My biggest parenting mistake

Parenting can be hard work! I’ve been a mum for almost 8 years now, and there has been lots of things I’ve gotten wrong over this time.

Like the time I gave my 6 week old a higher dosage of paracetamol accidentally after his vaccinations and phoned Healthline in tears, convinced he was going to die, or social welfare was going to take him away from me for being such an awful mother. The nurse laughed at me and told me he’d be fine, but that he might sleep well for a few hours. (He didn’t)

Or the time that we got home after being away on a holiday when our baby girl had learned to pull herself up on furniture. Not thinking, I put my cup of tea where I always did, and she pulled herself up, picked up the cup and poured it all down her front. I ran with her to the bathroom and sat in the cold shower with her, before realising that the cup of tea had been there for about 20 minutes, and her screams were because of the cold water on her chest, not because of burns.

Or the time that our eldest uttered his first sentence and we rejoiced before the realisation dawned that his very first sentence was a precisely enunciated and perfectly in context “For fuck’s sake”. Woops.

Or the time I took all three to the doctors appointment at the end of a long rainy day and, in an effort to keep them quiet, told them that there was a grumpy dragon that lived in the ceiling cavity, and if we were too loud he’d come down to eat us. It kept them quiet, but Mr 5 is still terrified any time I say we need to go to the doctor.

These are all mistakes, but my biggest mistake is different.

My biggest mistake was making my husband feel less than.

I took over. I was Mum, the almighty.

It started when our firstborn was tiny. I’d rush in to take over if he cried. I’d correct my husband on the way he was holding him, or burping him, or feeding him. I made him feel like he was less than. Less than me. Less than a good father.

It carried on as we added two more children to our family, and they grew. I’d monitor what they were eating, and how they were playing. I’d scoop hurt babies up and kiss their grazed knees, even when he was closer. I’d get frustrated when MY routine and MY ways weren’t followed to the letter.

I acted like these three children belonged to me, and I treated my husband as if he knew nothing. (Jon Snow)

Here’s the thing though –  he’s an amazing dad. The best. I should have had faith in him, but I was so scared of getting this whole parenting thing wrong that I treated him like an outsider instead of a vital part of our family. I kept him at arms length and buried myself in our children.

It was so completely unfair of me to do that to him, and its my biggest parenting regret.

When our youngest was 2, I had this sudden revelation. I recognised what I was doing and how it would harm, not only my relationship with my husband, but his relationship with our children. I am incredibly fortunate in that my husband is a very patient man, and an incredible father who has always been hands-on and completely loving. But what if? What if I pushed him away? What if I irrevocably damaged his relationship with his children? I would never have been able to forgive myself.

How much does that suck though? The person I love most in the world, and I was systematically undermining him. I have made a big effort to stop being so selfish and mean, and now I let him know every day how much I appreciate him.

Now, we’re a team and our lives are much happier.




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