Meet your new co-founder: Daddy

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I was recently trying to explain to a friend what one of the biggest unforeseen challenges as a parent has been for me, and I finally figured out a way to pithily sum it up, and that way was this: “Imagine you and your spouse have been going along your merry way for years now, happily coexisting, when BAM! Somebody tells you that you now must run a company together. And that company is super duper important to you because it’s as important as Facebook, or, well, a child. And the thing is, you’ve never run anything together. You aren’t even sure your skill sets and approaches and perspectives on MANAGING THINGS even line up at ALL. And on top of that, you’re going to run this new company (i.e. child) together while you’re sleep-deprived, hormonal, and highly irritable. And the stakes are going to be higher than any stakes you’ve ever encountered, ever. GO!”

Okay, so obviously I’m exaggerating a little, and I feel the need to majorly preface this post by saying that I actually feel like Ethan and I have found a co-founder “groove” that’s working fairly well for us these days (he stresses about naps; I dominate the sippy cups), but I think he would agree that it’s not necessarily easy to get to a place where all of your perspectives and expectations and even just your general WAY OF DOING THINGS line up. It takes work (obvi). And I didn’t adequately anticipate that work before I had a kid (shocking).

If you think about your little family unit as an itty bitty start-up, and your kid is your employee, then you’ve gotta decide on all kinds of things like which rules you’re gonna enforce and how much to delegate and how much vacation time (i.e. Elmo video watching) your kid is gonna get. You have to decide if you care about having homecooked meals on the table and if you do, who’s cooking them? You have to merge your own philosophy on childrearing (which is probably less of an actual real philosophy and more of a “when I was a kid my mom let me eat ice cream in bed…” situation) with the philosophy of somebody who grew up with an entirely different perspective. But more important than any of that? Your actual, like, personalities. You know how your husband has always been this endearingly chill stoner who likes to spontaneously go surfing? Stoner dad either has to learn how to line up a babysitter, or strap Kiddo to the surf board. Or maybe your wife is totally Type A and likes to plan her days down to the last second. You might just have to help her off the ledge when Kiddo refuses to wear pants and you end up not going outside for forty-seven hours straight.

Does one of you hover over your kid (okay, that’s me), and the other thinks Kiddo needs to learn to be independent (that’s Ethan)? Does one of you firmly believe that if Kiddo doesn’t get the exact prescribed amount of hours of nighttime sleep plus nappage per day, he will grow up to feel you failed him? (I’m not naming names here, but it rhymes with “Snethan.”) I’m lucky – my husband is a super involved dad who takes our son’s nap schedule so seriously, he would probably refrain from peeing for 13 hours like that Filibuster lady if it mean Leo got a good rest. But I know it drives Ethan crazy sometimes that I’m an oblivious writer with a limited capacity to organize the shortie pajama drawer. Oh, well. My story-reading voices are epic. (Actually — so are his).

How do you and your partner collaborate as “co-founders”? Have you been surprised by how well (or not well) you work together? Which one of you is the nap dictator, and which one of you thanks God every minute of every day for Sesame Street? xox

18 thoughts on “Meet your new co-founder: Daddy

  1. Ooooo, the spicy topic that has caused a lot of drama around these here parts. I’d classify myself as an attachment-style parent, and my hubster is more of a Satan-style parent. I kid…sort of. There isn’t much by way of “collaboration” on anything. His parents disapprove of breastfeeding, cosleeping, gradual food introduction, consistent routines, holding/picking up a crying baby, and working things around a baby/child’s naptime. Hubster is torn between what they tell him to do, and fear of what limb I might rip off should he wake up a sleeping child. I tried to discuss issues and potential issues to get an idea on how we could form a united front, but it was very much like pulling teeth….with my bare hands……from a pit bull….that had been eaten by a shark. Since I do all the day, night, and overnight parenting, I pretty much “dictate” the whens and hows. Hubby and inlaws think I’m a freak, but I’ll let my freak flag fly cuz my kiddos won’t be cuddly little balls of fun cuteness for long 🙂

    1. Oooh, amazingly important point that I barely even TOUCHED on — what if you want to sleep train your kid, and husband doesn’t (or vice versa, or frog versa?)

      Once again, you totally crack me up… I love how the list of things your husband’s parents disapprove of literally includes… EVERYTHING!!! xox

      1. You WILL encounter situations like that, not if.

        Right now, my beloved spouse wants to home school all three of our children who are old enough for schooling and I DO NOT. It’s like the scariest, most epic battle ever waged in the history of human existence. She’s going to get her way because I am a nice person, and because I want to be able to tell her I told her so when she’s crying/pulling out her hair/deciding to send them back to school. Parenting is awesome.

        1. Wow, you win the prize. That’s epic. I mean… that’s also really hard because she is saying she’ll do all the work… but I have to say, I’m with you… I just could never imagine signing myself up for a task as big as that. More power to her. Kind of.. ?!?!

