Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Port
This is super hard to admit—so please don’t judge me right off the bat—but when I found out I was pregnant, I was rocked by this sudden fear that my husband Timmy would love the baby more than he loved me. It was an insecurity that made me feel ashamed, so much so that it took me weeks to say it out loud. Once I finally mustered up the guts to tell Timmy, he said that if he ever had to choose between the baby and me, he’d always choose me.
Of course, I felt immediately awful for putting that scenario in his head. And then, because I’m overly self-aware to a fault, I felt insane for needing his reassurance in the first place.
And so goes this abusive cycle I continually bring upon myself: I express an insecurity, I wait for Timmy’s reassurance, I feel guilty I made it his problem—and I feel even worse because now he knows I’m insecure. Then comes the shame that I actually am this insecure.
Okay… now you can feel free to judge away.
To be perfectly honest, this pattern in my behaviour began several years prior to Sonny’s arrival. After my dad died, I became a significantly more fragile version of my former self. The emotional complexity of my loss created an influx of anxiety. I was constantly sad—for my own loss, but even more so, for my mom’s loss. Thinking about her loneliness tormented me. I’d compare my life to those around me and throw pity parties for myself. I cried every day for that first year without him, and looked at life with a different perspective. Some days I didn’t think it was worth living, and other days I’d want to seize the moment. Add to that a layer of guilt for having these feelings, when I knew how many people had it so much worse.
Yes, we all have baggage, and my newest baggage made me extremely insecure: Timmy fell in love with a positive, bright-eyed, 20-something girl who looked at life half-full. Who was this new person? She was hardly recognizable, even to me.
In my eyes, I became a burden to my partner. When Timmy would go out with his friends, I’d get nervous that he’d feel so relieved that he wasn’t tending to me that it would lead him to complain about our relationship. My mind would spiral from there: Would he feel so unburdened that it could lead him to find someone else? Someone less complicated? Could it lead him to cheat or break up with me?
I repeated this narrative to myself so frequently that it ultimately caused fights between Timmy and me—fights that weren’t even based on any sort of reality. My skewed perception was my reality. I was losing my sense of self, and the confidence I’d once been so proud to have.
Knowing this about my history, you can perhaps understand a bit more as to why these insecurities arose again when Sonny was on the way. At that point in the pregnancy, I was constantly sick and my hormones were raging. All the normal questions that a mother-to-be has were magnified: Would I be a natural? Would I lose my freedom? Would my body bounce back? Would Timmy think I was a good mom? Would he still be attracted to me? I envisioned our child as this new, shiny, tiny thing that would not inflict any of this torment on Timmy.
All of these doubts made me wonder: Would Timmy stop wanting to take care of me and prefer the baby instead? Six months in, I can report that the answer to that last question is no… mostly.
Timmy is a very attentive husband, but after his paternity leave ended, he’d come home from work and immediately go into the baby’s room without so much as a hello to me. At the end of a long day away from his family, I felt as though he was more excited to see the baby than he was to see me. (And here I am conflicted again: As I typed that last sentence, all I could think was, That’s how it should be! The baby is new and precious and Timmy’s missed him all day. Everyone should be so lucky to have as loving a father as him. And yet… I still couldn’t stop myself from feeling insecure.)
I got up the courage to tell him that I was upset by what felt like a dismissal of my presence. Since then, Timmy will check in with me first. He’s incredibly good at hearing me, and by that I don’t simply mean listening. I mean actually adjusting his actions based on conversations we have. Unless, of course, what I’m saying is totally outrageous. And you better believe that in those cases, he will tell me so. And for that honesty and candor, I’m grateful.
From all this comes my latest struggle: that feeling of wanting your spouse to do what you need them to do—without having to ask. It’s like that scene in The Break-Up, where Jennifer Aniston’s character Brooke wants her boyfriend Gary (Vince Vaughn) to help her with the dishes after she works her ass off preparing dinner for their two families, but he wants to play video games instead. After prolonged begging, he finally—begrudgingly—agrees to help. But she’s had enough. “I want you to want to do dishes,” she tells him. He doesn’t get it, nor does he understand why anyone in their right mind would want to do the dishes. They break up… you get the picture.
I wanted Timmy to want to see me first when he came home. I didn’t want to have to ask for it. I don’t want to ask for date night, either. I just want him to want to take me out.
Trust me when I say I realize how unfair this is. It’s not right to keep Timmy guessing; it almost seems like setting him up to fail. Especially because communicating to him what I want and expect and need is such an easy solution. Like my mom used to say, If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, I won’t know how to make it right.
This could be yet another insecurity I’m sharing with you, but I feel the need to say that Timmy and I sincerely do have a wonderful relationship. We communicate openly, we fight fair, we want to be with each other. Even if it’s a quick errand, we’d always rather go together than go alone. We are on the same page when it comes to decisions about Sonny; our instincts are typically the same. Timmy is the funniest person I know, who always puts family first, and I trust his opinion about everything.
But all those good bits don’t cancel out my insecurities. I wish they would.
So here’s the remedy I’ve used to quell my insecurities: remembering that Timmy and I were two before we were three. I truly believe that if the core of your family isn’t strong, the rest will fall apart. That’s why, when Timmy and I aren’t on the same page, I remind myself that nothing is set in stone, that our relationship is constantly evolving. A healthy relationship relies on both people holding one another accountable for their actions. Because of that, we can work together to come back to centre. As Timmy always tells me: There’s a huge difference between my perception and the reality of any given situation. The great thing is, I’ve found a partner who allows me to feel comfortable expressing my perceptions—and then helps me come back down to earth.
Also important: While you’ve got to speak up, and speak your truth, you must pick your battles. It’s a cliché for a reason. Life is full of annoying details; try not to let them get in the way of what really matters. Just because Timmy didn’t come say hi to me first when he came home from work doesn’t mean he didn’t want to or loved me any less.
At the end of the day, we didn’t choose Sonny. We chose each other. And we would choose each other over and over and over again. Sonny brightens our light every single day, but the foundation of our relationship is the light. And until the very end, I’ll strive every day to keep it turned on, glowing brightly.