As hard as you try, you can’t always be on the same page as the other parent in a two-parent household. You can be a great match, share the same values, same beliefs, but without meaning to, mistakenly make things more challenging for the other parent.
Take for instance the shoes my husband bought my girls recently. Brent knew the girls needed new shoes because I’d been asking him for weeks if we could buy some. So when he took them to Target the other day, asking before he left what size shoes they wore, I was happy to think that they would be coming home with new shoes for school.
But before he got home, he called me and said, “Now, I bought them some shoes, but you are going to need to get them some other shoes too. These are just for fun and they really wanted them so I got them”. “Okay” I said.
When the girls ran in from Target they had these high-heeled strappy espadrilles in their hands. They were definitely not even close to school shoes. They wanted to put them on immediately and of course they needed my help. I squeezed their feet into the sandals and fastened the buckles. They were so excited and ran off to play in them.
What I didn’t know then was that for weeks I would be struggling to help the kids get in and out of those shoes. I had no idea the countless arguments we would have over whether or not they could wear the shoes to school, the gym, or to play outside in.
Brent also thought it would be a good idea to give Olivia his iPod. He was long gone to work when she wanted me to help her find headphones to go with the iPod so she could hear her favorite new song over and over again. Because she is so little, she wasn’t sure how to work the device and has needed endless help finding that song on the iPod, adjusting the volume, and working it properly. There have also been arguments over her taking the iPod to school, wanting to bring it in the car, and getting her to put it away when I need her to focus on doing something else.
My laundry list of things my partner was doing to make my job as a parent more difficult was growing. The shoes and the iPod were at the top, next came the garbage.
Friday is garbage day. But this is a new house for us and there is a one-day difference in garbage day from this house and our old house. My husband has been working his tail off and leaving early for work almost every day. Couple the early departure time with the change in garbage days, I think he keeps forgetting.
The last time Brent forgot to take the garbage out, I ran outside in my pajamas as the garbage truck was headed up the street and scurried to put the cans on the curb before it got to our house. As I did it, I gashed my thumb open on the recycling bin. Instead of letting it go, I took a picture of my thumb and texted it to my husband thanking him for forgetting to take the cans out to the curb.
This week, when he forgot, I ran to the street to take the cans to the curb and got ants all over me from the garbage can. But this time, I didn’t text him any pictures of ants on me, I just went up stairs to take a shower. Progress me thinks.
But I am not an innocent party in all of this. I’m sure there are things I do to make my husband’s job more difficult as a parent too. I bet he didn’t completely understand my rationalization when I got mad at him for buying potato chips for the kids just days after I gave them a donut. I bet he has a laundry list too.
Luckily, in our home we are rarely get off the same page, but it happens. When we are at our best, and something comes up, we usually try to discuss it and understand each other’s point of view. Although we may disagree with the reasoning behind our decision-making process we pretty much always support one another, which is important for our kids to see.
When I was a little girl, I remember my parents buying me some strappy blue high-heeled sandals. I loved those shoes. They made me happy. Reflecting on those shoes made me wonder if my husband created an inconvenience for me or did he create a lasting memory for his little girls? Did he cause me unintentional strife with the iPod or did he allow his daughter an opportunity to explore music and give her something to sing along to her favorite song with?
On Saturday, Brent and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary a little early by renewing our vows at Rivertown Revival. There we stood at the altar with our four little girls jumping up and down, falling off the stage, and hogging the mic to sing us a song. It was comical, and as far as weddings go, full of cosmetic flaws.
Yet I stood there feeling the happiest I have ever felt. Despite the heat, despite the dust, despite the fact that he buys high-heeled espradrilles for two pleading daughters and gives iPods to girls who aren’t ready for them, my husband stood there dressed in the gettup that I made him wear on one of the hottest days we have had all summer. And I thought to myself, “it just doesn’t get any better than this” and I counted my lucky stars that night.