I've been trying to put the "co-" in front of parenting for the last 2.5 years. I often wonder if my choosing to stay home and relinquish my status as a financially contributing member of the family sent the notion of co-parenting into total exile.
We could all list the reasons for what I've come to call "the great divide." Perhaps it's the importance of a job as it pertains to societal status. Or the lack of respect that mothering garners these days. Or maybe, just maybe it's this "mother knows best" idea that we continue to perpetuate.
And so I have to ask myself, do I really want the "co" part of parenting? Or is there something inherently satisfying about "sole" parenting?
They call us when they cry. They cling to us when they are afraid. We know them best, we tell ourselves. THEY NEED US MOST. And without the "employee of the week you done good here's a raise and a nice dinner" award that many of our spouses might earn for their small or large achievements in "the office," it's how we pat ourselves on the back.
I AM THE BEST PARENT. YEAH!
But then what becomes of the other parent? Do we start to diminish their role? Do we roll our eyes at them with they suggest something pertaining to a parenting decision or want to try something a different way?
Is that really fair?
Chances are they feel just as insecure as anxious as we do, if not more, particularly when they're away a lot. The fear of being forgotten, or dismissed has to be horribly painful. But don't they love our kids just as much as we do?
Maybe they just need a chance.
Like when my husband told me that Q was hungry as she started screaming for her favorite CD in a rage that I had not seen in awhile.
"Maybe she needs a snack," he said.
"No," I replied, brushing him off. "She just ate lunch an hour ago."
Then I backpedaled as she devoured a full bag of crackers, chattering sweetly and fully returned to her former self.
Or when she cried hysterically as we dropped him off at the airport (for the last time), screaming for him out the back window.
"Maybe she needs a nap," he said to me.
"No. She had a nap," I replied, sighing loudly.
Then she slept the whole way home.
So, maybe he's still got his inadequacies, and in some ways, he's got a long way to go. But perhaps it's not that he doesn't want to co-parent, but that I'm holding onto that "co" pretty damn tightly these days.
Am I so seeped in my identity as a mother now that I can't fathom her father stepping in and knowing our daughter just as well?
Maybe it's time to let it go a little bit.
Because she's got enough love for both of us. And our love, while different, is way better for her when it's combined.
*Thanks to Mom-101 for providing a perspective from the "other side."