    2. LMAO at “Satan-style” parent. That’s what my MIL thinks we are, though she hasn’t discovered the term.

  2. Spot on. SPOT ON! Starting a family in our mid-to-late 30s means we are both a lot more relaxed about this child-rearing thing than either of us would’ve been in our late 20s. So, when it comes to sleep and food and such, we both go with the flow pretty well (thankfully). However, Sweets has a much shorter temper than I do … which means, I feel like his temper flares at inappropriate times … and he feels I’m letting G get away with bloody murder. (NOT TRUE, she says … I choose to talk through things with G when he is being a pill, rather than flare my big mean voice with a yelling spree that makes me red in the face.) We have both had to negotiate our differences, for sure. There are times when I just need to let Sweets get mad and let him do the parenting without my coming to save the day. And, Sweets agrees he could learn a thing or two (from me!!!) about cooling his temper more frequently.

    1. Weirdly, I think we’re less relaxed now than if we were in our twenties… perhaps b/c we’re more settled in our ways now? I don’t know, interesting to think about!! xox

  3. So much good in this post. The running-a-company metaphor is really insightful, I’d say. It works in two directions, as I see it: you’ve got to be the manager(s), and employees invariably grumble around the water cooler about what idiots management are. How to keep up morale at this company? Lots of work outings and office parties and happy hours, right?

    This struck me as hilariously accurate: “…when Kiddo refuses to wear pants and you end up not going outside for forty-seven hours straight.” A couple of days ago, we had a “yes” day, where anything the boy wanted we did. We finally ended up at the park, a squizillion hours after we settled on the idea, of course.

    Speaking of which, time to go boost office morale with some cookies and a field trip…..

      1. I lifted “yes” day from another mom blogger, so it’s fair game as far as I’m concerned. Today is a “no” day; it’s going poorly. But I’m under the weather, hungry, and sleep deprived. I could use a middle manager to mop up my mess today.

  4. This is great. What a good way to think about it. I’m probably the hard-liner when it comes to discipline, and Matt is more relaxed. Sometimes I freak out on him when I can hear him saying “this is the last warning … ” approximately 14 times from upstairs, but I’m learning to just stay out of it. There’s a T and a P, I tell myself. T and a P. xox

    1. This is so hard, isn’t it?! I think Ethan has less trouble telling me when he wouldn’t do something “that way” (he’s more comfortable with confrontation than I am!), but I find myself periodically wanting to say, “I just read in such-and-such parenting book that yelling doesn’t help” (or whatever), but then I feel like a major douche and try to hold my tongue!

  5. What a very well-articulated post on the partnership that parenting is. Totally understand you about two parents having to/wanting to/programmed to stress about certain things, different things. You mention sleep and right now, our 3-yr old is operating on 10 hrs of total sleep a day. Just a few weeks ago, when it was also the time he started using the potty, he needed 12-13 hrs of sleep. What gives? Anywho, I think my hubs and I are in a “groove” too. It’s fantastic…except that that groove is about to be majorly disrupted by a baby girl. We’re gonna love her to pieces but man, that groove, when do we get it back??? Luckily, on MOST things, we agree. Except the doctor. I kinda refuse to take J to the doctor unless absolutely necessarily. Not sure if it’s because I don’t want to take off work or because I am adverse to medication. That said, the last time I resisted, our son had a sinus infection + allergies and was miserable. Spiked a fever too for a few days. My bad. PS I used to stress about how much TV and iPhone time our boy got, but I don’t anymore (as much) because I’m either too tired to chase him around or play cars on the floor…or, I think screen time is fine. I had plenty growing up and I’m fine. Even finished college and all ;).

    1. You bring up so many of the issues we grapple with daily… overall, I think we both agree in moderation. Which is maybe a cop out but oh well! (And I am the one who wants to take my kid to the doctor constantly. It drives Ethan bonkers 🙂

  6. Rebecca, you have totally crystallized something I had never thought about this way before. I am lucky that Dave and I are on the same page with most things parenting, except that our boys would still be wearing onesies, every day, if he had his way. That said, we were not on the same page during a lot of infancy (him @ 3 am: let them cry; me: but it hurts my soul!). And I’m sure there will be many more times when a high-level negotiation will have to take place. We should totally tell people about to get married to think about whether they’d want to work with their future spouse, because that’s kind of what childrearing is like, except occasionally really fun work.

    1. Seriously!! I know, I didn’t realize it, either, before embarking on this parenting joyride — and I do think it’s good that Ethan and I seem to (mostly) agree on the big things… but we certainly have our difference of opinion. Overall, I’m more of a “yay, we survived, tomorrow is a new day!” type of parent, and Ethan is a “we messed up that, and that, and that” type. Ha. In some ways, though, that’s really good because our styles complement each other… but it can be hard in the moment.

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