Imagine your romantic ideal. Go ahead, try it. Imagine what that person looks like; imagine a person so physically attractive you almost swoon, someone oozing sex appeal, whatever it means to you. Now think about the parents you see around you in your community. The mom who clearly is having a blast on the swings with her son or the dad who is tickling his daughter's belly and they are both laughing so hard there are tears in their eyes.
Another dad holding his son as the boy cries over a skinned knee and mom snuggling up to her daughter reading a favorite book. These parents may be physically attractive in very traditional ways, or they may not be. Did you even notice? Does it matter what they look like?
What is really attractive about these parents is their parenting. Their attentive and engaged parenting is what makes them beautiful, the way they unashamedly give themselves to their children. It even makes them sexy.
Yes, good parenting is sexy. It really and truly is. Give me a balding, slightly overweight good dad over a magazine-cover misogynist any day of the week. Better yet, give me my own husband— a truly great dad.
SheKnows SECRET: Becoming a parent alters all your relationships, especially the one you
have with your partner.
Becoming a parent is, of course, life altering. It alters not only you, but your relationships as well—every last one of them. Navigating your romantic relationship amid your new title as parents can be tricky. The attention you and your partner gave each other before and during pregnancy and even right through delivery was intense and focused on each other, even as you planned for and experienced the arrival of your baby. But the moment that baby is born there is something between you, even more literally than when your belly was growing, and definitely figuratively. It links you forever, yet if you are not careful and attentive to the foundation of your romantic relationship, the stress can tear your relationship apart. You can talk Mars and Venus all you want—here on Earth, a new baby is your own personal earthquake.
At a wedding rehearsal once, the wise pastor leading the ceremony spoke of loyalties. He said that until the marriage vow is made, one's loyalties are with one's parents. But the moment the marriage vows are made, the loyalties are to the spouse first and to the children of that union second.
"What I love most about my husband as a dad is that he jumps right into parenting, never complains if he is tired or the kids are whining, uses humor to diffuse situations, and is a truly great role model. It is so great at the end of a long day and I am ready to hide under the covers to have his personality infused into our family dynamic!" —Kellie B.
For years, I thought about those remarks in terms of spousal and in-law relationships, which is all good and well. But as soon as I had a child of my own, I wondered how to achieve that goal of spouse loyalty first when we had a helpless creature totally dependent on me. Didn't I need to put this baby first, at least for a while?
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prioritize a healthy and capable adult above a vulnerable, helpless infant. So don't. That's where the difference between loyalties and priorities comes in.
Loyalty is faithfulness, constancy, devotion. Loyalty is more a sentiment. Sometimes it's an action, too, but it's an emotional feeling of commitment to your partner and the family you are building together. Priority is almost all action, however. It's doing what needs to be done in the order in which it needs to be done.
"The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other." —Jan Blaustone
You can be completely loyal to your partner while putting your baby first in the physical priority line much of the time. In fact, you are being loyal to your partner when you do so. By being an attentive and responsive mother, you are showing your commitment to the family you and your partner have chosen to build. Likewise, your partner shows that same loyalty when he shows his understanding of priorities, whether it be doing something directly for the baby or supporting you in what you need to do for the baby.
And the baby? The baby isn't asking anyone to choose between this or that or him or her; the baby is just hungry.
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