Discussions about whether children are wanted, how many children are wanted, and parenting philosophies should be decided before the stress of parenthood actually sets in.
Some of our discussions during our dating relationship were ridiculous. I vividly remember sitting outside my parents house having a heated fight with Thatboy about the age when our future children would be allowed to play with fireworks. It degenerated into the absurd when Thatboy argued that even infants should be allowed to hold sparklers. And when I stormed into the house and confided in my mother about our latest tiff, she merely looked at me incredulously and told me it was a little premature to be getting so worked up about this. And she was right. Fast forward over 10 years and this was a man who wouldn't let his son sit for months without pillows around him.
Others of our discussions were vital to the continuation of our relationship. When I knew I was serious about Thatboy, I spoke with him about my dealbreaker - raising my future children in the Jewish faith. And he was only too happy to agree, even though it meant a major falling out with his family. It was our first decision that had us working as a team, against outside forces.
And really, that's what this post is about. Because parenting is not a one person job. I credit my ability to function as a parent to the fact that Thatboy is a tremendous partner. It's more than being a good father, we are able to work together and allow each other to do so.
In the beginning this meant support for many of my decisions. There was never discussion about breastfeeding - I wanted to do it, and Thatboy supported it. Attending breastfeeding classes with me so he could be as knowledgeable. And those fantastic classes helped teach him ways on which he could help out during those early days. A role he took very seriously. He even supported my decision as to when and how to wean.
He supported my decisions about how I wanted to labor, the use of medications, and he fought against medical interventions which he felt would lead me closer to an unwanted C-section. He supported my decision to not allow anyone in the delivery room, or even the delivery floor, having our parents wait to meet Thatbaby until we were up on the maternity wing.
When we got home, Thatboy and I became a parenting team. I was in charge of feeding the baby, and he took care of everything else - feeding us, keeping the house in order, diaper changes, the works. When he went back to work, he had a baby in arms as soon as he came through the door. Conversely, I allowed him to parent in his way. I didn't insist on doing everything myself. I didn't stress out if his way of doing something was different than mine. If I left the house, I knew I would come home to a living child - he would work things out. I supported him as a father the way he supported me as a mother.
And as Thatbaby has grown, we find ourselves working as a team more and more. We are a united front - both to outside parties who may not share our parenting philosophies (like TBIL and TSIL who insist that children don't need nap or bedtimes) and against Thatbaby. One of the tenants my parents passed down to me was that even when they didn't agree with the other's decision, they upheld it in front of us kids. We're already doing that with Thatbaby. In some ways Thatboy is stricter than I, in other ways I'm stricter than he. We both have "rules" the other one doesn't agree with, but we both uphold the other's rules. And we discuss in private our thoughts on them.
Working together really solidifies us as parents. It makes things so much easier. And I know it's going to make Thatbaby a happier, healthier child.