My children like my husband more than me.
I don't blame them, he's an exceptional dad. His gentle yet playful way with children was what attracted me to him in the first place.
I remember it like it was yesterday- the way my heart swelled as I watched him kneel down next to a shy little three year old girl in the church nursery. For weeks we had unsuccessfully been trying to encourage her to engage with the class. Kyle spend five minutes on the floor with her before she eagerly jumped into our activity.
We had only known each other a few weeks but in that moment I saw a life with him. My life tangled up in his. I fell in love watching his kind, compassionate, selfless spirit fill that room.
I had never really planned on becoming a mother; a long history of anorexia and the medical complications that ensued took the potential of having children off my radar. When my husband and I got married, I became fearful that because of the abuse my body had endured, I would be unable to give him the one thing he had always wanted- a family.
My husband was born to be a dad. He intuitively knows how to parent in ways most of us would never think of. The bond he has with each of our three boys is inspiring; it's breathtaking to watch him interact with them. They idolize him. They dress like him and mimic his every move. My five year old tells everyone he meets that he wants to grow up to be a daddy. He would be a great one, he's got an incredible example.
When I became a mother, I had to work hard at erasing the years between me and my sons. I couldn't remember what it was like to be a child; I didn’t know how to access the little girl within. I still struggle to find her. But my husband's inner child radiates his every pore.
I used to be insanely jealous of their intimate relationships. I still feel a twinge of unease every time my children cry for their daddy. It hurts to pour my heart and soul into these children each day and have them turn toward their dad instead of me. I know they all love me deeply, but they prefer him. They might always prefer him.
I would cry myself to sleep after an exhausting day at home with the boys because I felt like they didn't appreciate me. As soon as daddy walked in the door I was invisible. I felt lonely and worthless. My identity, which I thought I had finally found in motherhood, was slipping away. I was, once again, lost.
Motherhood has taught me some of life's most important lessons. It has challenged me to look at myself and the way I interact with others and the world around me in a new light. It has forced me to grow up. And part of growing up was learning to let go and accepting that this parenthood journey was never my journey, it was his.
I should not have been able to have children.. But somehow, my broken, weary body housed and gave birth to three healthy children. This was never about me, it was about them.
Our three boys are my husband's greatest gifts; his lifelong dreams come true. They are his heart, his soul, his every waking breath. Whenever I start to feel jealous, when my feelings start to hurt, I remember that this isn't about me. My husband is the reason I have these three precious boys. He is their everything.
And I'm learning that my greatest gift to them is in letting go- in not fighting or competing- but in surrendering to the idea that I will never fill that daddy shaped hole in each one of their hearts.
I no longer want to.