Kids First? Nah.

us 2

us 1(Sorry, kids, you’re not in these pictures. And look how happy we are!)

Here’s the thing: I don’t put my kids first. I’m serious. When I hear my friends talk about taking their kids to Disney World, I think, “I would never take my kids to Disney World! I’m going to the beach and the kids can come along if they want.” When I hear someone talk about being sick of listening to Wiggles songs in the car, I think, “What is wrong with you?” My kids are growing up on a steady aural diet of Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, and the Stones. (Okay, maybe a little 80s trash thrown in too. Sorry, Dad.) They should all probably be growing up on Mozart, but, oh well, we can’t win ‘em all.

I am Mean Mommy.

Maybe I’m Mean Mommy because it’s what’s good for the kids. For example, I have no trouble sending my kid to bed hungry when he doesn’t like lentils. (Mr. Okayest is bound to swoop in and take the credit for that one.) I am proud to say that my 3-year-old’s favorite foods do include salmon, plain yogurt, and blueberries.

Maybe I’m Mean Mommy because that’s how I was raised. My parents were a team, a unit, and I knew I couldn’t play either one of them against the other. They put each other first, and we kids knew that we came second. You might think that would make a kid feel insecure, but it made me feel completely secure. I knew where I stood. I stood under them – under their safe canopy of intertwined arms.

Maybe I’m Mean Mommy because it’s what’s good for my marriage. I am not going to win any friends with this one, but I do try to put my husband first. I promised him, during our eight childless years, that we are what is most important, whether children come to us or not. After fifteen rounds of infertility treatments, one miscarriage, one adoption, and two IVF twins, my husband is still my favorite person in the whole world. It goes both ways, too. Have you ever heard that saying, “The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother”? I believe that works in our household.

Or, let’s face it, maybe I’m Mean Mommy because I just really like the beach and Zeppelin.

us 3(Sorry kids, you’re not in that picture either. Look at that empty carseat behind us!)

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15 thoughts on “Kids First? Nah.

  1. I have your back on this one, you are spot on. I have two wonderful, responsible,successful, fully-grown citizens of the world as proof!

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  2. This is such a sweet story. Marriage, not children, come first. It is the relationship that will last beyond our children, who, if we have done our jobs properly, will leave us behind to pursue their own lives. And it brought back so many memories to hear about Ruth’s Tea Room! And yes, I totally believed she was Miss Ruth, who knew? So sad to hear it is gone but so many memories for all of us.

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  3. Absolutely!! I’m at the other end of the cycle (Daughter is 26, Son is 23, Grandson is 16 months) – kids grow up and then you’re left, well, with each other (yeah, yeah, and a mortgage, a dog and some serious holiday souvenir hoarding issues that still bind you financially and necessarily together), but essentially, you can’t just build your marriage on raising kids can you?!

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  4. So, what happens if what your husband wants is something you feel is abusive, neglectful, or just plain wrong for your children? Is he more important than their well-being?

    For the record, I completely and totally disagree with all that you wrote (though I respect your opinions so long as you are ready, able, and willing to protect your children if you ever need to- even from your husband) but my child’s favorite foods include salmon cakes with kale, dandilion greens, and spinach pulp, unsalted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, blueberry/raspberry/strawberry/kale smoothies with plain greek yogurt which are all freshly juiced and pureed, sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers and onions and keifer. She is a dream to take out into public and I cannot remember the last time she wasn’t complimented on her behavior. She is independent, a fantastic sleeper, flexible and follows directions. She’s not even 2 years old.

    I reject the saying “happy mom, happy baby.” I think that’s ridiculous. Why not “happy baby, happy mom?” When are her father and I most happy? When we are spending time together as a family- going to the zoo, to the park, cuddling on the bed during “family snuggle time” or going out on a walk that is what pure bliss is. Will we be happy when she grows up and moves out? Absolutely. It’s not like she’s going to disappear off the face of the planet. She’ll visit- we’ll still be a family. We’ll all adapt. But for now? Our job first and foremost is to raise her well. Just because we focus on her while she’s a child doesn’t mean that we can’t focus on each other later. Childhood lasts for a very short time and then we’ll have the rest of our lives to connect in a different way.

    As for your argument in regards to only having one another when children move out? What about in cases where there is an age spread? Or medical issues? What if it’s actually FAR more likely that she will be all that I have in the future? Or vice versa? There’s not one reason that we can’t both be close with one another while putting her first. We can have our alone time once she goes to bed and I can’t imagine any trip being a vacation without her by our sides.

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  5. PS, I didn’t actually say anything about “happy mom, happy baby”, nor did I refer to any argument about only having one another when the children move out. Not sure what you’re talking about!

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  6. I love this! My thoughts exactly. I can’t say I love my baby more than my husband, vice versa, or love them the same. It is a completely different kind of love. He’s my best friend, my biggest fan, and our marriage is my top priority. Or at least that’s what I strive for. My business, bottles, diapers, errands, etc etc get in the way more often than I’d prefer. I don’t have breakdowns about mommy guilt, I have breakdowns when it’s been too long since we’ve had a real date. I want my daughter to grow up and say that her childhood rocked, her parents are fun, and God damn do they love each other!

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  7. Ahhhh the Tea Room!! Loved it there!! As you know I was a single mom for many years so naturally there were times that my son came first. But there were also times that I did deserve to have for myself and so I took it – with the help of my parents of course.. moving on. Now that I am in my relationship – we do not always put our children first. Our children grow up and the older and more independent they become, they less they need you. Before you know it – you find that your children have their own lives that they are living. They have their friends, school, sports, activities, etc. We look at this way – if we aren’t friends with each other and not able to enjoy each other and spend time together without our children it’s not going to be very fun when they grow up and move out!! When the kids are gone we better hope we get along or we are going to be in some trouble and we are gonna be very lonely!!! And by the way – my son has grown up listening to ALL kinds of music too and I wouldn’t change a thing. And you can ask my mom and dad what I grew up listening to and I can guarantee – it wasn’t the Wiggles 😉

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