I'd like to think that my partner and I have a pretty solid relationship. We've been through a lot in the 4 years we've been together -- individually, as a couple, and as parents -- so I feel confident in saying that we're bound to grow old and haggard together. However, that doesn't mean we're without our faults, or struggles, or downright failures. Some of those hard times are monumental in size and potential consequences, but most are small and relatively insignificant. For example, the times I don't realize my partner is jealous of our baby are sometimes hilarious, usually inconsequential, and really just proof that some things never change in a relationship, even when a baby is thrown into the mix. Still, these small moments are worth taking note of, because all feelings within a relationship (big or small) are valid.
It's no secret that parenthood can (read: does) put a strain on even the most steadfast and healthy of relationships. When someone else needs your undivided time, attention, energy, and effort, it can be difficult to conjure up much of anything else for any other human being in your life. My son is demanding, in so much as he's a toddler and you can't leave toddler to their own devices. In fact, he's been demanding since the moment he entered the world. You know, kids are like that. He needed my body to feed him (hello, breastfeeding), he needed my body next to his in order to sleep (hello co-sleeping) and he needed (and continues to need) every other facet of my being in order to feel loved, cared for, and safe.
My partner understands, because he's sacrificing, too. We both knew, to the best of our ability, what we were in for when we sat down and decided we wanted to be parents. However, the sacrifices necessary in order to sustain another human life are easier to understand in theory, than they are to facilitate in practice. Which is why, through no fault of his own, the following scenarios made my partner a little jealous. Did he act on these valid feelings of envy? Nope, because he's a grown-ass man. Still, these feelings are worth my attention, because baby or not, my partner is still an important person in my life.
When Staying Up All Night With Your Baby Means You Choose Sleep Over "Quality Time"
I exclusively breastfed my son for seven months, so midnight feedings were my domain. That means, while my partner would wake up occasionally in an act of solidarity, I was the one losing the most sleep. So, yeah, if I get a chance to nap at some "odd" hour of the day, that's exactly what I'm going to do. We can't watch that one movie we've been planing on renting for a while? Oh, well. No long talks or snuggles on the couch? Too bad. If I don't get some rest when I can, I will die. Die, I tell you.
For the most part, my partner understood (and was wanting to sleep right along with me) but, still, sometimes I could tell that he was a little resentful. All my energy was going to the baby, and I didn't really have any leftover for him.
When You Focus On Your Baby More Than Your Partner
My "baby" is now a 2-year-old toddler, and he still has a strong hold on the majority of my time and attention. I mean, I'm his mom, and he's a rambunctious little squirt that needs to be somewhat monitored closely, otherwise chaos is sure to ensue.
That means, sometimes, I can't really follow what my partner is saying. That means, sometimes, I can't care about whatever it is my partner is asking me to care about. I try to juggle both my partner and my son, and give them both the attention they deserve, but when push comes to shove, baby trumps partner. It won't always be that way, but I think it has to be that way right now.
When You Don't Want Your Partner To Touch You, While You're Snuggling Your Baby
I'll be the first to admit that it didn't take me very long to get touched out. In fact, a week or so postpartum was my boiling point, and I just didn't want to be touched by another human being. Of course, that's pretty impossible when you're co-sleeping and breastfeeding, but I did tell my partner that for my sanity and any resemblance of bodily autonomy, I didn't want him to touch me.
He understood, and as a respectful man who understands and demands consent, didn't make me feel guilty. However, I could see that he was missing that closeness we effortlessly shared before our son was pushed into the world. I could tell that he had a small, tiny little feeling of, "Well, this is unfair," when my son was snuggled up against me, but I didn't want my partner to give me so much as a hug.
When You're Breastfeeding
Seriously, gentlemen. Breasts aren't for you. They weren't formed to make you happy or give you pleasure of any kind. Sure, they can do those things (if a woman decides that what she would like to use them for) but they are functional body parts. If you're "jealous" that your baby is breastfeeding and your partner isn't using her boobs for whatever sexual reason you'd rather she be using them for, you need to get your priorities in line.
