Prior to meeting my partner, I never wanted children. Even though I'd been in serious relationships before, I never envisioned myself raising a child with someone. I never wanted to be a mom or daydreamed about being pregnant or had baby names picked out. Then I met my partner and things changed. Suddenly, I knew I could be a parent because he'd be the one I was parenting with. That doesn't, however, make co-parenting easy. I've realized there are signs you actually like co-parenting, it's just hard AF; so hard that you wonder if you can continue to raise a child with someone else; so hard that you want to just quit parenthood altogether because, ugh, it's a lot of responsibility, you guys.
My partner and I aren't married, and don't plan on ever being married. While we live together and we're romantically involved, we still check the "single" box on our taxes. We come from very different backgrounds, different families, and even have different political beliefs (which has made this election cycle nothing if not interesting). Because we're not the same exact person, there are moments when co-parenting seems like a f*cking chore I absolutely do not want to do. Sometimes, I want to be the only one making the decisions because, well, I wouldn't have to come to an agreement with someone else. Sometimes, I want to be the one to spend time with my son — by myself — because then I would have his undivided attention and I could be the person to give him everything he needs.
Those moments and those feelings, as valid as they are, are also fleeting. It doesn't take long for the frustration to subside, perspective to come back into focus and for me to remember that I wouldn't want to parent with absolutely anyone else. I know that co-parenting can be challenging, but it's so worth it (when your co-parent isn't toxic or physically, emotionally or verbally abusive, of course). Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it's not worth it. So, with that in mind, here are just a few signs that you really do like co-parenting, it's just really f*cking hard sometimes.
Your Arguments With Your Co-Parent Aren't Vindictive...
The majority if not all of the arguments I have with my parenting partner, aren't vindictive. We don't find things to nitpick and we don't look for reasons to be upset; we're genuinely arguing or disagreeing because we feel passionately about something and think that our point of view is valid and whatever we're failing to agree on is worth discussing.
...And Are Usually Necessary...
Is it fun to argue? Absolutely not. However, I would argue that there are moments when an argument is absolutely necessary.
For example, when my partner and I found out I was pregnant we started discussing how we were going to "baby proof" our apartment. I immediately said my partner needed to get rid of the gun he has in our closet. He disagreed, and pretty passionately. We don't feel the same way about guns or gun control, but we knew we needed to figure out what we were going to do about a firearm in our home and well before our baby arrived. So many of those discussions ended up being arguments, but we had to work through it to find a compromise we were both comfortable with.
...And Center Around Your Kid And What You Both Think Is Best For Them
Even when our arguments are the the most frustrating, I know they are necessary because they involve our son. Because we argue in a healthy way, and no one is being verbally abused or disrespected, I don't feel like the arguments we have about our son or our parenting are "bad" or signs that we are failing as co-parents. I know we both love him so much that we want to raise him to the best of our ability, and sometimes what we think is best can vary because we're two different people from two different backgrounds.
You Step On One Another's Toes Because You're Both Involved
If I'm being honest, I had to admit when there are moments that lead me to believe it would be much easier if I didn't have a parenting partner. Sometimes — sometimes — not having to check in with someone or make sure they're on board with a certain parenting decision would be, you know, nice. Of course, I tend to have that thought when I'm frustrated and my parenting partner and I aren't agreeing on something; I know that parenting my son on my own would be infinitely harder than trying to come to some kind of agreement with my partner.
Co-parenting can get a little "crowded," and make you feel like it would just be nice to be the only one responsible for your child. Then again, you start to think about what it would be like if you were the only one responsible for your child, and things get put back into perspective.
You Need Space Because You're "Touched Out," Not Because You No Longer Care About Your Partner
After my son was born and I was exhausted and co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand and spending every second of every day in constant, physical contact with another human being, I needed my space. I didn't want anyone else to touch me, including my parenting partner.
At first he was offended, and thought that perhaps I didn't care about him anymore. People are always quick to tell you that your relationships are going to change once you've procreated, and because we aren't married people assumed (ugh) that, eventually, we would no longer be together and I would end up a single mother (as if that's a bad thing to "end up" being). However, once I explained to my partner that it wasn't him, at all, but the demands of motherhood and my need for bodily autonomy, we found ourselves on the same page. Sometimes a person just needs space and moments to themselves, mothers included.
Compromises Can Be Challenging, But You're Both Actively Trying To Compromise Anyway
There are plenty of moments when it would be easy for one or both of us to just throw our hands up in the air and concede the point to the other. When we're fighting for what we think is right when it comes to raising our son together, it can be challenging to "meet in the middle." In fact, I've realized in my two years as a co-parent, that there are moments when compromise is impossible (and something that, honestly, shouldn't happen). For example, a woman shouldn't be compromising when it comes to labor and delivery. She shouldn't be compromising when it comes to breastfeeding and what she decides she wants to do with her body.
However, the moments when I know we can compromise are moments my partner and I are dedicated to experiencing, even when they suck. Sure, we could both say we don't care and let the other one make all the decisions, but we are both parents and both share the responsibility of making the parenting decisions.
You Get A Little Jealous Of Your Parenting Partner When Your Kid Wants Them, And Not You...
I'm a human being, so there are moments when I get pretty jealous that my son wants his father, and not his mother. After all, I am the one who carried him inside my body for over 40 weeks, then pushed him outside of my body (which was painful, just FYI). Yes, sometimes it's nice that he wants dad (and not just for dad, as I want and deserve a break), but I usually feel a little tingle of resentment towards my partner when he's able to provide my son with something I can't.
...But It Makes You Happy That Your Kid Has Options
Still, I wouldn't want it any other way. My son has two loving, caring parents, and I know that not every child has that. He has options, and can run to either mom or dad when he needs or wants something.
You Respect Them Because Of How Great A Parent They Are...
I can't imagine a world where I don't love and respect my son's father, regardless of whether or not we're romantically involved for the rest of our lives. Short of him becoming physically, emotionally or verbally abusive, I will always have profound respect, admiration and love for him because he's the father of my son and he's raising him to be a wonderful human being.
Even when I am so incredibly pissed off at him, or frustrated with him. Even when I hate him (and it happens, trust me) I love him. I always want him to be happy, even when he's driving me insane, because he's a wonderful father. Is it always easy to co-parent with someone? Absolutely not. However, when you're co-parenting with someone who is a dedicated parent, the frustrating times are worth that person being part of your child's life (and yours, too).
..But You Know They're Also More Than Just A Parent
Just like I want my partner to see me as more than the mother of his child, I know I need to see my parenting partner as more than just the father of my child. He is still human being with other needs, thoughts and feelings that are in no way connected to our son. He's still a complex, multidimensional human being and parenthood hasn't erased the other parts of himself that are worth respecting.
No Matter How Frustrated You Get, You Couldn't Imagine Parenting Without Them
Even on our worst days, when we're not on the same page or seeing eye-to-eye or not feeling like the other one is doing their fair share, I can't imagine raising my son with anyone else. I can't imagine not having my parenting partner in my life, even when he's driving me insane. He can fill me with rage, but he is still my person and someone I am so happy to be raising my son with.
That's probably the one and only sign you really need to remind you that even when co-parenting is tough, it's something you're more than happy to do. It's not easy carrying such an important responsibility with someone else — especially someone who comes from a different background than you do or is, you know, just not you — but when the difficulty is worth it, you know you've found a wonderful parenting partner.