A couple of years ago, a woman I know uploaded a ton of photos of her new baby to Facebook. No joke, there were like a hundred photos. Okay, so she was madly in love with her baby. How nice. But as I scanned through the photos, I thought to myself, Did they get divorced? I hadn't heard anything about my real world male friend divorcing his wife (the woman whose photos I was looking at). Yet my male friend, the father of the baby, was nowhere to be found in any of the photos. Not with the mom and kid at home. Not with them outside. Not with them at relatives' and friends' homes. It was as if he'd been erased from existence. He's a handsome man who is NOT camera shy. So where was he? The thought went out of my mind until I saw him about a year later, at a mutual friend's party.
"Hey, Doug," I greeted him. (His name isn't Doug.) "Where's Sally?" (Her name isn't Sally.)
Doug explained to me that Sally couldn't bear to tear herself away from their baby, who was now 2 years old, not even to come to a mutual friend's birthday party for just an hour or so. In fact, she had NEVER torn herself away from the baby.
"You mean she hasn't spent any time away from the baby?" I asked. "Nope," he said with a tight smile.
And something in my gut demanded, Turn away. Do not probe further. You do not want to know.
Because suddenly all of the pictures of Sally and her baby made sense. She had completely erased Doug from the picture. It was now about Sally and baby. Baby and Sally. Sally, baby, baby, Sally. They were the dynamic duo and Sally was NOT going to leave her for a little alone time with daddy.
Hey, when you have a kid, and you're just insanely in love with him or her, who can blame you for wanting to spend every single second you can with your child. But hello? You have a husband too.
Another friend confessed to me that her husband once said he feels like the "third wheel" now after the birth of their daughter. I had to agree that he was probably right -- I'd noticed that my friend had intensely focused on her daughter after her birth, and continued to do it, to the point where when I saw the three of them together, it almost seemed like the husband was some strange dude who had sauntered over and tried to join in when no one really wanted him. Another male friend told me that he often feels like he's just a "sperm donor."
Once, I was visiting a relative of mine who has three children with his wife. As she ran around after the kids all night, bathing them, undressing them, haranguing them to do their homework, I glanced at my relative, who had his headphones on and was calmly checking email. "Hey," I said, grabbing his attention. I thought I'd tease him a bit. "Don't you ever help out?"
"I try," he said. "But she doesn't want me to. She thinks I do it all wrong. She tells me to just stay out of the way, so I do." Ouch! Ladies, ladies. For sure some guys are totally clueless. And maybe they don't do everything perfectly -- but how are they going to learn when you do everything?
A husband may not be as cute as a baby, but he needs love too. I'm not saying you need to baby him, but maybe include him in your existence?! That is, if you want him to stay in it.
Do you ever feel like you're excluding your husband?
Image via JenX67/Flickr