And it’s true. I do love my child more than he could possibly love me. In fact I love him more than anyone I have ever loved before and in a completely different way. It’s an emotion and a feeling so strong that the word “love” doesn’t really do it justice.
Yet every time I tell him that I love him more than anyone else on earth he always asks, without fail, “what about daddy?”
Maybe he’s been chatting with the Urban/Kidman children. Country music star Keith Urban (who we have been, “rediscovering” since he appeared on The Voice) recently spoke to the Australian Women’s Weekly about the love he has for his wife Nicole Kidman and their kids.
“We’re very, very tight as a family unit and the children are our life, but I know the order of my love. It’s my wife and then my daughters. I just think it’s really important for the kids.”
“There are too many parents who start to lose the plot a little and start to give all their love to the kids, and then the partner starts to go without. And then everybody loses. As a kid, all I needed to know was that my parents were solid. Kids shouldn’t feel like they are being favoured. It’s a dangerous place.”
And I so get it from the children’s perspective. I know that my own child needs to know how much I love his father. It makes him feel safe. Maybe I understand this even more having dealt with the divorce of my own parents at age 10.
There was no doubt my parents no longer loved each other when I was a child, but all I really wanted was that they both love me. Selfish? Maybe. Immature? Probably. Their loving me was going to keep me safe when they no longer had each other.
Keith Urban is not the first person to publicly declare his love for his partner over his love for his children. Ayelet Waldman caused a public outcry in 2005 when she wrote an essay for The New York Times. Talking about the birth of her daughter she wrote:
She looked like a newborn baby, red and scrawny, blotchy faced and mewling. I don’t remember what I said to my husband. Actually I remember very little of my Percocet- and Vicodin-fogged first few days of motherhood except for someone calling and squealing, “Aren’t you just completely in love?” And of course I was. Just not with my baby.
I do love her. But I’m not in love with her. Nor with her two brothers or sister. Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I’m not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.
It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.
It was something seldom said. Something that seemed almost taboo. Imagine saying that you love your partner more than you love your child? Even if it’s true. And why do we as a society find that so hard to hear?
Her honesty won her a spot on Oprah, it spawned a book and it certainly allowed mothers to look at the way they feel about their children with a little more honesty. Surely it doesn’t make you a bad mother if you love your husband more than you love your child and certainly not if you love them in a different way.
I’ve spent a lot of time ruminating on my love for my husband. And of course for my child but I can’t control the depth of feeling that I have for my child. The love I have for him is so hugely different to the love that I have for his father.
He’s got his father in him and I love that about him – but I also love all the other parts that make him my son – the bits of me, the parts of my own parents and my siblings that I see in him. Some days I even love the parts of him that clearly come from my husband’s side of the family. He represents all the good in my life and truth be told as much as I love my husband, and I do, there is no greater love I know than the love for my own child.