When You Care More About Your Baby's Wellbeing, Than Your Partner's
Look, it's not that I don't care about my partner's health and wellness. I mean, clearly I do. I kinda like the guy, after all. It's just that, well, he's a grown-ass man. He can care for himself more adequately than my 2-year-old toddler can care for himself. So, yeah, I'm going to focus more of my time and energy into making sure that my baby is safe, because my partner isn't, you know, a baby.
Still, when my partner stubs his toe or something and I don't give him the response he's looking for because I'm focused on my kid's dinner, I can tell he's basically standing in the corner thinking, "Um, what about me?"
When You Can't Focus On What Your Partner Is Saying, Because Baby
I know it's frustrating and I try to multitask and follow my partner's train of thought, but when I'm also making sure my kid is eating his food or whatever, I just can't focus. It's hard to split your time and energy between two human beings simultaneously. This is why, honestly, I look forward to my kid's bedtime. That way, finally, I can give my partner my undivided attention (and visa versa) and we can have normal, adult conversations.
When All Your Profile Picture Are Of You And Your Baby, Not You And Your Partner
It's easy to write this off as just "silly social media nothingness," but social media is how we communicate with one another. It's how we present ourselves to the world at large, so I can understand why it's a thorn in any romantic partner's side to be like, "Um, what? Do I suddenly not exist?"
I'm pretty bad with this, to be honest. I usually have a picture of myself, or myself and my son, as a profile picture; a choice that doesn't really present my family as a unit. I'll be more cognizant about this one, dear.
When You Remember Everything For Your Baby, But Forget That One Thing Your Partner Asked You For
I'll have a running list of everything we need to buy our son — from diapers to his favorite fruits to a toy he deserves — and include a few things that I know my partner needs, too.
Inevitably, though, I'll come home from the store with a few extra things for my kid that wasn't on my list, and nothing for my partner that was actually on the list.
When You Give Your Baby The Same Look You Used To Give Your Partner
I met my partner and the father of my son in a bar. Romantic, I know. It was a "blind date," so while I knew what he looked like (hello, internet) I didn't really know what he looked like "in real life." When I walked into that bar, and he stood up from that bar stool, I was floored. I had "the look," a look my partner noticed, and it's the same look I have given him every day for almost 4 years.
Now, however, I give my kid that look, too. The look that says, "You're going to change my life." The look that says, "You've already changed my life." The look that says, "You're everything I hoped you'd be." I can tell that my partner, while understanding, wishes that look was still reserved for him, and only him.
When Driving, A Sudden Stop Has You Reaching For Your Baby, And Not Your Partner
I do this thing (as most people do, I've come to find out) where while in a car and forced to come to a sudden and abrupt stop, I reflexively put my hand out in front of the person next to me. It doesn't matter if I'm driving or in the passenger seat. It doesn't' matter that science suggests that, of course, my tiny little arm isn't going to do much of anything in the event of an accident. It's just a "thing," I do, and it was so endearing to my partner when I used to do it every time we were in a car together.
Now, however, I do it with my son. Even though he's in a carseat, facing the opposite direction, if I'm sitting next to him and facing forward, I will put my arm in front of him when the brakes are suddenly applied. I can't help it, so I really think I deserve a pass on this one.
When You Say "I Thought I Knew What Love Is, And Then I Had A Baby"
I get the sentiment because, well, the love I have for my son is unlike anything I've ever experienced. However, it isn't a love that negates the love I have for my partner. It's just, you know, different.
So please, partners the world over, when you see and/or hear mothers say that they didn't know love until they met their kid, realize that they're only partly telling the truth. They did know and experience real, life-changing, earth-shaking love before they became mothers, it's just the love they have for their baby is an entirely new experience.