Editors Note: This is a four-part series of articles that examine the pressures a child places on your relationship and some of the things to try and remember, especially when times get tough.
There seems to be this misconception that having a baby brings you and your partner together, to the extent that some people mistakenly believe that having a child will save their relationship.
I can categorically say, it will not save your relationship, in fact, quite the opposite, having a baby has the potential to destroy relationships, even ones that seem rock solid. Adding a child into the mix will test you and your relationship in ways you could not have imagined.
The last instalment in this series is a short and sweet point: Never EVER let anyone, including him, call your child’s father a babysitter.
Someone you pay to look after your child is a babysitter. Someone who is not biologically responsible for the child’s presence on Earth, like a friend or family member, is a babysitter. Grandparents who have been responsible for raising their own children and are now enjoying their empty nest are babysitters. A dad is not a babysitter, he is a parent. When a dad ‘babysits’ it is more accurately described as just parenting – plain and simple. When anyone, even the father himself, calls his time spent parenting, babysitting, they devalue his role in raising his children – he is not a parent, he is a stand-in for the real deal, allowed only short periods of time alone with the kids.
So, now that that has been said. Let me sum what I have come to realise about relationships and kids.
Just to be clear, I would be lying (which would kind of go against everything I try to stand for) if I acted like my partner and I have gotten it right and are now this well-oiled machine that operates with precision and very little friction.
We still explode, we still act like martyrs in our relationship, we still forget we are allies, not enemies, we still let the side down, we still fail to have the other person’s back, we still say things that are nasty and hurtful and we still forget that we have an innocent and observant audience in our midst.
Just like the myth of the perfect mother or father, the perfect relationship does not exist. And ours is no exception. It is imperfect and messy and hard. So hard.
While perfection is unachievable, good is not, and as long as we keep trying to have each other’s backs and work towards the same goal: a happy healthy family who lives a life full of laughter, love and adventures, then we are on track to achieving a smidge above good and maybe even great.
And remember sometimes one of you must take a breath, just suck it up and do it even when you don’t want to because at that moment your partner wants to do it even less than you do. So give them a break.
When you give and take, their turn to take a breath, suck it up will come and give you a break, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
Leigh Tayler is a writer, a Leo, a feminist, a fan of The Walking Dead, a lover of all things unicorn and nearly succumbs to rage strokes on the daily. Oh, and she also happens to be a mother to one small feral child. She wears her heart on her sleeve and invariably tells it like it is, the good the bad and the ugly. She juggles her writing, her family, her sanity in-between a demanding career in advertising. She has no shame in sharing her harebrained and high-strung anecdotes on her experience of motherhood, no sugar coating, no gloss, just her blunt truth with a healthy side order of sarcasm. Find her on her blog, The Ugly Truth of Being a Mom.