Many years ago when our friends’ almost 9-year-old daughter was a baby, Jose and I babysat one night while they went to a movie. As they walked out the door, I remember feeling a bit stumped. What was I supposed to do with this baby? How did one entertain a baby?
Jose laughed and took over. He was a natural. But later, when it was time for dinner and diaper changing and bed, the tables turned and I was the one feeling confident about what needed to happen.
I decided way back then, 18 months before we got married and 4.5 years before Emma came along, that we made a good team when it came to babies.
I was thinking about this again on Tuesday after we both dealt with Emma’s first stomach bug, which began at 1:30 a.m. with a vomit-covered 3-year-old at Jose’s side. After a 1:45 a.m. bath, some aggressive 2 a.m. carpet scrubbing, and several repeat occurrences of the upset stomach, Emma finally started feeling better around dinnertime. The bug was thankfully short-lived.
We made a pretty good team on Tuesday too.
There are some things that I do better. I’m the “default” parent. I know which clothes are clean and when the dance recital is. I’m more patient with bad behavior or poor listening, willing to simply be firm and wait a moment instead of getting frustrated. I’m better at calming Emma down when she’s been worked up.
But there are things that Jose does better than me. He’s really good at putting down the phone and just being in the moment with our kids. He doesn’t stress about an arbitrary schedule. He plays without getting bored and snuggles without getting distracted. He’s the “fun” parent.
My instinct is always to look at the things he does better than me and see those as my weaknesses. I should work on those areas, right? I should try to improve myself, I should try to be more fun.
But maybe that’s a backwards way of thinking. Maybe it makes a lot more sense to just know that each of us have different strengths and that together we form a whole.