I'm honestly not one to make a slew of promises. I mean, my partner and I have been together for almost four years, and I can't even bring myself to promise to marry him. Making sweeping declarations is trouble, in my opinion, as promises are pretty damn easy to break. Still, there were promises I made to my partner the moment I became a mom, knowing our lives had changed and, as a result, so would our relationship. Those promises (for the most part because, hey, I'm not perfect) have stuck, and have turned into the foundation of our parenting relationship. So OK, fine. Sometimes making a promise or two isn't all that bad.
The pregnancy that ended with my son entering the world was a very, very unplanned one. My partner and I had only been dating for around six months which, in my opinion, isn't a very long time. Still, there was something deep inside the pit of my stomach that told me he was it, and that I wanted and could successfully have a happy and healthy family with this incredible man. That pit never tells a lie, mind you, so here I am: four years and a now-2-year-old toddler later, still in love with the guy who ordered me a whiskey coke at a bar in Seattle.
Of course, that doesn't mean maintaining a happy and healthy relationship is easy. It's hard as hell, especially when you're responsible for another mini-human, too. Which is why, whenever my partner and I get in arguments or disagree or just feel defeated by parenthood in general, we revisit the promises we made to one another the moment our son entered the world. They were promises I whispered to him that first night in the hospital, my newborn baby asleep right next to me. They were promises I meant with every fiber of my being, and continue to mean to this very day. They are the promises that have kept us afloat when we felt like sinking, and are the reason we are still as happy as we were the day we met.
That I Would Always "Let" Him Parent...
I hate to even use the word "let" because, well, he is a parent. However, I promised my partner that we would do this thing together. I wouldn't be the default parent simply because I'm a woman, and I wouldn't keep him from doing parent things simply because he's a man. We would both take care of our son as equals.
...And I Wouldn't Assume He Wasn't Capable
I swore I wouldn't do the "silly man who doesn't know how to parent because he's a man is trying to parent that's so cute ha ha ha" thing with my partner. I wasn't going to essentially feed into the gender stereotype that he wasn't automatically capable of caring for our son and, as a result, I would have to "teach" or "train" him. Trust me when I say we were equally clueless as new-parents.
He was going to change diapers, dress our son, feed our son, and do whatever the hell I was doing all on his own. I knew he would be a great father when I found out I was pregnant, and I wasn't going to second-guess that gut feeling when he finally became one.
That I Would Always Be Honest
Communication has always been an important part of my relationship with my partner (hell, my relationship with anyone) but the moment my son entered the world, it became vital. I promised my partner I would always talk to him (whether it was an uncomfortable topic or not) and I would be honest. If he was doing something I didn't like or felt uncomfortable with, especially if it came to our son, I would let him know. We would figure things out together by talking things through.
That I Would Continue To Make Him A Priority In My Life
It's really easy to push your romantic relationship to the back burner once a tiny little human you created enters the world. I knew that our priorities would (and should) shift, but I promised my partner he would still be a priority in my life. I would find the time to let him know how much I love and appreciate him, whether it was a quick kiss between feeding sessions in the middle of the night, or a planned date night. I wanted him to know that while I was now invested in the care and love of our son, I was still invested in our relationship, too.
That If I Was Ever Pregnant Again, I Would Warn Him About Those Pregnancy Farts
Sorry, babe. I know those things were silent and deadly and I never really gave you a heads-up. It was rude and cruel and I will never do that again. Promise.
That I Would Still Need My Alone Time, And So Would He
Motherhood, I have learned, means never really having a moment to yourself. I was and have always been addicted to my "alone time," and giving that up for my son was difficult.
So, you know. I didn't.
I promised my partner that I would still need to find the time to take myself out to dinner and a movie, read a book, or simply enjoy a solo-car ride. I also promised him that I would facilitate his alone time, too. We were parents, but we were also individuals. I think promising one another that we would still encourage one another's individuality is how we've remained so strong and connected throughout the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
That We Would Decide How To Parent Our Child, Together
While there were some decisions that were mine to make (like breastfeeding, because it has to do with me using a specific body part and, well, I'm the only person in charge of my own body) I promised my partner that we would always discuss parenting decisions together and way before putting them into practice.
Whether it was co-sleeping (it saved our sleeping lives) or choosing to teach our son Spanish (listen to a toddler count to 10 in Spanish and you will have heard the cutest thing ever) we were going to make these choices as a team.
That I'd Start Cleaning The Cat Box Again. Eventually.
Ok, I may or may not (but definitely did) break this promise. Our son is now a thriving 2-year-old toddler, and I have yet to clean out that damn litter box. Oh, well. It's the thought that counts, right?
That I Would Always Love Him, Because Now He Would Always Be My Son's Father
My partner and I aren't married (not that it matters, although certain people seem to think so). So, while divorce is definitely a thing and marriage most certainly doesn't mean that two people will be together forever, my partner and I are realistic about life doing some strange things to your plans.
While I truly believe my partner and I will be together for the rest of our lives and until we're old and wrinkly, I can't say that for sure. I can say, however, that I will always love him. Even when I don't like him, I love him. Even when I am angry and frustrated with him, I love him. After all, he is now and will forever be the father of my child. We are attached to one another for the rest of our lives, which made this final promise a really easy one to make.