Here it is, my friends: another piece of cold, hard proof that parenting is difficult AF. In fact, it's normal to have conflict with your partner or co-parent while simultaneously raising your children. A baby's cries are stressful and stress is conflict provoking, after all. Sometimes finding commonality with others is the one thing that gets you through. Luckily, there is no shortage of commonality among parents. For example, the fights couples have when their baby won't stop crying seem to be pretty universal, so at least we know us parents aren't alone.
My first baby had colic, so my partner and I had plenty of time to grow our baby-won't-stop-crying fight muscles. Our second baby seemed mild and quiet by comparison. Our third kid only cries when they're getting teeth, although, and unfortunately, it feels as though baby number three has been getting teeth forever.
I'm here to tell you, dear reader, if these scenarios sound familiar in any way, you're not alone. In fact, a recent study published by Fortune shows that marriage satisfaction generally decreases after a couple has children. My personal contribution to that finding is that it's hard to hold on to the love that made the kids in the first place, especially when their screams are ringing in your ears. Hard as it may be, though, it's totally possible. The love might just look different.
The first step towards accepting the change our kids brought to the love my partner and I share, was for us to acknowledge that there was nothing unique about our disagreements. All parents have the following fights when their kids won't stop crying:
The "It's Your Turn!" Fight
This was a biggie when our eldest had colic. "I've been swinging her back and forth for hours and she still won't quiet down! It's your turn!"
The "We're Damaging Our Baby" Fight
When the baby won't stop crying there has got to be something we're just not getting. If the baby won't soothe we must have been doing something wrong, right?
We would go back and forth for hours on this one. As first-time parents, it's nothing short of terrifying to think something is wrong with your baby you either can't control or figure out. The only bright side here is that our colicky baby is now 7 years old and she's not damaged at all.
The "You Never Get The Baby!" Fight
It seems to be natural that parents face conflict over who gets the baby the most when they cry. Especially if yours is a baby who wakes often in the middle of the night, as all three of ours were.
Then again, I exclusively breastfed our second and third children so can I really blame my partner for not getting up when they cry? I mean, he'll just have to get me up to provide the boob juice anyway. (But, shhh, don't tell him that.)
The "Can't You Get Them To Be Quiet?" Fight
Despite my personal knowledge that a baby sometimes can not be soothed, it seems inevitable that when I'm in another room and I hear our current baby squalling I become frustrated that my partner is just not doing enough. "Why can't you soothe them? Do something else, jeez!"
The "But They Want You!" Fight
We can go back and forth like this forever, if I'm being honest. "If baby doesn't soothe on me that means baby wants you!" Often times, handing the baby back and forth just makes them cry even more and for an extended period of time.
The "We Need Earplugs!" Fight
"Don't tell me the screams are hurting your ears. I know they're hurting your ears. I can hear them, too! Stop talking about it! Your talking adds to the noise. Why don't you just get some earplugs?" If he had earplugs for the baby's cries then I wouldn't need earplugs to block him constantly talking about how irritated his ears are by the baby's cries!
The "Why Can't Your Parents Watch Them?" Fight
It is just me, or when the baby is constantly crying do you get in a tug-of-war over whose parents watch the kid more, too?
The "I Told You So" Fight
This is so unhelpful but both my partner and I have done it. The, "Well, what did you expect? You're the one who wanted kids. Everyone knows babies cry" comment doesn't do anyone a damn bit of good, but it's there so, well, sometimes it's used.
It's not nice, nobody is proud of it, but when you're working off 20 minutes a night of sleep for weeks on end, and you're like us, your brain sorta reverts to childish tendencies.
The "Stop Talking To Me" Fight
Because, seriously? I've been listening to a baby's cries reverberate through my skull for days. I can not hear your voice right now.
The "Would You Just Comfort Them?!" Fight
Right this very moment, my 1 year old won't stop crying. My partner is saying, "I don't know what you want, buddy." I'm saying, "Would you just comfort them already?!"
The "You're Doing It Wrong!" Fight
"Will you just give them to me? That is not how they like to be held. Ugh!"
The "Fine, Whatever" Fight
Resignation. I'm just done. Whatever.
Crying is stressful. It's evolutionarily designed to provoke a response in adults. That's why it works. But after going over some of those all-too-familiar fights I'd like to circle back around. Acknowledging that this is part of the struggle of parenting allows you to accept it and go with it. If you're anything like me, this awareness and knowing we're not alone in our struggles makes it easier for our relationship to survive with love and respect in tact. It's my hope for my relationship, and for yours, dear reader, that you can laugh at the commonality and encourage your partner to do so, too.