Thank you so much for your response, Brooke. I love that you surprised me by moving up several levels and pointing out this powerful silver lining.
I gave some thought to this idea of simply taking his comments and requests as beautiful proof of his interest and involvement in his role as a father, and I am committed to working in that direction.
I am sensing some initial resistance around this, and it comes from my being, in general, the first-line caregiver for our kids — you’ve heard me say this so many times before 😀 but he prioritizes his work so he works long hours and is out of town regularly, whereas I keep more flexible hours and choose to spend more time with them. (We have a nanny but only half of the week so I can pick them up from school/daycare myself also.)
I’ve worked hard these past few months to clean up my thoughts around this choice I’m making, and I feel I am (or thought I was!) there now. At least I fully enjoy my time alone with the children, which has been a life-changing shift for me.
But part of me now feels miffed that he wants it both ways — to have me handle everything on my own and graciously when he’s not here, and then when he is, rearrange everything so he can swoop back in, instantly switching my mothering mode and creating the conditions for him to feel valued and included the moment he steps in.
I feel it somehow negates the value of what I do when he’s not there to see it — maybe that’s actually what I want to show him when he’s here, “Look how self-sufficient I am, I got this!” And it also feels like a childish ego thing — “Why would I make this easy for you when I work so hard at it? You have to fight for your place!” (which he then does, by fighting with me 🙄).
As I write this I see that what I need to do to feel better is actually what I WANT to do.
Of course I want him to know we’re all happy when he walks in the door, and we’ve kept his place in our hearts every minute. Of course I want him to have a great, caring relationship with the kids that does not involve me. Of course I want them to get their fill of one another during the time they do get to spend together. Of course I want to see him being the great Papa that he is, and tell him so.
Of course I’m an AMAZING mother, perceptive and flexible, who can be everything to the kids when it’s just me, and step back to let him do his thing when he’s here.
Completely confident, completely unthreatened. That’s me. 🙂
Thank you for letting me hash this out with you! If you have anything to add or suggest in light of this new tirade, I’m all ears.