Originally Posted by Disco Infiltrator
I think we have the most equal parenting relationship I've seen, but it's still not entirely equal because of the nursing relationship. This hurts me and sometimes I find that I almost want to set aside DS's needs in order to keep him from unintentionally hurting DW. It's a hard place to be.
We've found it helpful to remember that the nursing relationship is really only a brief period of time, and that there will always be times when one of us is more able to meet a particular child's needs. It is our
choice if we decide to have hurt feelings when one of our children prefers the other mother, and not intentional on the part of the child. If we choose to feel hurt, we call it, "hurting our own feelings." Our twins did frequently prefer me as a source of comfort when they were nursing (weaned at ages 2.5 and 3), but that preference did not last beyond the nursing years at all. Since weaning, the twins have more often preferred dw than they have me (probably because dw took over in the nighttime parenting department when ds3 was born, and that's when most of the comforting takes place for older kids). At times I have felt rejected, but I make myself realize that I am choosing
to feel that way.
In our family, since dw has worked outside of the home since our kids were born, and since I have always been a SAHM, the dynamic is that I am kind of "boring mom," and dw is "fun and playful, exciting mom!" As soon as I pick the kids up from school, the question is "when is Mama
getting home?" and EVERYONE prefers Mama when she's here (even ds3 who is still nursing quite a bit).
I do feel like I have more to prove in regards to my relationship with baby #4 (who my wife is carrying), so I completely understand that the dynamics ARE different for NGPs. Already I feel like I am viewed as much less important to this baby than dw is by the public at large. Old acquaintances say hi to me and then congratulate
Lena. When our midwives were here this week, we were discussing the birth tub set-up, etc., and one of them mentioned that I would be the one emptying the tub after the birth (and I thought, "but I'll need to be lying in bed with the baby TOO!"). I do feel like this whole experience is not as much my
experience as it is my wife's. And while I'm guessing that what I am experiencing now is similar to what an expectant father would experience, I don't want to be treated like a father. I want to be treated like a mother. But none of these issues is a true reflection of what my relationship with my fourth baby will be. They are all about the perceptions of other people. Our baby will see me as his mother, regardless of how our old acquaintances see me, or how our midwives see me. And it will be my choice to feel differently about the rejection when ds4 rejects me in favor of dw just as his older brothers have. I hope that I will be able to realize this and not take it as a reflection on my role as my non-bio child's mother. I do think it is helpful to have already been on the other side of the biological relationship, and to have older kids, who have already clearly demonstrated that they see us both as truly equal mothers, without ever placing any emphasis on biological relationship.