Those of you who have been reading my blog from its inception (pretty much just Jaci and Bree) might remember one of my very first entries about my feelings of having my identity overtaken by being “Brianna’s Mommy”. Later, I also wrote an entry about a discussion that took place on my mommy board in reference to a survey which showed most mothers saying they loved their babies/children more than their husbands. The subsequent discussion on that board was about whether anyone wanted to admit to that. Most moms posted that they loved their spouse differently than their child. As I recall, very few admitted to loving child or spouse more than the other. Then, several months ago, author Ayelet Waldman was on Oprah after causing a bit of a bruh-haha over her essay where she flat out admits to loving her husband more than her four children.
HelenKay brought this topic up for discussion again today on her blog.Monica wrote a post on her thoughts about the subject (she’s got pretty strong feelings against Waldman’s proclamation). I left the following comment on HelenKay’s blog but decided to bring it back here so I could mull it over some more:
I remember the Oprah appearance (I don’t watch but it was discussed in my playgroup) and I ended up reading a synopsis/link. I have a mix of feelings about what she said, I don’t agree with her persay, but I can kind of, in a peripheral sense, understand what she’s saying.
I guess, when I read her essay (and I did before posting here just to refresh my memory) I think to myself… would what she is saying be more acceptable to people if her children were grown? Is it expected that you love your children more than your husband your entire life? Or only while they’re young? Once you’re a parent, is that supposed to be your main identity, your passion, your reason for being?
I think those are questions that every parent struggles with. Should she be vilified for her honesty? I don’t know.
At least she is still loving and caring for her children. Not dumping them on 495 when they make her angry and then hitting them with her car when they try to get back in.
Can you sense the ambivalence in my response? I don’t agree with the depth of feeling that Waldman expresses in her essay. I will, for many years to come, place Brianna’s basic physical and emotional needs (I said needs, not wants) before mine and before my husband’s. But I personally have days where I do love Brianna more and don’t want to picture a “God forbid” moment where something happens to her. But I also have those feelings for my husband. He’s the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, my soul mate, my best friend. He too, is irreplaceable to me and does he deserve any less of my love?
I’m 30 years old. My husband is 32. Neither of us expects our parents to put us before themselves or their spouses. People sneer at mothers who experience “empty nest syndrome” and who suddenly find themselves in a marriage where they have nothing to talk to their husband’s about because the children are grown and gone. Mothers who have based their entire existence around their children, their children’s lives and interests. But, at the same time, people have proclaimed Waldman to be a bad mother for her honesty and her feelings. I’ve heard many a therapist proclaim to patients “Feelings are never wrong”. Yet there are plenty of people happy to stand in line and tell Waldman just that. Is it because her children are young and dependent on her? Is it because they’re afraid that their spouse doesn’t love them with the depth of emotion that Waldman shows hers? In today’s society of divorce and split families, wouldn’t people be glad that here is a couple that can show their children that love can survive and flourish and that marriage can be forever? Was it just the fact that she said she could survive something happening to her children but not to her husband? What if she’d said that she was strong enough as an individual to survive the loss of both? That yes, she loved her husband more, but could live life without him. Would that have been okay? Were people just that uncomfortable with the intensity of emotion that she expressed for her husband. I’m trying to understand.
Part of the reason I wrestle with this topic is because, as a stay at home mom, I do struggle with what my identity is. In remembering that I have worth as an individual, separate and apart from being Brianna’s Mommy. Don’t get me wrong. I love that role. I thank God daily that He decided to have me fill the position. But I don’t want that to be all I am. I don’t want my husband and friends to see that as all I am. Someone I love helped me re-remember this week that there’s more to me than just mommy (thank you J). And isn’t that a good thing? Or should my love for my child supersede everything else in my life, including my love for my husband and our relationship?
Wow. Heavy stuff, huh? Blame HelenKay 🙂 But I am interested on any thoughts you all might have.