Sunday, April 23, 2006

More Than "Just" Mama Talk?

Janna's comment about whether or not mamas like to talk about topics other than kids reminded me of this article, which I'm pretty sure I forwarded to some of y'all last year when I first read it. (By the way, the article is a little "worldly" in terms of its description of marriage and all that goes along with marriage, so consider yourself warned.) :-)

But I think it raises an excellent question on top of Janna's question, which is this: do we live in a society where people put their children before their marriages?

I think we do. And is that why we find ourselves talking about our kids so much? Because we give so much to that part of our lives that it supercedes everything else?

Now I totally get why people would say that the kids should come first. I get why people say that I should sacrifice myself and my identity for the sake of my child. And I do believe that God expects me to take my job as Alex's mother very, very seriously, because 1) He called me to do it and 2) it's a job that has eternal consequences.

But I think my first priority within my family - with God at the tiptop of the heap being a given - has to be my husband. And I think that for several reasons.

First, I think we do Alex a disservice if we put him at the center of our universe. If we sacrifice our relationship for his convenience, then I'm not sure how anyone comes out ahead in that deal.

Second, we want our child to see a loving, committed relationship between two people who genuinely enjoy one another. That kind of relationship doesn't happen unless you put some work into it.

Third, if we put everything into Alex right now and nothing into our relationship with each other, what in the world will we be left with when the chick (or chicks, if that ever happens) leaves the roost?

And I recognize that all of those reasons are so much easier said than done.

Sometimes it's so tempting for women to say, "You know what? I give everything I have to my children. And they touch me all day and pull on me all day and need me all day, and I don't want for one more person - even my husband - to need me." I have been there. I have no doubt looked at David like he had horns growing out of his head when he has snuggled up next to me after a particularly challenging childrearing day.

But just because I feel that way doesn't make it right. Someway, somehow, I have to save room for him. I have to save a little room for me, too.

Last year when I emailed my friend NK the article that I linked to at the beginning of this post, she and I had a lengthy conversation about the author's comment that she's not "in love" with her children. I think that's one area where we either disagree with her or have a serious semantics issue. Because I am in love with Alex. Most people I know are in love with their children. I don't know how you could NOT be. Granted, it's a different kind of love than what I feel for my husband. It's like apples and oranges...both are fruits, both are good for you, both are delicious - but they're just not the same thing (now is when I definitely wish I was better at analogies).

NK said that the reason her love for her children and her love for her husband are so different is because she relates to them differently, and I like how she explained herself. She said, "I have so many hopes and dreams for my children. But most of MY hopes and dreams are with my husband. The love is just as strong on each side...but it's not the same thing at all."

It's a crazy balancing act, it is.

So to answer Janna's question: yes, most women do like to talk about more than just their kids. Personally, I love to talk about my husband, and family, and friends, and books, and churches, and television, and music, and blogs. :-)

But it just occurred to me, as I finished that last sentence, that by the time I take care of David, and take care of Alex, and take care of me, I don't have as much time as I'd like for the rest of items on my "favorite topics" list, and I should probably go a little easier on my sisters who are also in the parenting trenches, especially in regard to what they talk about at birthday parties.

It's probably not a wise idea to hold other women to a conversational standard that I can't even achieve myself.


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