There is no such thing as the perfect family. There is, however, such a thing as a family that's developed ways to navigate life's ups and downs together perfectly. What that looks like for families differs depending on various factors, but what most of us have in common is a desire to maximize health and wellness while minimizing unnecessary stress. Thankfully, the things your parenting partner can teach you will help you increase the positive and decrease the negative... and in all aspects of your life.
Relationships tend to grow more complicated when you become a parent, only because new humans entering into the family dynamic change things. Like, big time. For me, being a new mom has been an interesting journey that leaves me feeling as blessed as I feel exhausted. I'm thankful every moment for my husband, my incredible parenting partner, for helping me navigate the countless changes and struggles I face as a new mom. He's even taught me some things along the way that I never fully understood until we started this journey together. And I know that within our unique family unit, it is my husband, and only my husband, who can teach me these specific things that help me in all other areas of my life.
Of course, this isn't to say single parents and/or parents who aren't parenting with a partner can't learn these exact lessons. As moms, we find help in a variety of ways and via a variety of people. But if you are parenting with a partner, you can probably look forward to learning the following things from them:
1. It's Necessary to Ask For Help
While this lesson, like every lesson that follows, is something that people other than your parenting partner can teach you, there's a deep and intimate level of understanding that comes only from going through parenthood with someone.
Since becoming a parent, and learning about parenting with my partner, I've accepted that sometimes it's necessary to ask for help. This took me a long time to learn, but it's a very important lesson that has helped me in every other aspect of my life. If you have someone to help you, you have to make sure you're asking for help when you need it because, let's face it: you need it. We all need it. Long days, sleepless nights, hours spent wondering if you'll be able to use the bathroom without rushing, the list goes on. Ask for help.
There are countless reasons why it can be difficult to ask for help. For me it's a strange combo of past trauma and stubbornness. But whatever the reasons, there are some moments that require we receive support. My partner does an amazing job of reminding me that he's here, that it's his duty to raise our child, and that he's committed to making sure that I never feel like I'm doing things alone. That always makes it a bit easier for me to even start to ask for help... from him or someone else.
2. You're Not Alone
Those feelings of fear, worry, shame, guilt, excitement, helplessness, happiness, and joy that you experience? Yeah, your parenting partner feels them, too. They may not always say it or express those feelings in ways we can understand, but they're navigating a whirlwind of emotions just like we are.
My partner is teaching me to accept the fact that I'm not alone. Even in those moments where I feel the most alienated, I'm not alone. Those moments when I want to cry and scream into the pillow, I'm not alone. Your parenting partner can teach you that you're in this together and help you come up with ways to feel less alone.
3. You're Working Harder Than You Give Yourself Credit For
Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough. Well, most of the time I feel like I'm not doing enough.
I'm so thankful that I have a partner who keeps it real with me, every single day, and reminds me that I'm doing a great job. It's easy to get lost in the minutes, hours, day, and weeks as a parent. As a mom who works from home and is the primary caregiver to our child, I often find myself losing track of the time, like: What day is it? And in what month? This clock never seemed so alive! My partner teaches me that I should be more honest with myself about how much I work and how important that work is.
4. Turn To Your Partner For Advice, Not Your Friends
It's totally normal to ask friends and family for advice about different things. I think that's especially true when you're a parent, and you want to pick the brains of other parents. Sometimes, though, it's better to bring those questions and concerns directly to your partner, instead of anyone outside of your immediate family.
We all have different things about our families that make them unique. Add those things to factors like race, class, disability status, income, religion, and more, and things get even more complicated. There is no one else who can help you make sense of and respond to the parenting issues in your life than you parenting partner. This is the person who goes through it all with you, watches your child grow with every day, knows your child's different cries, and knows what makes your kid feel the most happy and safe.
Of course, I turn to friends and family for some things, but there are some things that are honestly no one else's business and I just know that no one could help me or guide me like my parenting partner could.