When your eyes met across a crowded room and you set your sights on the hot guy with the great eyebrows, you weren’t consciously thinking about what kind of bedtime routine he’d favor as a parent.
In fact even when you walked down the aisle, you never really knew just how good, bad, or indifferent a parent your husband would be because you’d never experienced raising a kid together. (And don’t try to tell me that owning a dog together is the same thing. It isn’t.)
Likewise, he had no idea what kind of mom you were gonna make, because no matter how well you know a person, agreeing on parenting techniques is a whole different ballgame.
Recently, actress and mom of three Jennifer Garner said in an interview with Yahoo Parenting:
“You just go on a ride together because you don’t know who you’re going to be when you first have a baby and you don’t know who [your partner] is going to be. You have to just hang in there while you figure it out — and have a lot of patience for each other.”
I couldn’t agree more. My husband is pretty laid back and I’m not, so I guess it’s no shock that he’s generally the good cop (but scary when he’s angry) and I’m more shouty bad cop (but suddenly good cop when daddy gets mad). But on other things — fundamental parenting issues — we had no idea whether or not we’d be on the same page until we got into it.
Thankfully we both agree kids need routine, and my husband used to get up in the middle of the night to help with feedings and changed as many nappies as I did.
We also both value date night away from our kids and believe that while our children are our priority, we also need to have adult time, where we watch a movie (even on a laptop in bed) or have dinner together. I was relieved to find that he doesn’t feel I should always put the kids before “us.” That our relationship needs watering, too.
As regular gym-goers, we are big believers in kids doing sports. In fact, my husband is now the manager of my son’s cricket team. This however, is not something I could have predicted. As much as my Australian husband loves the sport, he hates any kind of attention and isn’t into “managing” people. So seeing my anti-social other half being chatty with all the cricket team’s parents makes me giggle. It’s a side of him I had never seen before.
Which proves that parenting brings out many things we might not have known about our partner.
I once read a book where a Rabbi told an engaged couple that there are only two things you have to decide upon before marriage:
1. Do you want kids?
2. Decide what religion you will raise them in.
That was it. Now, since becoming a parent, I’ve realized there are so many more topics that my husband and I should have discussed before getting married.
We never talked about how we would handle our kid having a meltdown in the supermarket.
We never discussed who would take responsibility for filling out our kids’ school applications, or buying their uniforms, or organizing their parties.
In the life partner we pick, we know that they likely have a similar outlook and shared values, but translating that into parenthood is a completely different scenario.
For example, I knew my husband has a sugar addiction, but I never expected him to be so against sugary cereals for breakfast. He’s like the breakfast police, making porridge until it comes out of our ears! Likewise, my husband knew my love of Halloween, but he probably didn’t expect me to start planning the yearly Halloween party in early July.
When you go from a partnership to a family, you’re entering an unknown zone.
Having kids, someone once said, is like throwing a grenade into your marriage. You just have to wing it. But there are some things that have helped my husband and I do this:
1. We try not to contradict each other and speak as “one voice” to the kids.
2. We try to have sacred family time, usually around dinner, where we all talk about our days.
3. We try to understand when either one of us is crazy busy with work and try to compromise and help each other.
But still, we are human and often have arguments about who is the most tired/has done the most.
These are fights we never had before kids, but it all comes with the joy of parenthood. You can never predict how it will all work out with your kids, as you don’t know the kids you are going to get. You don’t know the needs they will have and how these needs will test you.
And more importantly, you don’t know how you’ll get all of your different personalities to mesh together to make a family. But the joy is in this daily challenge — and to me, simply nothing comes close.More On