

and dorothy: yes, appears was a very deliberate choice, perceptive girl! I certainly know we both love her with all our heart. It was just a thought I had that suddenly made a lot of sense. (the lovely mrs davis has been begging me to read that book as well, btw.)

5/31/06, 11:46 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Adam Smith said...

It's a good question. I've been a go to work dad and a stay at home dad. Do I love him more now? I definitely felt a separation from him when I was going to work; for the at-work parent, life doesn't change as much. When I started staying home with him, my emotional (and intellectual) life was turned inside-out. The boy is definitely more a part of me. I do more for him. I taught him to talk! I'm teaching him to talk! Wow!

Well, what can anybody say, really? Looked at in terms of human history, we're all supposed to be working side by side with our kids on subsistence farms, or apprenticing them to our trades. We're not supposed to be as separated as we are, but that's just life in the 21st century. You have to make money.

Just love and enjoy the kid every chance you get and let all the bullshit go.

Will I follow that advice? No!

6/1/06, 12:18 AM  
Anonymous chelle said...

I never thought about love this way. My daughter worships her father and he leaves every morning for work. He is gone all day (or for a business trip) and she asks all day "Where's Daddy going?"...Yet when I leave to throw out the garbage she does the same thing and is just as excited to see me return.

Each of us have a unique relationship with our children. Love is never equated to how many poopy diapers one has changed!

At least in my humble opinion.

6/1/06, 12:31 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

"The Bitch in the House" is good, but the follow-up, "The Bastard on the Couch," might even be better.

6/1/06, 12:46 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Q was (and still is, to a lesser extent) more clingy to SwingDaddy than to me. The first caregiver we interviewed was oblivious to this and kept saying, "Oh yes, he wants Mommy" every time he cried, when the baby was reaching for my husband. No surprise, we parted ways with that lady after a day.

I've thought hard about whether I should be worried about Q appearing to prefer his dad, just like you mention. However, each time I come to the conclusion that I feel secure that we all love each other in our little family. The pressure was actually a little greater on SwingDaddy, because it was tough for him to get a break from childcare back then.

Love your posts, Mom-101!

6/1/06, 1:05 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

You slay me with your word girl.

This couldn't be more true. I find myself unconciously needing to appear that I love my son the most. Even though I too am a working mom and, of course, my husband loves him the most too. I don't know whether to feel embarassed for admitting that or not..

6/1/06, 5:31 AM  
Blogger macboudica said...

Because we are all unique, people love, show their love, in different ways. And kids love both of their parents differently if in the same quantity(if love is even quantifiable?).

6/1/06, 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Kvetch said...

I can't say anything different or better than everyone before me. But rest assured that love differs for and from each person who is fortunate enough to give and to receive.

6/1/06, 11:52 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

As the SAH, currently preferred parent, I can say that the fact that my son showers me with affection and nearly always wants to come to me for comfort when he's upset rather than his father actually drives me insane. I feel like I am always on call, even when my husband is around and actively participating in parenting. I have almost no time to myself, and almost no privacy. Even the few moments I snatch to myself each day-- to shave my legs for once, say, or read some blogs-- are haunted by guilt, knowing that my son misses my presence.

I am counting the days until he changes his mind and becomes a Daddy's boy for a while, for a change.

And as a big sister, oldest cousin to many, and former nanny, I know that he WILL change his mind about which parent he prefers spending time with. Repeatedly.

And as a former child, I also know that through it all, he'll love his mother and father both, just as deeply, for different reasons, no matter which one of us is changing the diapers or folding the clothes.

6/1/06, 12:27 PM  
Blogger Binky said...

Me, personally? If I measured my love by what I do for my daughter, I'd report MYSELF to DCS. I mean, the ridiculous mistakes I've made, the states of uncleanliness I've left the house in, the fact I have no qualms about letting her cry herself to sleep nightly...whatever. I don't rate my love based on anyone else's standards. The way I love her, just like the way I take care of her, is this intrinsic thing that isn't good or evil or better or worse than anyone else's modus operandi. Oh, but if you were wondering who in the family Tolby loves the most--it's the dog. Definitely the dog. Just ask her. She'll tell you.

6/1/06, 3:34 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

whether I'm worried that her daddy appears to love Thalia more than I do

I totally get what you are saying here. It's not what you think or what Nate thinks or what Thalia thinks. It's what the people around us think.

HUGE concern of working parents. This working parent, at least.

(and yes I know all parents work - I'm talking about OUTSIDE the home)

6/1/06, 3:36 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

alright, Jack Handy. that's some good s**t you've got there, lady. stop bogarting!

p.s. yep, it's a thunker, this subject.

6/1/06, 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

Love is a verb! It is the act of doing that shows those what we feel.

6/3/06, 5:22 PM  

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