Monday, April 23, 2007

Child Care, "Spouse" Care: Friends or Foes?

Gently placing Peter in his car seat for the first time, I fought the urge to ride in back with him. Why? Symbolism. Convinced that our marriage should be the primary relationship in our newly-grown family, I felt that our seating arrangement should reflect that. Parents sit up front. Baby sits in the back.

When we got home, and I raced to retrieve Peter, he was curled in a ball. His head rested literally on top of his feet. I had forgotten to lift the chest bar to hold his torso in place. Knowing what I know now about positional asphyxia, I realize how tragic this mistake could have been.

The moral of the story (uh, besides the fact that symbolism is lost on the five-day-old newborn)? My marriage comes first, but that doesn’t mean I have to neglect my child.

In fact, the longer I’ve been a mother—and it’s been a whopping 14 months, so I’m an expert, right?—the more I’ve decided that you can be a total hippie mama* with a babe suctioned to your breast 24/7 and still put your marriage first.

For starters, your offspring is the product of your love. The more you nurture him or her, the more respect you show for your spouse. Like, if your spouse bought you a really nice car (which I wouldn’t know anything about), you would show respect by getting the oil changed, rotating the tires regularly, and not running it over curbs (something else I wouldn’t know anything about).

The problem is that I live in a society which tells me that childcare and “spouse”care necessarily, at times, conflict. “Don’t put the baby in the bed.” “Have a date night once a week.” “Don’t let a child disturb your dinner conversation.” Shoot, I even have a friend who didn’t want to nurse her baby because her “breasts are for her husband.”

Hmm… I want to take a closer look at some of these “conflicts.” Tomorrow, some thoughts on date night.

*For what it’s worth, I’m not a hippie. I don’t even own a pair of Birkenstocks.

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