My husband is a better mom than me. He matches my daughter’s energy, he’s the one she goes to when she gets hurt, and he’s the go-to parent to deal with emergencies. After all, that’s what moms do, right?
When my husband and I started our journey as parents, I decided to exit the workforce to finish out the last months of my pregnancy without job responsibilities, and then an additional nine months after giving birth to my daughter to take care of her. By the end of the nine months, though, I realized that while I loved being a mom, I also loved my working self. Staying at home and spending every moment of my day with this little human was pure joy…but I was ready to use my brain differently again.
Maybe that’s when the shift happened. When the next school year started, we found a precious home daycare for our daughter and I went back to work. Returning to work meant that my days and hours are set, and my schedule is pretty set too. In comparison, my husband has Fridays off, he doesn’t have a lot of standing meetings throughout the day, and a lot of his work obligations fall on weekends and evenings and summers when I’m off.
We started a natural rhythm in parenting and he quickly became the go-to parent. He’s the one that drops off every day. He picks up 4 out of the 5 days of the week. If we’re just measuring parent success on availability alone, then my husband wins every time.
There are also the things that just “happen” with a having a kid: fevers at daycare, doctors appointments, a physical therapy appointment because she wasn’t walking by the walking milestone – and it was suddenly like the “mom” in me was too busy (or it was more inconvenient for me) to take care of my daughter, so my husband took care of it all. I grew up thinking moms were supposed to do all of that. No one ever sat me down and told me that to my face, but that’s what I saw in movies, that’s how my mom took care of my brother and I, and that’s just what I felt I had to do as a woman who hoped to be a mom one day. I felt guilty for not doing the things I thought moms do.
What does it mean to be a mom, and what do you do when your spouse or partner is a better “mom” than you? Maybe being a mom is less about what you do for your family, and more about who you are to your family. Maybe being a mom is less about the things you are physically present for, and more about the things you do that are unseen. And maybe, just maybe, being a mom means you’re showing your kid(s) that you can be good at things and be more than just “a mom”.
Redefining what a mom is has helped me tremendously, and it is also a needed change in perspective when I look around at our society and see so many women rewriting what it means to be a mom, too. Maybe the lesson really is that it’s less about my husband being a better mom than me, and more about me learning how to be my full and authentic self as a mom. I’m rewriting what being a mom means for me. When I think about how my daughter will have core memories of her and her dad together, their silly made up song about yogurt, the countless times they have had snack time in the gardens at the Botanic Garden, or the different hairstyles they’ve tried together (with selfies of course!), I can’t help but smile and think how great a parent and partner he is.
What an honor it is to show my daughter that moms (and dads) can be more than what I thought it was when I was her age.
Maybe it will give her the freedom to choose what kind of mom she wants to be when she grows up too.