Before I had kids, I would find myself daydreaming about what my husband would be like as a father. He wasn't a kid person per se, but he was a man with a big heart, a sense of humor, and a solid moral compass. Above all, he kept his promises. He was a lot like my own father, a strong, kind man who always made sure his kids felt seen and made family a priority.
For years, I held onto the belief that my husband was going to be an amazing dad who showed up for our future kids, a super dad of sorts. Five years and two kids later, he has lived up to this cape-crusader daydream I had imagined years before. The moment our daughter was born, I saw my husband's world shift. I witnessed the first time he held her in his arms and the look of love as tears filled his eyes. He bonded with her instantly and the connection the two of them have only grows stronger every day. Two years later her little brother was born, and my husband adores him in an entirely different, but profound way.
He is the type of father every child should have, but sometimes I feel a small dose of jealousy. After all, it wasn't that long ago when he used to light up for me like that.
Raising two spirited kids, I felt prepared for all the feelings I'd experience as a parent: the awe of growing a life and giving birth; the overwhelming love you feel for another human being; the fear of something happening to them; the joy of hearing their first words; the anxiety over their first steps and waving goodbye for their first day of school.
What I didn't anticipate was the way my husband adores our children. He lights up when they walk in the room and pours his attention on them like its syrup on morning pancakes. He is the type of father every child should have, but sometimes I feel a small dose of jealousy. After all, it wasn't that long ago when he used to light up for me like that. I find myself jealous of the gifts he buys the kids because he loves to spoil them, or the way he always gives into our daughter and lets her climb into our bed for the evening because she's suddenly scared of the dark.
On some level, I knew becoming parents would bring big changes to our relationship. I anticipated sleepless nights and busy days. I knew it would be stressful and exhausting at times. I stepped into the new phase of our lives with an understanding that having children creates a pint-size, but monumental shift in your relationship. What I didn't anticipate was the jealousy of the new relationship my husband would form with our kids. The feeling of being replaced by two tiny human beings who were barley able to carry on a rational conversation or spoon feed themselves without making a catastrophic mess had me seeing green.
It has taken me a while to process where those negative feelings were coming from and to truly step back and put the entire experience into perspective. Thankfully, over the past couple years, I've learned a few things that helped me overcome those feelings and focus on what's really important.
First, I had to take a reality check. Yes, my husband has a very close bond with our kids, but that's a good thing. I also have a close bond with them, but it's important for them to have their own unique relationship with their father, separate from mine and theirs. I need to give them the space to develop their relationship on their own terms, and recognize that it doesn't take away from our marriage. If anything, it makes it stronger.
Secondly, I reminded myself how amazing it is that our kids will grow up with a father who is present, loving, and willing to take the time and energy to create real, lasting relationships with his children. I also took ownership for those times when our marriage felt void of romance or spark. If I wanted more intimacy, I needed to act more intimate toward my husband. The more I light up when I see him, the more he smiles the next time I walk in the room.
The third thing I did was clearly communicate my feelings of jealousy to my husband. Yes, at first he thought it was a little absurd, but as I explained it more he began to understand where I was coming from. Sometimes talking it out is all it really takes to get past some of those tough emotions.
I remind myself of how lucky our kids are to have a super dad who's greatest power is love for his family.
Lastly, we made a plan of action. We decided the best thing to do would be to create boundaries in some areas of our day-to-day lives to help keep our parenting roles and our relationship separate. For example, our daughter does still occasionally climb into bed with us at night, but we make sure to discuss it beforehand and agree on which nights work best for us both. Having those extra snuggles with our daughter while she's young is priceless, but so is having our time alone and true intimacy as a married couple.
There are still moments when jealousy creeps up and I find myself longing for the days when I was showered with all the love and attention, but then I pause and take in the moments unfolding before me. Our kids laughter echoing through the halls and the bear hugs my husband gives them when he first walks in the door after a long day at work. I remind myself of how lucky our kids are to have a super dad who's greatest power is love for his family, and that goes for all three of us.