Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Balancing parenting

I feel like there's a lot to say here, so I'll start with the thing at hand. Expect a series of posts on the struggles to co-parent rather than boss the other parent around because "I'm the mom!"

I've requested, and the spouse agreed to, the spouse get an annual physical early along with the kid's 5 year old check up.  Since she had all her pre-kindergarden shots last year, there's not a huge rush for her to be there the moment she turns 5, so I suggested that both these appointments be scheduled for when my MIL will be here to help manage Little Monster.  Since it takes 6-8 weeks to see a doctor (!!!) I've been suggesting that these appointments be scheduled for about a month now.

At first, the conversation went: "Can you schedule your physical early this year?" "Sure. When were you thinking?" "How about when your mom is here? You could take the kid for hers too." "OK. Do you care which doctor we see?" "A breathing one, preferably female." "OK. I'll call tomorrow and schedule them."

In a week or two, I inquired again and "I'll get to it tomorrow" came up.  In 3-5 days, I asked again (and yes, I did put reminders into my calendar so as not to nag immediately). Still no appointments.

Now we're getting to not so many weeks from the end of March and the ideal time for these visits.  I decided it isn't my thing to call and schedule because A) one appointment isn't mine to make and B) nobody asked me to.

The caveat to this is that the spouse isn't working every or even most days lately due to job reassignment, and is finishing at about 3:30pm at the latest, so it isn't like there's "no time" to call like might be the case other times.

In one of these conversations, I pointed out that if the spouse prefers, they could both go see our old doctor, because really, it's more important that they see SOMEONE than that it's someone here close by.  There was nodding, and "yes, I'll get to it."

It's a really hard thing to co-parent rather than strictly "mothering" as it's traditionally defined. For me, I really like to pretend I control things and a lot of my control is to first ask someone to do something, and when it either goes unfinished or isn't done EXACTLY my way. The challenge is of course to AVOID doing exactly this. Health-related things are a favorite thing for me to control.

The first time I remember it hurting my heart to let the spouse be equally in charge of the kid it was at a doctor's appointment. As a 9 month old, she developed a cough and coughed for about 6 weeks. We got fed up with the coughing without any nasal symptoms or other apparent causes, so we took her to the doctor. No ear infections, no strep, so just to be sure, she needed a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia or a scary fungal infection (which we knew to be a risk based on where we lived). We were both sitting in the x-ray waiting area with a fussy baby who'd recently been nursed and the tech comes to get her, and the spouse stands up with her and then they walked off to have the x-ray. My first reaction was to reach out and nab her back, to go with her myself.

When I caught that first reaction, I knew it was time to let it go. If we're going to co-parent, I cannot always be the boss. I have to accept that sometimes my way isn't the best way, or any better than the spouse's way. When something isn't my responsibility, I can't take back responsibility for it. I just can't.

So now I am struggling. I am struggling to the point where I'm writing this post, knowing the spouse reads my blog, as an extra little prod because I'm getting fed up with waiting for that appointment to show up in our joint calendar. I worry. I just want it done. I could offer to do it, but it isn't my job, and if we're sharing our parenting jobs, I need to take that seriously.



  1. LOL. Okay, I shouldn't laugh, but I feel like I'm laughing WITH you somehow, because OH how I get this. It is SO HARD to co-parent and not just do it yourself b/c you can do it right and do it right NOW. This post needs to be bookmarked for me to come back and refer to. Constantly.

    1. Oh, it's worth laughing at because it's such a really lame thing to be so frustrated about. Laughing is the best reaction, and I do it too (laughing at me and my frustration with silly things). One thing I've learned is about care giving versus care taking. If I'm a bad partner, I take all the responsibility for myself and don't let the spouse do anything without me being the boss. If I'm doing it right, I give care freely and am helpful and supportive rather than controlling. BUT IT'S SO HARD.

  2. I worry about this happening with us. My husband is very absent-minded, so I long ago developed the habit of just doing things myself. I'm having a hard time with that on bed rest, but I'm doing my best to adopt a different attitude.

  3. Did he make the damn appointment?

    Co parenting. It seems like a normal idea you both parent but reality is really, the mum tends to do a bit more. I could never ever rely on Chippie to make a doctors appointment for Molly. Ever.

    I think I am a shit co parent.

    1. I'm still waiting (hint to spouse reading this) but I am going to make them next Tuesday if it isn't already done. I feel like whether you want to co-parent or whether you decide to split things differently is an important and individual relationship choice to make, and it isn't necessarily bad to not choose the split. It's just, I think, a good thing to discuss that a choice is being made to do things one way or another.

  4. Hi! Your comment on my blog got lost to cyberspace, but I wanted to thank you for popping by :)

    1. That comment-destroying mobile device! I'll be back and will comment again, if I have any idea what I said...