Helluva headline, right? I know it may seem inflammatory, but this is actually a debate I’ve had several times in my adult life, and it gets heated. I found a surprising number of parents and spouses that agreed with me wholeheartedly, and others who couldn’t believe I could utter such hot garbage. My stance on this matter has never changed, though. I still love my husband more than I love my kids, which is not to say that I don’t love my kids an enormous amount. Boy do I ever. They are my lifeblood, my reason for living, my greatest pride and joy. They are also my anxiety, my reason for fretting, my greatest challenge and struggle.
Being a mom is hard. Like, super fucking hard. I knew that going in, and accept that truth and that responsibility. To be a good parent means to worry about the state of the world, the state of your child’s health and well-being, and the state of your bank account. The unceasing guilt you feel for not being around enough, or having enough money to get them all the things they want and sign them up for all the activities they love, or for yelling at them and looking forward to bedtime after a really long day. The love you have for these tiny humans is so consuming that it makes all outside influences seem suspect and dangerous; meant to be kept at bay, lest they harm a hair on your precious treasure’s head. It. Is. Exhausting.
Being Sean’s wife isn’t exhausting. Sure we fight and have our struggles, but generally, being Sean’s wife is my favorite role that I play. Being Sean’s wife means laughter, passion, conversation, companionship, fun, and love. He is my best friend, which admittedly does create problems sometimes, when he’s who I want to bitch about.
We were simply “Dani and Sean,” long before we were “Mommy and Daddy.” I knew him when he was an awkward 15-year-old boy, and watched him turn from a boy into a man. We came into our own together, found ourselves and lost ourselves by each other’s side. We became spouses together, and parents. We stared in wonder at our first-born daughter’s face together, astounded that our love and our bodies created the tiny miracle in our arms. We have cried together, celebrated together and fought together. Every good and bad thing in my last 12+ years of life have been experienced with Sean next to me, holding my hand, passing his strength to me, and me passing mine to him, whenever the scene flipped.
In the not-too-distant-future, our girls will be grown, ready to spread their wings and leave our nest to forge their own paths in life, and then we will once again be just “Dani and Sean,” only a much different, richer version. We will have to be able to live our lives together, without the constant barrage of young children in our home, needing every ounce of our attention. I want to make sure we don’t lose touch with one another in these years leading up to our empty nest. I want to ensure that we don’t have to learn to love each other, or live alone with each other all over again because we forgot to be partners and lovers while we were being full-time parents.
It’s why we try and go away alone together for a long weekend, at least once or twice a year. It’s why we prioritize date night on a very regular basis. We make a concerted effort to nurture our marriage as frequently and as thoroughly as we nurture our children. Not only for the sake of our union, but for the sake of our daughters. They will grow in a household overflowing with love. They will see that their parents are genuinely happy together, and have mutual respect, love and admiration for one another. They will see that their Daddy treats their Mommy like a queen, and openly worships and encourages her; and that their Mommy adores their Daddy and tells them every day how lucky they all are that he is theirs. They will know what it looks like to be treated with the respect and support that every one deserves, especially in the partners they choose for themselves, and that they must also give back equal to what they take.
My point is this: My children bring me an unprecedented amount of joy. I, like pretty much every other parent on earth, could never have guessed what it would actually be like to have your heart literally walking on the outside of your body, susceptible to every danger life has to offer. I would do anything for my kids, and consider them to be my greatest masterpieces. But intrinsically tied to procreation is worry and anxiety, emotions that are stressful, to say the least. Love always comes with a certain amount of pain, and the love you have for your children is no different. In fact, it’s worse, because your pain is directly linked to theirs. Having children is to be an empath, in which you feel everything they do at all times, the good and the bad.
While I imagine some parents will think me a monster for these opinions, I imagine many will appreciate the sentiment. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a moment in my kids’ lives when they will doubt the love I have for them. They know they are cherished, loved, and adored. They are secure in the fact that they have parents who love and support them in everything they do. They also know that their parents love each other deeply, and will have no problem acclimating to life alone when it’s time for them to move on to the next phase of their lives. In fact, I bet they’ll get a kick out of all the postcards they’ll get from the adventures we go on together.
Our kids are still fairly young, just seven and four; but I am no fool. I know people talk about how fast the time goes by because it’s true, not because it’s another overplayed expression. One day I’ll blink and I’ll be at our oldest daughter’s high school graduation, with my freshman-aged baby by my side. Before I know it, they will blossom into women, ready to take on the world, and they won’t need me to kiss their boo-boos, and sing them to sleep, and cuddle them when they aren’t feeling well. I cherish the memories I make with them today, so that I may replay them like a home movie in my mind when they aren’t here.
Sean will have his own memories to add to my reel, and together we will look back on those years with warmth and happiness and step into the next phase, hand-in-hand, ready for what comes next. Perhaps one day we will be blessed with grandchildren, and we will enjoy that entirely new love together, as well.
So you see, me saying that I love my husband more than my children does not diminish the love that I have for my daughters. I am a human capable of a great amount of love. Those in my life that I love get all that I have to give, and they give it back freely. That is the most important part. We cannot sustain the outpouring of love if we do not receive it in return to replenish ourselves.
This article is really not meant to be controversial, believe it or not. I know that not everyone is in my situation, or even has a husband, or believes in this ideology in general. This is truly just an explanation of my experience, and why I don’t think these are feelings that should make people feel guilty.
Honesty of emotion is the only way we will get through this terrifying, beautiful, terrible, joyous thing called life.
Dani Strehle, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder, is hoping to reshape the narrative to leave behind a better world for her daughters, so that they may sustain, rather than battle and rebuild.