When We Grow Up

When I set out to find a partner to share my life with, I never considered how this person might parent. Maybe if you’re sure you’d want kids, you might be thinking about whether a potential partner would also want kids. I wasn’t thinking about kids. I always had a “let’s see how it goes” attitude.

In the intervening years, I had glimpses of the kind of parent Tim would be. During any gathering where kids were present, at some point I would look around to find them draped on Tim. More than once, the arrangement was a kid around his shoulders and one clinging to each leg. People would look at me, eyebrow high, and lean in to say “he’s very good with kids.” I’d shrug my shoulders noncommittally and agree.

When kids seem bored, he knows to roll out the big paper with some old crayons and ask “who can draw a dinosaur?” He delights in reading stories with different voices and happily becomes my niece’s production assistant when she insists on putting on a play.

Last weekend, he impressed me again. When I had given up on the idea that our daughter might sleep that night, content for her to cry listlessly in her crib, he went into her room and emerged victorious with the blissful silence of a sleeping child. Somehow he had unlocked the three-tier mystery of how to make her sleep, the combination of head strokes and butt pats while murmuring reassurances that she would sleep and be happy and all would be right in the world.

With every stage of development, aspects of our interests and personalities will come to light—some favorably, some less so. We will ooh and ahh while plunging our hands into piles of soft yarn that we’ll knit into hats and socks. We will lock in a battle of wills over eating vegetables or brushing teeth. We will laugh gleefully while swinging higher than seems safe. We will say things we regret because our temper get a little hot. We will surprise ourselves and each other.

I’m curious. How has your view of your partner changed with parenting? What about how you see yourself?

Andrea Lee is a mom who’s winging it, just like everyone else. 

Tags: life, lifetime, parenting, partnership, marriage, relationship, development, the y, YMCA, together

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