The Struggle To Co-Parent Is Real | Anchors Aweigh


The Struggle To Co-Parent Is Real

I've mentioned on the blog before that coparenting was a struggle in the beginning for Parker and me. Good grief, it was the struggle of all struggles. Quite frankly, we were terrible at it. Something clicked around month six, and although we aren't perfect (who is?), we are finally a team and able to do this parenting thing together well. 

In the interest of oversharing, I thought I'd open up today about why we struggled so much with coparenting and how we learned from the experience. I have had a couple of people email me asking how we handled the struggle because they too were having a hard time. If people are being totally honest, I doubt there are many couples that don't struggle with coparenting to a degree. I mean, think about it. You take two people raised two different ways, give them a tiny human that they love more than life itself, throw in sleep deprivation, and you have... a recipe for disaster. 

Let's start with why I stunk at coparenting. Simply put, I was (am) fiercely protective of my son. My parents were very protective of me growing up, and I am that way with my child. I joked (but seriously) that I had a very short list of people I trusted with our baby, and sometimes Parker wasn't even on it. Basically, it was a piece of paper with my mom's name on it, because she really was the only one I gave him to and then didn't immediately feel anxious the second I stepped out of the room. Here's one small example that comes to mind of how I was in the beginning: I was told that infants are not allowed to have water, so when Parker washed the bottles, I made him carefully dry every last drop before filling it with milk. If there was even the tiniest drop of water in that bottle, I bit his head off. It's embarrassing to type now, but hey, it's how I reacted and I have to own that. In a nutshell, I needed to C H I L L. 

Now let's go to why Parker was less than stellar at the whole coparenting thing. Parker struggled with the loss of our freedom to do things as a couple. When you have a baby, you can't just go to dinner on a whim, and you typically don't leave the house much those first couple of months. The week our son was born, Parker reorganized the entire kitchen and filled our dining room table with kitchen supplies to donate to Goodwill. A.) That was my stuff. B.) He was going that stir crazy after a whopping three days of parenting. Parker very often talked about how hard it was not getting to go on date nights and how much he missed our old life. He hated being woken up in the middle of the night if I needed help breastfeeding (that's like a five person job in the beginning, no joke). He did whatever he could not to hold the baby because he hated when the baby cried and he didn't know why. Sometimes I would ask him to hold him so I could have a 5 minute break, and he would give the baby back 3 minutes later because he was done. In a nutshell, he needed to suck it up and realize he was a dad now. 

I say all that not to make my husband sound like a bad husband or father, because both couldn't be farther from the truth. Parker is the best husband and the best father to our son, but he struggled in the beginning just like I struggled in the beginning. We just happened to struggle in different ways. Around month 6, something clicked, and it has really been smooth sailing ever since. I chilled out, and Parker rolled up his sleeves and started to fall in love with this new stage of life. 

If you're struggling with coparenting, the best advice I can give is talk it out. We were very open with each other about how we thought the other one was acting, and while it may sound harsh, open communication is how we got through it. Bottling it up is never the answer. We talked it out, encouraged each other, gave the tough love when it was needed, and eventually we made it to the other side. 

Parenting is a team sport, and we are getting better every day. Nobody's perfect, but I am so thankful I have this guy to figure it all out with. 


Kenzie said...

Co-parenting can be so difficult! Especially if you have different ideas of how you want to go about things or raise the child. My husband and I had our struggles too. I definitely think that I struggled most though (he has two older boys and was a lot more comfortable and confident). Being able to talk to each other is so important ♥ Glad to hear things are smoothing out!

Jen said...

Co-parenting is definitely a challenge! Some of this sounds like Kyle and I but reversed in a sense. I am more relaxed when it comes to E whereas Kyle was more on edge as far as doing everything the exact way "they" say to. It was hard but around the 6 month mark we clicked as well and it has been amazing!

Melissa said...

Coparenting is 100% a challenge! Ryan and I struggled a LOT when Spencer was born to find our rhythm. I had postpartum depression, which made it worse, but we definitely had a few very rocky patches. I had a hard time connecting with Spencer, so Ryan wasn't sure he felt like he could trust me. Whereas, I needed to KNOW he trusted me so that I could dig myself back out of that whole. Regardless, the first time around is so, so hard. By baby number two, you guys have a rhythm, and it's good...

Now I have to figure out how to relinquish my control a little when Ryan gets back O.o

Bailey said...

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this post, Chelsea!!! I know social media can be deceiving, but I'm really thankful how honest you were in this post. One of the reasons I'm hesitant to have kids is because I don't think I would be "good enough" at it. Your post reminded me that *no one* is good enough. (Not that you're not a great mama, because you totally are!)


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