Apart from the fact that he is much better company than either teenager or toddler, I choose to make my partner a priority at all times, sometimes to the detriment of my kids.
Now, before you get your knickers in a twist about children being the front and centre of a GOOD mother’s life, let me tell you why…
Meeting a partner that you actually want to create and nurture another human life with is a pretty epic feeling. Knowing in your bones that this one other human could be such a good fit with you, you would consider sharing DNA and then sharing everything else (toothbrushes, viruses and bathrooms included) for ever more, is an intoxicating sensation.
You could not love someone any more than you love them.
Until that mixed bag of shared DNA comes along.
And suddenly the partner you were so enamoured by plays second fiddle to a tiny bundle of needs, which is completely understandable in those first moments of life. But once they finally emerge from the fog that is a new-born, so many parents forget what created that life in the first place.
So much of what we are told about being a GOOD parent focuses on us meeting all of the needs of our children, and meeting none of our own needs. It has left us with some very well cared for (*cough* over privileged) kids and some very exhausted and estranged parents.
It is time to change that.
When I prioritise my partner, I show my kids the following things:
** That first and foremost, I am a woman.
Not a mum first, not the chef, cleaner or chauffeur. I am a woman, who has tangible relationship needs that can only be met by my life partner (and some “alone time”!) That I deserve those needs to be met and that I have a right to those needs being met. I hope, in the future, they can do the same for themselves, and grant their partners that freedom as well.
** That relationships with a significant other are important, and that they take work, attention, love, time, privacy, participation and prioritising. Nothing less is enough. And the pay-off for that kind of attention is a joyous, mutual, sexy, wonderful love.
** That when it comes time for them to leave home, and start a life of their own, I will be OK.
I know how to look after myself (literally), and although I will miss them dreadfully, I will still have a life of my own to get on with, and, hopefully, still have my partner to share it with.
So many couples I work with finally turn to each other after parenting for 18 years and realise they have nothing left between them – nothing but an empty space where the kids once were. I deserve more than that as a reward for a parenting job well done, so I will be putting in as much love and effort with my partner, as I do with them.
And finally, if for no other reason, I prioritise my partner over my kids, because he is a damn good ally, and god knows every mumma needs one of those.