S and I grew a lot closer when we had baby W.
Gottman says that the biggest indicator of success when a couple has a new baby in the home is whether or not it’s a shared experience.
Lucky for us, it has always felt, from the day W was born, that we’re in this together. We became teammates and co-parents overnight. At times, it’s so easy and straightforward: I’ll do this, can you do that… a give and take. And there are times when we disagree so strongly on how to parent, or how to do something, that it’s hard to imagine we’ll reach a middle ground.
Most of the time we do. And if we don’t, our competitive natures like to play a little game of — I-knew-he-was-tired-and-ready-for-bed… I-was-right-you-were-wrong. Oops. Not healthy, but at least we’re aware of it.
I think we’re both learning to let go a lot. We hold each other in such high regard as parents that it’s okay that we parent differently together, or alone. We also know at the end of the day that the most important thing we can do is give W our time and attention, and model a healthy relationship. When that comes into perspective, disagreements on how many layers he should be wearing or what kind of carseat to buy or whether he should eat from a spoon or with his hands… well, they don’t matter in the long run.
We also have lost, in a lot of ways, our chance to connect together as a couple at the end of the day. That used to be all we did when we were “single” without a kid! It was about meeting friends for happy hour, walking and connecting at the end of a long day, me working on a house project, Sean travel planning on the computer, or watching House of Cards together, or… well, anything. It was our time.
Now the time we get alone together is often right before bed. And we know that the sooner we fall asleep, the better for everybody. But that means that, once in awhile, I feel disconnected from S. I know he’s there, and I know we’re co-parenting, and I know we’re talking, and I still miss him. Have we really sat down to talk about how our lives are going and ask how we’re feeling and moving through it…? That takes more time. And without the obvious non-baby related things we used to do together, it’s tough.
We’re lucky to have family and friends nearby who watch W when we go out for a movie, or a U2 concert, or a Saturday fundraising gala. I cherish these times in a new way… because they are fewer and far between.
I’m really proud of our new lives as parents and partners. I know it will only change and morph as time goes on, but I feel ready to ride those waves with S by my side.