Postcards from Mommywood: Who’s the Boss in This Family?
The surprising lesson learned when mom gives up control.
It’s a running joke in our house. Ask my daughter: ‘Who’s the boss of the family?’ and her answer is always the same.
Depending on his mood, my husband either good-naturedly takes Madeline’s response in stride or points to her unwavering belief that I am the last word on everything as evidence of my overwhelming need to be in charge. I’ve never refuted that fact and have always simply believed that I have to be the one to keep all the balls in the air when it comes to family activities and everything concerning our daughter’s well-being.
My husband, Jim, is a wonderful, doting father, who, truth be told, has a lot more patience for the increasing number of showdowns that are taking place with our five-year old daughter. He has also always taken the late shift getting up with Madeline whenever she needs something, which is pretty much five nights out of seven. Based on the anecdotal evidence I’ve collected from my friends with young children, he’s one of the more hands-on dads in our circle.
When we came home from China with Madeline in November of 2005, Jim had to return to work two days later because he’d used up all his vacation time during our trip.
I remember that first morning being alone with my daughter and feeling equally exhilarated and terrified. I’d never even changed a diaper before we adopted her, but I quickly found that I loved everything about taking care of her. I relished bundling her up and wheeling her carriage up to town. I quickly adapted to having to take her pretty much everywhere I went, which included the commuter train in New York City in all kinds of weather (I learned to navigate a stroller really quickly). I loved the quiet time we shared every night when I sang a lullaby to her while she finished her last bottle of the day. Motherhood is the toughest – and most rewarding job – I’ve ever had.
During our first year of parenthood, Jim was there virtually every night to give Madeline her bath and assumed the night and early-morning shifts without a complaint. On the weekends, we spent as much time as possible together with both of us getting an equal amount of time to run out to the gym or do errands. Without a support system to rely on except for the random babysitter now and then, from day one it’s pretty much been “three of us against the universe” as my husband likes to say, and that’s the way it remains. It’s not always easy, but our ‘system’ seems to work for us.
But the one thing I’ve learned about parenthood thus far is that as soon as you’ve got something down pat, things change.
Once Madeline turned two and entered preschool, a whole host of new responsibilities were added to the mix. Because my job as a freelance writer offers a lot more flexibility (and pays a whole lot less) than my husband’s, I took on virtually all the childcare responsibilities and in doing so, became ‘the boss.’ Over time, I came to believe that I had more of a say in how we raise Madeline.