9 Things You’ll Do For Your Kid That You’d Never Do For Your Partner
I am much more willing to help my kids than my husband, and I’m not sure it’s because he is an adult and they are not. Besides the obvious stuff, like wiping his butt and cutting his food up for him (though, if that’s what keeps someone else’s relationship strong, no judgment), there are things I’d do for my kids that I’d never do for my partner. After I’m done feeling guilty about that (two to three seconds, max), I can sort of understand why: I just don’t have as much generosity to give him as I did before becoming a parent.
I don’t take the position that you have to choose between your kids and your partner because, well, I would never be able to do that. My entire family — my husband, my daughter, my son — complete me. However, before we had kids we just had more patience with each other. We also had more energy, so it was really no big deal to put extra effort towards each other. Plus, before kids was simply earlier in our relationship, when we thought about each other a lot more; maybe because there wasn’t so much kid stuff forcing us to perform mental gymnastics in order to keep our household running smoothly.
I’m not proud of it, but I don’t think I’m alone in that I’m a lot shorter with my husband, and a lot less forgiving of his foibles, since having children. Neither of us have the time (or patience) after wrestling kids in and out of the bath, chasing them into bed, and digging into the pile of prep work for the next day, to do more than the bare minimum for ourselves, let alone each other. I’m hoping we can get back to the place where we put one another’s needs before our own more often than not. As our kids get older, and we assign them more household tasks to share the burden, and to encourage their independence, we might get some time back. But until then, here are the things I’m willing to do for my kids, but not my partner:
When my partner and I moved in together, we continued to do our respective loads of laundry. We got married and nothing changed. We had kids, and nothing changed. Now, he runs up and down from our apartment to the basement, throwing our kids’ clothes in the washer and dryer, and I fold them. We occasionally toss our own stuff in there to fill out the load, but it seems to be an unspoken code that we just do not fold each other’s stuff.
Watch Awful TV
My husband and I look forward to the 45 minute period each night when we can actually watch something together after the kids are in bed. But our tastes aren’t always in synch. I recently bowed out of a horror movie he had heard good things about, and he finished it on his own.
But when my kids call me in because I just have to see what Goldie and Bear are up to, it is just too charming to say “no” to them, even if I’m bored to tears by watching.
Go On A Thrill Ride
I am not into roller coasters. My children take after their father in that they all love those death machines. I have nothing to prove by agreeing to ride some Double Dragon coaster with my husband. But when my kids beg me to ride with them (and in my 6-year-old son’s case, I must accompany him, due to his height), I can become the "Cool Mom" if I get brave and strap in. It’s worth it, even if that coolness lasts a mere 90 seconds and I’m screaming in fear the whole time.
Purchase Their Clothes
I used to buy my partner clothes, but that was before we came parents. Then, with two kids to outfit, I couldn’t be bothered shopping for my husband, even though I was really shopping for me when I picked out his clothes. I occasionally grab a pair of on-sale boxers when I’m in line checking out armfuls of back-to-school shirts at the store, but I am no longer my guy’s stylist.
Share My Dessert
Of course my kids only wanted to eat what was on my plate and not on their own (even though we were all eating the same things). When it comes to dessert, I am kind of a sucker. Forking over some of my pie is hard not to do when they give me the big eyes. It also serves as portion control for me.
However, would I willingly split my chocolate mousse cake with my husband? Not anymore. I will have already shared it with the kids.
Get Cute Band-Aids
I’m sure my husband would love some Star Wars Band-Aids, but he can use the generic kind. The good stuff is for the kids, because, otherwise, they’ll give me grief about me stopping their play to bandage up their scrapes.
Yes, I will sing (badly) in public if my daughter wants to duet on a song from Annie. No, I will not duet with my husband on Under Pressure at karaoke. At least, not until I’ve had a few and we’ve banned recording devices from the room.
Look For Fun Things To Do On The Weekends
This is something my husband has always been good at. He plans terrific trips, and he and I have traveled to a lot of countries, on tight budgets, and really got our money’s worth. This was, of course, pre-kids.
Now our weekends are all about what the kids would be into doing, that we wouldn’t mind doing also. I signed up my kids for a bunch of activities they have been enjoying on the weekends, and my husband and I no longer give much thought to what we would actually like to be doing, because what we’d actually like to be doing is sleeping. That never happens.
Let Them Win
I don’t do this anymore, but when when they were in Preschool, and when I really needed to end an overly long game of war (worst card game ever), I would cheat, in my kids’ favor. I know it wasn’t right, and now that they are nine and six, I no longer throw the games because they need to taste the bitterness of humility. When they were little, though, watching them win just gave me all the feels.
On the flip side, watching my husband win at Scrabble or Connect Four is less pleasant. We’re a little competitive when it comes to board games. Two Type A personalities strategizing for a win is not always a pretty sight.