After Year One of Parenting, Creating A Re-United Front

Here’s the deal: I hit the husband jackpot when I got married. I know this is a super obnoxious and eye-rolling inducing thing to say, but it’s true. His mother, twin sister, and I all agree that he’s our real life Randall from “This is Us”. He has the same laser sharp focus on the needs of his family and methodically works to fulfill them. He’s a one-man pit crew in our house, keeping the whole shebang running.

I’ve heard this theory that in every relationship, one person is a “reacher” and the other is a “settler”. Sometimes I look at his luxurious Brazilian curls and perfect brown skin and think “damn it I’m the reacher!” I mean I’m cool with it. I bring good stuff to the table, even if his hair is way better than mine.

We met in graduate school. One of a handful of the classes we had together was a course on negotiation. We were paired up against another student and when we discussed our strategy, I wrote “united front” on a piece of paper. This turned out to be one of the most romantic moments of all time because I got to tell that story when I vowed to him “a united front” at our wedding.

I’m a super romantic reacher.

We had talked a lot about becoming parents long before our son was born. Everything from raising a child within the context of organized religion to not feeding him puffs because they have zero nutritional value. For the record, the former still fluctuates from time to time and the latter, well, our child basically lived on puffs for a while. It turns out that a lot of our talk about parenting before actually becoming parents turned out to be just that.

What we had not talked about was how having a baby would impact us individually. And subsequently, how it would impact our partnership. On maternity leave when people would ask me how things were going, I often responded with “the baby is the easy part; the grown-ups are the bigger challenge.”

Example: I called him one afternoon as he was on his way into the Capitol to meet with a legislator. I was crying. A lot. “I am here every single day taking care of our baby and becoming increasingly obsolete in my career that I love. Meanwhile, you go to work every day and do not have to pay a price professionally for becoming a parent. I have nothing to show for taking care of him! It’s not like he can conduct a performance evaluation!”

You get the idea. Legitimate thoughts and feelings? Absolutely. Pretty common concerns about your career when becoming a mom? Duh. Important to communicate this to my partner in crime? Without a doubt. In the middle of the day as he’s on his way into a meeting, while I’m sleep-deprived, hormonal, and alone with a newborn for too many hours? Ya know, maybe not.

He listened. He agreed with the struggle. He was compassionate and patient. He then asked nicely if we could continue the conversation later because he was now late for his meeting.

When I was pregnant, I wrote him a letter entitled “United Front, Chapter Two.” I told him that as we prepared to become parents, I wanted us to remember that our partnership existed before the baby. I wrote that “our gaze will shift from inwards at you and me to outwards at this human we made. But, I do not want us to lose sight of us.”

I can honestly and very humbly say that in this first year of being parents, it turned out to be pretty impossible to not lose sight of us. Like so many parents who have gone before, our kid stole our hearts and minds in a way that no amount of talk beforehand could have even begun to prepare us for. We learned that becoming a mom and becoming a dad is kind of a big deal.

As we reflect on year one, the united front is coming back into view. The new baby fog has lifted and we are able to see us again. We definitely look a little different, but there is even more happiness than before and a new, deeper kind of strength. Plus, his hair is still amazing and I try not to call him crying as much.

I have always believed that your kid’s first birthday is not about your kid. It’s about parents keeping their tiny human alive. Actually, keeping everything in the household alive: dogs, cats, adults, child(ren), plants, whatever. Keeping the domestic unit intact after the birth of a child is a monumental feat of epic proportions. I always told friends to celebrate this massive accomplishment more than anything else. The kid will get their birthday glory for the rest of their lives. Our celebrating included frigid winter hiking, delicious old old-fashioneds, undisturbed – and still warm – meals, and most importantly, uninterrupted conversation.

Here’s a fun fact: our son was born on our dating anniversary. Of all the predictions from our family and friends of his birth date, I was hoping for one of the latest dates because it was our anniversary. His due date was January 25th and I wanted February 4th. Lo and behold, that is when he made his entrance into the world – six years after our first date. So, I’m either a masochist for even entertaining the thought that he be 10 days overdue, or as previously stated, a really romantic reacher.

Either way, this will be really handy. The birth of our kid will always coincide with the beginning of us. And one should be celebrated just as much as the other.

Written by Blooma Mama Ann