I am happy to acknowledge that, when it comes to co-parents, I really lucked out. Not only is my partner engaged, attentive, and a natural at this whole dad thing, but we just click. In fact, I feel comfortable going so far as to say he's my co-parenting soul mate. After all, I could check off every single box on the list of signs your partner is the person you're meant to parent with, so I wasn't all that surprised when it was, in fact, time to parent and we did it as a successful, cohesive unit.
Although, I must confess I have some feels about the word "soul mates" in general. Truth be told, I don't actually believe in them. Sure, there are people that you can automatically and famously get along with, but I think there's more than one of those for everyone. What ultimately makes someone your soul mate is the same work that comes along with building any strong relationship. In short, parenting soul mates aren't born: they're forged in the fires of parenting hell, over the course of innumerable trials and tribulations and many a long and difficult conversation.
So if you're worried that you and your partner might not be dwelling in co-parenting nirvana together, the good news is that it's still something you can work towards. If you think that maybe, just maybe, you've found the person the universe has always wanted you to parent with, but you're not quite sure, see if the following applies to you:
There Is An Unspoken Division Of Tasks
I mean, they're probably unspoken at this point because you also spend a long time talking (because, in all things, communication is key), but when you find your parenting soul mate you also find yourself part of a well-oiled machine, one in which everyone knows their task and what needs to be done. Sometimes, with a mere gesture of the head and a simple "Babe...", one partner can signal to the other, "Hey, I'm preoccupied with the oldest right now, but the little one needs a bath, can you go do that?" And, magically, it's done.
You Complement Each Other's Strengths & Weaknesses
Because there are some parts of parenting you just don't want to handle. For example, and for reasons I can't quite articulate, I really hate dealing with brushing my kids' teeth and/or getting my kids to brush their teeth. It just annoys me. My partner loathes attending birthday parties for classmates. Fortunately, I'm totally down with buying gifts and small talk and my partner's OK with promoting dental hygiene. Our patience for different aspects of the gig works out nicely and leads me to believe that I have, indeed, found my person.
You Give Each Other Time To Yourselves
Because your parenting soul mate is, ideally, also someone who adores you outside of who you are as a parent. As such, they want to ensure that you are able to refocus some energy on yourself in order to stay in touch with what makes you you. Whether that means a weekly couple-hours-long video game binge or parenting solo so the other can go out with friends, your meant-to-be parenting person is not only happy to help you out, but encourages you to recharge your batteries.
You Always Back Each Other Up
Our oldest learned long ago that asking daddy for something after mommy said no (or vice versa) is futile, because my husband and I are "on the same team." Our youngest is still learning and recently tried this move, only to be told by her brother, "Gigi, mommy and daddy are on the same team. Daddy said no, so mommy is going to say no, too. I'm sorry."
That, my friends, was one of my proudest parenting moments to date.
There's No "Bad Guy"
This goes along with always backing each other up. One of you is not going to throw the other under the bus by undermining a discipline or rule that the other person has established. Neither will one say "yes" to something that has been long established as a household "no."
And if there's a moment where one of you slips up (we've all done it, or at least I have), that person is the one to rectify to the situation. Whoever accidentally giveth must be the one to taketh away so as not to establish a "fun parent" and a "mean parent."
You Get The Same Ideas At The Same Time
You have absolutely found your parenting person when, on a lovely day, you both turn to each other at the same time and one of you says, "So I was thinking we could take them out for ice cream," and you say, "That's exactly what I was just about to say!"
To be fair, I'm usually thinking about going out for ice cream, so this may not be a soul mate thing so much as my husband knowing that I always want dessert.
You're On The Same Page About The Big Issues
Think about any huge parenting debate you've ever spin out of control on a Mommy Board — spanking, circumcision, breastfeeding, vaccines, schooling — chances are pretty good that you and your person see eye to eye on just about all of them. Your parenting philosophies are very similar and you wind up falling on the same side of a lot of otherwise heated debates.
When You're Not On The Same Page, You Can Talk About It Civilly
Because you're soul mates, not clones. Of course there are going to be some things out there that you debate about. Regardless of your disagreements, however, you listen to one another, try to understand their perspective, and take that all into account while moving forward. Just because you aren't 100 percent in sync doesn't mean you won't ultimately be able to come up with a parenting plan you both find satisfactory.
You Talk To Each Other About Parenting
This is the behind the scenes magic of the unspoken parenting blitzes you and your partner unleash. Talking about what's important to you as parents and as a family (not just once but establishing the subject as an ongoing conversation) is clutch to a harmonious home. You two are not only fine with having these conversations, you welcome them because you know that it's going to make for less stress in the long run.
You Understand Each Other's Bouts Of Sentimentality
My husband understands that there are just going to be some times when I look at my kids and cry because OMG JUST LOOK AT THEM WE MADE THEM. I understand that every time our kids ask to play with him when he's in the middle of something, Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" starts playing in the back of his mind and he gets as close to tearing up as I've ever seen him.
As parenting soul mates, we understand one another's "mush triggers."
They Laugh With You At Inappropriate Times
One day, while visiting my grandparents, our children, hand-in-hand, stood at the edge of the woods in the back yard. Of course I took a picture, then I showed it to my husband and asked,
"How funny would it be if we Photoshopped Slender Man into this?"
It takes a special, twisted mind to joke about terrifying, supernatural child predators. Fortunately, my dude's brain is as demented as mine and he laughed.
Oh, and a friend of mine actually did Photoshop Slender Man into the photo:
Other inappropriate moments you and your soulmate might chuckle over include your kid innocently repeating some adult language they overheard, or watching them do something particularly clumsy or ill-advised because you know they're not actually hurt or scarred in any way, and, let's face it, it was really funny.
They Call You "Mother"
Ha! Just kidding! That would be creepy AF. If your partner does this, run.