I like to think of myself as a good mother. I hesitate to use the word “great,” because I’m human and cannot be engaged, present, and chipper for my kid as much as I would like to be. But the fact of the matter is, while I consider myself a good mom, my husband is a much better parent than I am.
My husband never turns on the TV as a distraction; he always engages our daughter with toys and books instead.
My husband always cooks her a full meal, instead of letting her fill her belly with milk and applesauce.
My husband never short-changes our daughter’s bedtime routine. He reads both books and plays the game she likes with her blanket until she’s ready to settle in.
My husband always watches her with all his attention. He never fiddles on his phone for distraction when he’s spending time with our kid.
My husband is never too lazy to walk to the park with our daughter and will spend as long as she wants pushing the swing.
My husband never, ever picks up fast food because it’s easier. Instead, he comes back to the house and gives our daughter something that will grow mold if left out too long—unlike the McDonald’s hamburger I would have let her have.
My husband doesn’t get impatient when our toddler wants to walk the whole way herself when we’re out with the dog. He takes baby steps alongside her, even if the walk takes an hour.
My husband is the kind of parent I aspire to be. He is the kind of parent I told myself I’d be when I was pregnant. He’s the kind of parent I promise myself I will be tomorrow.
But the truth of the matter is, I am not that parent. I will never be that parent. I am the primary caregiver. I have more hours of the day to spend with my kid than he does. He gets the highlights. He gets the evenings. He gets the weekends.
I get the monotony of getting dressed every morning, killing five hours before she goes down for her afternoon nap, and preparing three meals. I get the tantrums. I get the hellacious playdates with the whining and the pushing and the screaming.
This is not to take away from anything my husband does with our daughter. She is the luckiest child alive to have a daddy like hers. He is wonderful, patient, and kind. He is everything I hoped he’d be and more.
No, this is to remind myself not to hold myself to a standard that I cannot meet. It’s a reminder that I shouldn’t compare myself to someone in a situation that is not comparable to mine. It’s to tell myself that, even if our situations were similar, we are different people.
He has energy. He has motivation. He has enthusiasm. He has a strong moral code.
I have fatigue. I have depression. I have lower standards for myself. I let myself off the hook—though sometimes a little too much.
I am a good mom. He is a good dad. Together, we give our daughter everything she needs. Some of those things, like consistency, cuddles, and conversations about bodies and feelings, she gets from me. Others, like adventure, tickles, and a strong set of values, she gets from her dad.
Our parenting does not have to look the same. What is “good” for me does not have to be what is “good” for him. So, instead of envying the patience and dedication he has to raising our daughter, I will be grateful that I get to bring up a child with such an incredible person. I will be thankful for the experiences she shares with her dad. I will strive to have just a little more patience tomorrow.
And I won’t beat myself up when she and I cuddle in for another episode of Doc McStuffins. Because I’m not perfect and sometimes I need a break.
And, to be honest, so does she.