There is no official rubric that definitively states what makes someone a good parent, a fact that can be a source of stress for new parents. Worrying about whether or not you will be able to handle the responsibility is enough, but how do you know your partner is ready for a baby? I always knew my husband was going to be a great parent one day, but let me tell you when I had the concrete proof I needed. Picture it, pussy cat! Connecticut, 2010, our friend's 30th birthday. The theme: Mad Men, which of course translates to all the gin martinis. Now, gin is my nemesis. I knew this, but like drunk dialing your ex, in an inebriated moment I thought, "No, this is a good idea. This'll prove to myself I can do this." And, like a drunk dial, it ended with me sobbing and embarrassed. When my husband found my cuddled up in our friend's guest room and terrifically drunk, he stroked my hair, managed to make me laugh, and then offered greatest act of kindness I've ever received.
"Sweetie, do you need me to take off your Spanx?"
Boom. That was it. This is the person I needed to impregnate me. Someone who can be sweet, loving, and calming when I'm being ridiculous and know, instinctively, what will make me feel instantly better. Those kind of skills translate perfectly into parenting, dudes. (Because, as we all know, kids are little drunks.)
When I asked a number of women when they knew their partner would make a good parent, most of them didn't have "a moment." In fact the most common answer I received was "I just knew." But for those who could pinpoint it, here's what they had to say.
"I knew the first time I saw the way he smiled when he thought about his dad being a grandfather."
When we spent a summer marathon watching Supernanny and Nanny 911 and he always knew the "right" answer as to what the parents on the show should do.
"I knew right away because we have dogs. I know dogs aren't babies, but I could just tell based on how much he loved and cared for them."
"He basically raised his brother, so he's had practice. (His brother is a great guy, by the way.)"
She's a middle school teacher and she cares so deeply about her students. She's so invested in them: she's cried for them, encourages them in their extracurricular activities, and when they achieve something she beams in pride.
"I was worried, honestly, because he had no experience with kids, but as soon as our daughter was born and he held her, I stopped worrying."
"When he convinced me we should have kids. I was kind of on the fence and I didn't even know he wanted any."
We visited friends who'd just had a baby. It was like someone flipped a switch in both of us and it was like "Okay. Time to get pregnant." It wasn't just like seeing a baby made us want one, though, it was seeing each other with a baby.
"Within weeks of dating. I've always known I wanted kids and I knew I couldn't be with someone I didn't know would be a good dad."
When I got pregnant (whoops) and he was way cooler and calmer about it than I was. He's really pragmatic, but not in an annoying, emotionless or robotic way. He was really reassuring.
"When she told me on our first date that she wanted kids."
"Seeing her with the flower girl at her sister's wedding. This kid was so nervous and was completely over everything, but my wife, who had only met her the night before at the rehearsal dinner, just started talking to her and put her at ease. I melted."
They once took care of me when I had a really bad flu and just made me feel really safe and loved and I thought "Oh wow, they are going to be an awesome parent one day."
"When he started talking about babies all the time. All the time. It was almost annoying, but it was really crazy cute."
He is a little kid, so it made sense that he would be good with them.