The start of my family wasn't what many would, probably, consider "normal." My partner and I weren't married, we didn't know each other for very long (less than a year) and while we had a lot in common, we were also pretty different, especially when it came to politics. When I found out I was pregnant and we weighed our options and decided we wanted to be parents together, we knew we would face plenty of challenges. What I didn't realize, however, is that we would also share moments that made me realize my parenting partner was my best friend; Moments that solidified our relationship and our new roles as "mom" and "dad." While so many of our friends and family members and random acquaintances were wondering if we would "work" and if having a baby together (prior to getting married and without a lot of shared time under our collective belts) was a "mistake," I was realizing that I was choosing to be a mother with my very best friend.
Of course, any parenting team can and usually will experience these moments. Whether you're married or your co-parenting with your mom (or any other family member), you'll realize that when someone is helping you raise another human being, they're your best friend. When you're vulnerable and scared but empowered and more capable than you ever believed yourself to be, the person who is there with you, constantly supporting you, helps you realize that there is friendship anyone can experience, and then there is a friendship only a parenting team can experience.
My parenting partner and I still aren't married, and I doubt we ever will be. At this point, after everything we've already been through and the parenting moments we've shared, simply calling him my absolute best friend feels like more than enough. So if you, like me, are a new mom going through parenthood with someone by your side, here are a few moments that will make you realize your parenting partner is the freakin' best friend you've ever (and probably will ever) have:
When You Can Have Silent Conversations Between One Another In A Public Place
It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of the night and you're silently deciding who is getting up with the baby, or it's in the middle of some kid's birthday party and you're both ready to go but can't say you want to leave out loud, you two have ability to communicate sans words and it's awesome. I can't tell you how many times I've given my partner nothing more than a look, and I know he is thinking the same thing. It gets us out of family events (sorry mom), toddler birthday parties (sorry friend) and awkward playdates (sorry random mom at the playground).
When You Can Be Completely Honest About How Difficult Parenthood Is...
Parenthood is a wonderful experience, but it's also really freakin' hard and sometimes not fun (like, at all) and can fill you with a slew of emotions that you wouldn't necessarily categorize as "warm and fuzzy." When you voice your honest feelings about parenthood, like how sometimes you don't want to do it and sometimes you don't particularly like your kid, you can be judged and shamed and, well, made to feel like your valid feelings are indicitive of your parenting abilities as a whole. When your parenting partner is your best friend, you can share your less-than-stellar feelings about motherhood and get nothing but understanding and support and solidarity.
...And They Don't Judge You...
Best friends don't silently judge one another or wait to shame one another in public forums; both, sadly, relatively common occurrences when you share a part of your life on social media, especially as a parent. I've had great friends, even mom friends, shame me for my parenting choices and judge me for posting this picture or saying this particular thing or admitting that I sometimes feel way too overwhelmed.
Not my parenting partner, though. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to feel like, no matter what, I always have someone in my corner. Someone who gives me this silent reassurance that it's OK to be human and feel human feelings and think human thoughts, even and especially when it comes to motherhood and my kid.
...They Just Agree
Sometimes, I just need to bitch and vent and have someone tell me that I'm right. I mean, yes, I want my parenting partner to tell me when I'm wrong (and trust me, he does) but sometimes I just need reassurance, and he provides that for me.
When You Can't Split The Responsibilities Equally, And They Don't Mind
I, personally, don't think that any relationship is ever a complete 50/50 split. Sometimes, one partner is going to need more from the other, so one partner will end up giving 60 percent or 70 percent, until the scales tilt in the other direction. For me, true partnership is the willingness to constantly evaluate the situation to see where two people are at and what two people need, and then adjusting accordingly.
When I was experiencing postpartum depression, my partner picked up the slack around the house. When I was busy working 12 hour days, my partner spent more (if not almost all) of his time taking care of our son. And, of course, when he needed a night out I was the one who stayed behind with our toddler. When he had to work over a long weekend, I was the one who worked and took care of our son, 100 percent of the time. That's partnership. That's friendship.
