9 Things No One Actually Likes About Co-Parenting
I consider myself incredibly lucky to be co-parenting with my amazing partner. While we're not married (and don't ever plan to be) we've created a perfect parenting partnership that not only benefits us, but benefits our son. I knew when I met my partner that he would be an amazing father, and that we would make an amazing set of parents. Still, there are things no one actually likes about co-parenting, and I would be lying if I said I didn't experience those things on a pretty regular basis. After all, parenting is tough and even the most solid, most "together" relationship is going to go through some "rough patches" when a kid is thrown into the mix.
My partner and I had a rough go of it from the very beginning. Initially, I was pregnant with twins and, well, high-risk pregnancies are scary. Then we went through a loss, when one of our twin sons died 19 weeks into the pregnancy. Then we went through more complications — like pre-term labor, a blood infection and a potential heart defect that was misdiagnosed — that made the pregnancy significantly more stressful. Labor and delivery was difficult, because I had to birth a baby that was alive and a baby that wasn't. Through it all, and every day since, my partner was there and I honestly can't imagine going through all of the aforementioned without him.
Still, he's not perfect and neither am I and, while raising our son, we haven't always seen eye-to-eye. There have so many challenging, frustrating moments that made co-parenting less than fun, and I have to think (even if it's just for my own sake) that most parents raising children with someone else feel the same way, too. So, with that in mind, here are just a few things no one actually likes about co-parenting. We can all be honest. This is a safe space.
Agreeing On Certain Parenting Decisions...
Of course I want to agree with my partner when it comes to raising our son, it's just that (sometimes) that's easier said than done. In those moments when we really seem to be at an impasse, being the only person to make the parenting decisions just seems easier. I wouldn't have to "check in" with someone else; I wouldn't have to make sure we're on the same page; I wouldn't have to make sure my parenting partner is comfortable with the decision I want and/or need to make.
There's something to be said for flying solo, my friends.
...And Compromising When You Really Don't Want To
I'm a big fan of compromise (I mean, aren't we all?) and credit my partner and I's ability to compromise as one of the main reasons we hardly ever argue, don't seem to contradict one another and can usually make decisions together.
However, sometimes the child in me kicks in and I simply don't want to compromise. In fact, there are some things I don't think I need or should compromise on. It's just that, in those moments when I feel like I'm completely and totally "right," my partner usually thinks he's completely and totally "right," too. Of course, this is when compromise is the most important, it's just also the most difficult.
Sharing Time With Your Kid
I love that my son gets to spend time with both parents and, usually, we don't really have to "share," because while we're not married, we're together and we live in the same house and we parent as a team.
Still, there are moments when I really just want to spend one-on-one time with my son, and I know my partner feels the same way. Sometimes, I just crave that solo-bonding time and while I am so thankful that the three of us get to be together more often than not, some mother-son time is what I really need.
When Your Kid Wants Your Parenting Partner, Instead Of You
Yes, sometimes this is the best. I need time to myself, too; I need time to go to work and focus on my career; I need time to cultivate and sustain the relationships I have outside of my son, so having him want "dad" instead of "mom" isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world.
Still, sometimes it's really sad. Like, the most sad. He is "supposed" to want mom when he is sad or hurt or angry or scared, right? When he wants dad instead of mom, I can't help but feel like I'm failing, even if (rationally) I know the exact opposite to be true.
Admitting When You're Wrong...
I'm not above admitting that I mess up. A lot. I know that before I'm a mother, I'm a human being, and human beings make mistakes on the regular.
Still, sometimes admitting to my parenting partner that I did something wrong or made a mistake is the worst. We're both adults so we will have those tough conversations and swallow our individual prides when necessary but, still; when you already know you've messed up, having to admit it to another person is like salt on an open wound. Can't we just, like, pretend this super embarrassing or even scary thing didn't happen? That would be the best.
...Or You've Made A Mistake
I will never forget the moment I had to call my partner and tell him that I made a mistake that sent my son to the emergency room. I was feeding him on our kitchen counter (he was strapped to one of those mini-high chairs because our apartment was so small, so this kept him at my level) when I walked away to start working. I focused on my computer for two seconds and heard a loud crash. I didn't realize that my son had grown to the point that his tiny feet were able to reach the kitchen counter, and he pushed himself backwards and towards the ground. He was screaming and crying and clearly frightened, which I took to mean, of course, that he was dying. I called 911 and we took a very expensive ambulance ride to the hospital. He was completely fine (it hurt me way more than it hurt him), but I still had to make that phone call, and it was one of the worst phone calls I have ever made.
On the one hand, having a parenting partner to console me, help me and be there for myself and my son was vital. I am so thankful I had my partner there to remind me that we all make mistakes, my son was completely fine and I wasn't a terrible mother. On the other hand, I could have done without that phone call, too. Admitting that I did something that could have potentially hurt our son was horrible, and I never want to feel that feeling (or have to admit to something I still have trouble forgiving myself for) again.
When You're The Only Parent Who Can Do Something...
Having a parenting partner around while you're literally the only person who can do a specific thing is like a cruel, cruel joke. It's not like my partner could use one of my boobs to breastfeed our son, right? It's not like he could attach himself to a breast pump. I mean, we want to say parenting is an equal split, but it really isn't. Someone will always be doing something a little extra, the important thing is that — when possible — the other person steps up and does a little extra, too.
...Even Though The Other Parent Is There
Those nights when my parenting partner was right next to me, loudly snoring and in some glorious deep sleep, while I was breastfeeding made me want to be a single parent. There, I said it.
When you're exhausted and sleep deprived and engorged and a tiny little human is sucking on your nipples in the middle of the night and you can barely keep your eyes open and your entire body just aches, and someone is sleeping right next to you, you kind of want to scream. I could have kicked my parenting partner, if I'm being honest. Then again, one of us had to sleep.
Admitting That Even When It's Hard, Having A Parenting Partner Is The Best
For as difficult as it is to parent with another person (another person who, even if you love and get along with swimmingly, is still different than you are), it's also kind of awesome. That's easily the worst part about co-parenting: you can't necessarily complain about it. I mean, you can because, well, I just did; but you have to at least acknowledge that your worst day co-parenting (unless you're co-parenting with someone who is toxic or abusive) isn't that bad in the big scheme of things.
If you have a healthy co-parenting relationship and you both respect one another, listen to one another, compromise and assist/support one another whenever you can, even the tough parts are worth it. You know, like most relationships.