I am the best mother ever! Just kidding. I have no idea what I’m doing. Neither does Adam. But we made these tiny miniature versions of ourselves and the hospital sent them home with us and never asked for them back! Now, we face the same challenges that all parents face except that our family is a little extra spicy with additional complication of our business. I’m gonna ramble about that a little here, but I’m not structuring this in the same way I have other post. To put it in business terms, we’re still in the “hustle” phase of parenting, which means we’re still working our tails off to figure it out. I’m not going to presume to offer any advice, just tell you a few things that DID work.

In the beginning, Adam completely deferred to my authority in all things child related. He had never really been around babies while I’d worked with kids all my life and I’d been a nurse in a pediatrician’s office for 2 years at that point. I was qualified and I felt pretty confident that I could handle anything a kid threw at me. It wasn’t the cake walk I expected it to be, but we managed. We agreed on certain methodologies, I told him what to do and we operated in that framework. Out of necessity I managed the feeding and sleeping schedules, doctor’s visits, potty training, school selection, etc. I executed the plan he stepped in when needed. We developed a pretty nice Good Cop/Bad Cop routine.

Adam traveled a good bit when the kids were really small and, because I was the primary caretaker, there were lots of times when he would come back from a trip and we’d all struggle to adjust and figure out where he fit in. Our son called him Adam most of the time instead of Daddy, because he heard me addressing him on the phone almost as much as he had the opportunity to address him face to face. Adam is a fantastic father, very active and attentive. Those were just the times we lived in. A lot of his parenting during the baby years was done via FaceTime.

I so miss those simpler times. Their needs were constantly changing but at least I got to dictate the routines and schedules. Now that they’ve aged out we’re hitting rockier waters and the tables have turned. Our rolls are reversing in some ways. Adam is much better at talking to them like little adults while I struggle to let go of some of the control. They’re still my babies! The problems are so different now but we have to loosen the reins so they can learn to handle things on their own. We have to evolve our parenting to meet their new needs and support them as best we can. Evidently, harping on every fashion choice that your 10 year old daughter makes isn’t supportive. Can’t we please just go back to me doing her hair up in bows as big as her head and dressing her like an American Girl doll?!

Do we always agree on each other’s parenting choices? Ummmmm, no. But, we’ve gotten pretty good at waiting until the right time to bring things up. We really try not to cut each other down in front of the kids. This is something we often do at the FBM, our safe space. “Let me confer with your OTHER PARENT about that before I make a decision” is a commonly used phrase in our household and a great stall tactic. It at least gives us the chance to agree on a course of action before stepping on each other’s toes.

I asked Adam what he’d want a business person or their spouse to take away from a conversation like this about parenting and he made the point that there have been times when I saw him falling into some bad habits, like yelling. I remember this incident and I just remember being nervous about how I should approached it. I certainly didn’t want to do it during a time when he was already yelling. Then he’d yell and me and then I’d yell back and then we’d have to change the kids’ 529s to therapy funds. Talking about parenting is so personal. It really hits us in the most sensitive and vulnerable of places. So much of our own identities and our own guilt and shame are tangled up with our kids.  “Well, I just don’t want her to struggle with this the way I did” (so you’re too hard on them) or “I just feel so badly about being gone all the time” (so you give them everything) or “When I was that age this happened and I don’t want him to make that mistake” (so you teach them to operate from a place of fear). I’m guilty of it too. When I brought it up I did it at a neutral place and time (the FBM) and I just asked him the same question I ask myself when I feel like I’m loosing my composure with them. “How do you want them to remember you when they’re adults?” 18 years. That’s all we get. He took that to heart and has had to turn it on me a few times too.

Listen, there’s no magic sweet spot, as far as I can tell. Some days my people are truly delightful children. Other days I wonder which Adam will have to bail out of jail first, them or me. Parenting has brought out the best and the worst in us, but I think that’s true of all parents no matter what the family dynamic is. Love them, listen to them, try not to project your own crap on them, and if you have a partner try to be each other’s allies. After all, those kids are only with you 18 years, but you have to live with your spouse FOR*EV*ERRR!!!

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