Jim Keeble wrote a feature in the Sunday Telegraph’s Sunday magazine called “I love my wife more than my children (but she loves THEM more than me)”.
It got me thinking. If a woman had written an article called “I love my husband more than my children” she’d be crucified. When a guy says it, he’s a true romantic - ‘Sally of Sydney’ compared it to The Notebook on the newspaper’s website: “So lovely how he loved her more than anyone or anything” - but a woman would be denounced as a she-devil.
Don’t you reckon?
Most commenters on the newspaper’s website said the love you feel for your partner and your children is completely different and impossible to compare. And I agree with them.
Except Jim’s wife asked him to make a choice: who he’d throw out of a hot-air balloon so the other passengers could survive – her or the kids – and he hesitated. He doesn’t actually come out and say he’d turf the kids out, but you get the feeling …
I had all these horrible images in my mind of his sweet-looking children – pictured in the article – being thrown out of the basket. Awful. Or them reading the story many years later and being deeply hurt.
I’m surprised his wife hasn’t divorced him on principle.*
Because I’m definitely in her camp – there’s no way I’d be chucking the kids out.
Since reading the article, I’ve been pondering my feelings for my children, which grow stronger every day.
When they were toddlers, I’d look at the parents of older children and think: “Do you still adore them when they’re not little cuties any more?”
And: “They won’t be so engaging when they’re not learning stuff for the first time and saying cute things.”
But as each year passes I find myself fascinated by my offspring in different, equally heart-swelling ways.
It wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t one of those motherly types who claps eyes on her vernix-covered, screaming infant after it’s extracted from the womb and gasps “OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU!”
I wrote a feature for Cosmo Pregnancy magazine many years ago, giving mums-to-be advice on what to expect in the first year with a new baby. Number 1 was: It’s OK if you don’t automatically love your baby.
I explained: “Some women fall madly in love with their child the moment she’s placed in their arms. Some women don’t. Don’t beat yourself up about it if you’re the latter. It doesn’t mean you’re a cold, heartless cow, or suffering post-natal depression. It just means you’re a bit shocked and overwhelmed by what’s happened. Labour is hard work, it’s painful and exhausting. A baby is hard work, too – at first all you seem to do is feed her, change dirty nappies and try desperately to get her
to sleep. But you will fall in love with her eventually, I promise. It’s impossible to resist those little fingers and toes and chubby arms and first smiles. You just sit
and stare at them in amazement, thinking “I made that!” And the love just keeps on growing until you’re so completely mushy about being a mum that it brings a
tear to your eye just thinking about it.”
Looking back, it’s a bit sugar coated, but my heart was in the right place. And eventually my mothering instincts were too. It didn’t help that I’d given birth to a child who wasn’t the lovey-dovey type.
Which brought me to point Number 7 in my article: Babies aren’t as cuddly as you expect.
I can look back now and know that’s not universal, but mine definitely wasn’t: “I thought there’d be lots of snuggling with my bub, but there’s not. There’s lots of squirming to get away. I’m sure lots of babies are big sooks, but mine is frustratingly independent. She’ll crawl out of sight without bothering to check if I’m following. If I try and help her do something, she’ll peel my fingers off her arms/back/leg and toss them aside. She can sit happily unpacking and repacking my make-up bag for ages, ignoring me as I try to play with her.”
These days, fortunately, Sprog 1 loves a cuddle almost as much as her little sister, who worships me like I’m her Limpet Goddess. When Sprog 2 gets up in the morning she glues herself to my side. If Daddy tries to intercept for some love, she almost bites his head off: “Get off me!” were her exact words a few days ago.
When I’m feeling down, giving one of my kids a squeeze, buring my head in their soft hair, feeling their arms wrapped around me … it sends an adrenaline shot of happiness straight to my heart.
Throw them out of the hot-air balloon? Never!