Lately, my husband has been having some parenting troubles with Pumpkin. She seems to have very little respect for his authority, and she screams and fights with him nearly every time he tries to be authoritative with her. But other than that, they are best friends.
Could it be that he's just not me? Have I turned into the only "boss" around here?
I hope this isn't the case, but I guess it could be worse. She could be listening to no one. But Hubby has been getting extremely frustrated when he can't seem to handle her meltdowns himself. He passes all the mess and drama over to me when the situation gets out of control.
This is the basis for my rant today. I have reached my limit with this situation. I didn't sign up to be the only "boss". It's hard being the only "bad guy" around here.
So when it is finished cooking (using my innate mother-talent of being super stealthy) I get myself a bowl, and go back to my previous engagement: thinking about what to write for a Wifey Rant. Hubby and Pumpkin's playtime is in full swing, so this is my time to myself. After they wrap up a game of do laps of the house chasing daddy with the football he gets himself a bowl of the oatmeal.
Now, this is where things get a bit messy, and I don't mean the oatmeal.
I say, as he is scooping it out into his bowl, "Make sure you save enough for Pumpkin for lunch." He does, and continues back to the living room, anticipating that he will give her some bites if she asks.
I knew from the get-go that this wasn't going to fly with Pumpkin, but I let it play out. I do that sometimes, especially if I feel like I have already used up my Nag Quota for the day, which I probably did. He gave her a couple of bites, and that just wasn't cutting it for her. She started freaking out because she wanted to hold the spoon. Hubby said no. Screaming commenced.
Now, if this were me, which it usually is, I would have just gotten her a bowl of her own to begin with! I told him it was for her lunch, but that really didn't matter... if she is hungry, I let her eat. Why not just get her some now? Why let it get to a point where earth-shattering screams are coming out of our sweet baby girl? Why? Why? Why?
You may not know this about me, but I am what you might call, a Scream-Controller. I do anything I can to avoid her screaming at me. It saves my ears, and she never has the opportunity to think that screaming actually works. I tackle the drama before the scream. I have an array of distraction and avoidance techniques. Probably makes no sense at all, but its what I do to ensure my sanity. Because this IS the screaming phase, right? Age 2? It will eventually go away, right? Maybe I'm delusional?
So, eventually I am left with no choice but to leave my post at the keyboard to handle the spoon scandal myself. I go to the stove, scoop her out the oatmeal and put it down in front of her. Then to find myself the recipient of a sour look from Hubby.
The whole situation wasn't a big deal to me. It felt like a pretty normal experience, but then it hit me that to Hubby it's another incident where he has come face-to-face with the fact that he doesn't know Pumpkin as well as I do. I am a stay at home mother and he is working father. I spend every minute of every day with her, and he does not. It makes sense that I know how to deal with her more effectively, right?
He just recently came home from a seven week course, out of province, where we only saw him on weekends. Seven weeks is a long time in the life of a toddler and I think Daddy has become someone to play with, not listen to.
It baffles me. He can patiently attend the most elaborate drawn-out tea parties. He can dance the two-step to the credits of her favorite movie until the last credit rolls. He can put in a mean ponytail. He can build a blanket tent in the living room like it's nobody's business. But he has lost his authority with Pumpkin. Which leaves ME with a hell of a lot more to deal with myself.
And all the while, I sit here wondering who I feel more sorry for.
I have a daughter that thinks of her father as a playmate. I have a husband that is hurt because he is being shown no respect when he tries to be authoritative. And then there's me, a mother wanting to scream because neither of us know how to fix it!
So by the time I got this far in writing this post, I was just going to wrap things up and leave it open to suggestions for how to fix this. But then as I scanned for edits, I stumbled upon something disturbing, yet interesting.
See all those MISTAKES throughout my rant? Initially, I was only using them to keep track of moments where I thought Hubby was doing something wrong, so I could bring them to his attention later. I was going to delete them before posting this, UNTIL I realized...
They are MINE. Not his.
MISTAKE #1- I should have warned him that she would react like that to the oatmeal. I knew that she would. I assumed he knew this, but how could he? He hasn't been here much since her oatmeal obsession began.
MISTAKE #2- Pumpkin is in that independent stage now. Sharing a spoon with Daddy was NEVER gonna fly from the get-go. I should have warned him about this too, but I didn't because I didn't want him to think I was being a know-it-all. Maybe I should try to better understand what he is going through and help him figure it out?
MISTAKE #3- I handled it, but I should have let him figure out what HE should do. How will he ever get through this stage with her and build his own "boss" identity if he doesn't figure out what works for him? I can give him all the tips and warnings in the world, but unless he actually makes changes himself, I am enabling the situation, not handling it. I step in because I can't handle the sound of the screaming, but that's not right.
MISTAKE #4- I shouldn't compare apples to oranges. My role is challenging because I have to go through all the trial and error in teaching and discipline with Pumpkin, BUT his life is challenging because he DOESN'T get to. I forget that sometimes. We both have our struggles as parents in different roles but the main thing is that we stick together and work as a team. We need to lean on each other for support and help each other when things are tough.
Right now, it's tough for both of us. I am by no means letting him off the hook here either. I have just discovered that the way I react to the situations, as well as the way I am thinking about it may be doing more harm than good. I can't make him try, and I can't make her listen. All I can do is my own part and try to help rather than hinder.
I'm going to have his back and support him as he hopefully begins to make his own discoveries and changes to make things better. Because I am his wife, and that's my job.
Mistakes and all.