It must be said that I have never once worried about leaving my kids with my husband. I’ve talked about the “bumbling dad” before, and that man certainly isn’t the one who is the father of my three kids. My husband is every bit as competent as I am when it comes to matters of the kids — sometimes more so. For instance, he has such skill at cleaning up a nearly sleeping puke-covered kiddo that I’d vote him in charge of that task every time. Diaper duty? Professional grade. So while he is capable and loving and an all-around awesome dad, I’ve noticed that we’re just wired differently when it comes to certain things, like time spent away from the kids.
I’ve documented my struggles with mom guilt. From leaving the kids at the gym daycare to the real daycare — it’s hard for me to detach myself from them. And although a couple of days of daycare has been the best thing for all of us, I find myself having a tough time doing anything for myself outside of those hours. It makes sense: You carry a child for nine months (or in Jenn’s case, for an eternity). They are attached to your boob 24/7 for months. They’re pretty helpless little beasts, unable to fend for themselves for the first years of their lives. And even when they’re starting to show you they can be more independent, you come downstairs to find them standing on a chair, surfing on a picture knocked down from the wall (or is that just me?). Evolutionarily speaking, moms are more attached to their kids physically than dads. Dads were designed to do the easy part and then go hunt and gather and bring home the literal and figurative bacon. While all of that is changing — moms work more these days and dads stay home way more than they did in the caveman days — my brain is struggling to catch up with that gender equality.
My husband recently took a half-day off of work to go watch some March Madness with friends at a bar. He checked with me before making the plans and, of course, I was cool with it. I encouraged him to go. I even completely forgot that he said he’d be home early, so I wasn’t even mad when he came home later than he’d originally planned. I was jealous though. Not of the fact that he was able to go have fun for a few hours, but of the fact that he did so with minimal guilt. (He said he felt a little guilty; not sure I believe him!) He’s used to being away from the kids more; if he hadn’t been watching games, he would have been at work. I’m used to being attached to my kids; a breastfeeding 6-month-old limits the amount of time you can be away without having a “situation” with your boobs. Plus, being away means pumping either while I’m gone or beforehand so there’s milk, and honestly that’s all just so much work for a little time away.
Some days it’s true that I wish I could turn off the part of my brain that feels the need to be with my babies at all times. I wish there wasn’t even a thing called “mom guilt.” (I’ve read plenty about mom guilt but never once have I come across an article about “dad guilt.”) But I honestly wouldn’t trade it; I love the baby snuggles and being attached to a little one. And as my surfing-on-the-couch daughter has shown me, they’re only little for so long. I’ll keep working on my mom guilt. Sometimes it’ll just mean ignoring that look of slight desperation in my husband’s eyes when I tell him I’m heading out by myself for a couple of hours.
Do you and your significant other handle time away from the kiddos differently? Do either of you feel guilty for it? —Erin