Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: The Art of Parenting Together...WITHOUT any Casualties   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Art of Parenting Together...WITHOUT any Casualties

I am an only child. In short, this means that I have a long history of being terrible at sharing. I never had to duke it out with a sibling over a my little pony, or work tirelessly to try and remain the parental favorite. I was, by default, the favorite.

I never realized that this background in crappy sharing ability and perpetual favoritism would have an affect on my own parenting ability, and yet it has.

My husband and I are both new at this parenting gig, but from the beginning I have always felt like I know best. Biologically speaking, there may be a tad bit of truth to that. I did grow our baby in my womb and all, nourish him at my breast, but I digress. For the sake of parenting together, as a team, my "mother knows better than father" philosophy is a shitty one to adopt.

When the baby was first born, I wouldn't even let my husband take him into another aisle at the supermarket. I would literally pummel him for suggesting it. Who was HE to run off with the baby? The baby might cry, or get hungry, soil himself, or simply realize he was in the inept hands of his father and fear for his life.

As time progressed, this led to my husband feeling alienated and disempowered. He wanted to help, I was exhausted and wanted his help, but months of shouldering the parenting duties by myself meant that he didn't know what to do. Every once in awhile, he would insist on helping and the baby would cry frantically until I came and "rescued" him. As much as I loved my husband, he clearly didn't have the chops. Every instance in which the baby cried in his care, reaffirmed my notion that he could not be an effective...or even a sub par parent. The baby obviously needed me, and could not be entrusted to his dad's care.

I'm not sure if I ever had a dramatic epiphany moment, or if the realization of what I was doing creeped in slowly over time. But at some point, it hit me.
By taking away his opportunities for "hands-on" learning, I had essentially crippled my husband as a father.

My husband needed the experience! By running in to "rescue" the two of them, every time the baby cried, I had deprived them both of the opportunity to learn. To understand one another.To improvise.
Once I started letting go of the reigns a little more, my husband began to navigate the crazy world of parenting with ease. My son became much more attached to his father, and I was even able to sneak away for the occasional bit of "me-time". Basically, everyone benefited from it.

Fourteen months later, my husband can now take the baby out for hours, without any much trepidation on my part. I have stopped trying to mold him into my idea of the "perfect parent;" with the realization that he already is.

His parenting formula is certainly a bit different from mine, but he is still the perfect dad for our child. Dressing the baby means a lot of stripes matched with plaid, and feeding him means more bites of cookies and ice cream than I would ever allow. Play-time entails throwing the baby in the air or wrestling him on the ground. Both of which make my stomach catch in my throat as I watch, but cause our son to erupt in giggles and exude pure, unadulterated  joy.

We parent differently because we are different. Neither way of parenting is superior, and both add value to and compliment our child. We have no parenting manual, and as this is our "starter" baby, we are figuring things out as we go. For now, we trudge on, navigating our way through the crazy, murky waters of parenthood. But this time, we are hand-in hand, against the world.

3 comments:

  1. And you will love every minute of it together. I really mean that. WE laugh a ton.
    Especially when welie in bed and night and talk about "what a little jerk" our toddler was at the grocery store. :)

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    1. Being able to laugh is the only thing that gets us through some days!! It is truly the foundation of our marriage and friendship. We totally laugh at what a little d-bag our toddler can be and laugh harder because he is just like US! :)

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  2. Hi there! Just stopping by to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Please go here for all of the details: http://whineywife-jn.blogspot.com/2012/10/liebster-award.html

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