When You Can Both Talk About Poop Like You're Poop Scientists
If this isn't friendship, I don't know what is. I talk to my partner constantly about poop. When I was pregnant, I was letting him know that I wasn't pooping. When I was postpartum, I was letting him know how painful it was to poop. When we changed our newborn's diapers, it was the color and consistency of all the poop. We are constantly evaluating poop, and in a weird way, I love it. We're so comfortable with one another that poop conversations ain't no thang.
When They See You At Your Most Vulnerable And Tell You How Powerful You Are
I have some absolutely wonderful friends, who have seen me at my freakin' worst. Friends who have taken care of me when I was a drunken moron during my college shenanigans; Friends who have consoled me when other friends have died; Friends who have promised me that bad times do, in fact, get better. However, when you're in labor and you're naked and you're pooping in front of strangers and you're in pain and you're terrified and you're so exhausted and you're just not sure you can do it anymore, and your parenting partner looks you in the eyes and tells you, "You can do this. You're so powerful. You're amazing. You got this," you know that you have found your absolute, without a doubt, best friend.
When They're Not Afraid To Tell You There's Baby Puke In Your Hair...
A great friend will tell you when you have something in your teeth. A best friend will tell you when yo have baby puke in your hair and (probably) baby poop on your shirt and a baby wipe stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
...While Simultaneously Telling You That You Look Fantastic
There were so many times, especially when I was postpartum and exhausted and trying to get used to the dramatic life change that is becoming a mother, that my partner took the time to tell me that he thought I was beautiful. Now, whether or not I believed him is a different story for a different time, but I can't tell you how much I appreciated him telling me that I was stunning while I was breastfeeding, completely sleep-deprived and in desperate need of a shower.
When You Can Discuss Parenting Decisions Without Getting Angry...
Even the most well-researched, on-the-same-page parenting team will face disagreements. Because no two people are exactly the same, you will come across a particular situation that will require discussion. For my partner and I, that's gun control and whether or not we should have a gun in our house, now that we have a toddler. I always knew he was a dear friend, but when we were able to discuss such a heated topic with poise and grace and respect and understanding, I knew he was my best friend.
...And You Both Respect One Another's Backgrounds And How It Shapes Your Parenting Choices
Your partner won't come from the same family as you, or perhaps even the same town or the same part of the country. Being able to not only respect, but celebrate, the differences between you two and how, when combined, they make you the best parenting team for your little, is a true sign of forever friendship.
When They Notice Something You've Done For Your Kid (Or Them)
Best friends just know things. It's kind of uncanny and even a little creepy, but it's also wonderful and can leave you feeling like you're absolutely, unequivocally understood and accepted by another human being. When my partner notices something I've done for our son, even if it's so minor and not worth mentioning, I know he's my best friend. When he notices and thanks me for preparing his coffee or buying that favorite guilty pleasure snack for no reason, I know he's my best friend.
When You Both Cry At A Milestone Together
Because only true BFFs think successfully peeing in a potty is worth a few tears. I mean, if you stop and think about it, it's kind of ridiculous that parents just lose their ever lovin' minds when a baby simply rolls over. However, it's the most amazing thing and worth all the happy tears and if you can feel unabashed excitement and joy in the little things, with you partner, you guys are the best of friends.
When They Let You Sleep In
This is love, you guys. This is "friends forever" status. This is the ultimate token of affection and admiration and dedication. This is what you hope for, and this is what you deserve. Seriously, when my partner gave me the beautiful ability to stay in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings while he took our baby and, later, our toddler, I could have married the man right then and there. In my pajamas. Without a shower.
I mean, we're not married, but still. You get the idea.
When You Laugh Through The Weirdness That Is Parenthood, Together
If you can laugh through the sleepless nights and the never-ending fear and the self-doubt, you guys are best friends. If you can laugh at the silly mistakes you'll inevitably make, you're best friends. Best friends can make even the most stressful, serious, potentially overwhelming situation, worth laughing at.