Over the last four and a half months I have noticed some differences in how Mommy and Daddy deal with Baby. I know it happens in every family, which is why by the time the kids are teenagers they have mastered the art of who to ask when they want something specific. My sisters and I definitely had that figured out. If we wanted to buy something we asked Mom. If it had to do with having friends over, we asked Dad. Not sure how it works out in every family, but there are always things Dad will be quicker to agree to than Mom and vice versa.
In our situation, we don’t have to worry about that quite yet. But there are some noticeable differences in how Husband and I handle Little Miss. For instance…
When I was on leave, every morning as Little Miss played on the changing table, I’d paw through her dresser, searching for the perfect outfit. I’d contemplate what we were doing that day – who we’d see, where we’d go – and determine whether she needed something cool, something warm, something especially adorable, something comfy, layers, etc. Then I’d pull something out, try it on her, and usually leave it on, though occasionally it a) wouldn’t fit properly or b) wouldn’t look quite right.
I guess I figured if I go through that process with myself, why not with my baby, who is the one everyone looks at anyway?
Then there’s Husband.
Though he’s done an impressive job of getting her in matching outfits, his process for selecting her clothes goes something like this:
- Is it on top of the pile of clothes in this drawer? If yes, then
- Is it warm enough? If yes, then
- Does it match this other part of the outfit enough that Becky won’t complain? If yes, then
- Dress Little Miss.
Upon reflection, I guess it’s really not that different from the way I approach dressing her; we both come at it as we do when dressing ourselves.
Then there’s what happens when she’s fussy.
I don’t mind letting her fuss for a little bit, because she doesn’t need to be under the impression that Mommy and Daddy jump whenever she utters a sound. We have other things to attend to in addition to taking care of her. But if she starts screaming and crying after a few minutes of fussing, I’ll generally go see what her problem is. Usually she’s either a) wet/poopy, b) tired, or c) bored. Easy fixes, usually.
Then there’s Husband.
If Little Miss is fussing, he ignores her. If she starts whining, he ignores her (so long as he knows everything is okay). If she cries, he ignores her. If she screams, he ignores her.
Okay, I’m being a bit harsh. It sounds like he pays absolutely no attention to her, and that is a FAR CRY from the truth. He just knows she’s a) not in pain, b) not in danger, and c) just wanting attention that doesn’t need to be given immediately. He is much more tolerant of her being upset than I am. When she gets really worked up I can’t sit there and ignore it. There is a physical pull inside of me that forces me to go get her. And it actually hurts if I squelch it.
I guess that’s just the difference between being a mom and being a dad.
Interpreting Little Miss’ cries is also something we disagree on often. And I can’t even claim to be an all-knowing mommy and say I’m usually (if not always) right. Because it’s about 50/50.
I’m constantly saying that she’s probably too warm. Even when it was 20 degrees outside, she was crying and my guess was that she was too warm. Husband frowned and argued with me that she couldn’t possibly be too warm; it was freezing outside and she was bundled up as much as we were. And she’s a baby! In that instance, I was right. I took off her hat and unzipped her snowsuit a bit and she stopped crying immediately. The back of her neck was hot.
Then there are the times I completely (for some reason) ignore the idea of changing her. I’ll walk her, rock her, shh her, give her a pacifier, bounce her, swing her, cuddle her, lay her down, pick her up, try feeding her, make sure nothing’s hurting her, and then get frustrated because she’s still crying. Then Husband will ask, simply, “Have you checked her diaper?” Feeling stupid, I do a quick check and – what do you know!? – wet. With a clean diaper she was cooing and playing happily again in no time.
While the differences can be amusing at times (why didn’t I, the mom, ever think to check her diaper?!?), sometimes it’s worrisome, as well. What will happen as Little Miss gets older? Husband and I will have to coordinate much more how we react to her, answer her requests, and treat her. Consistency is key, and not just being consistent with ourselves. We have to be consistent with each other, as well. And that can be difficult even for two people who are the most alike.
Discipline as Little Miss grows and learns will be tough. Especially since Husband and I grew up in very different homes. We both got spankings as kids, but I was grounded a lot, and I don’t know that he ever was. He was generally quiet and I was generally loud and obnoxious. We were different people growing up, just as we are different as adults. True, we make a good pair, but that’s because we complement and complete each other. Which means we are different puzzle pieces that happen to fit together.
But that also means that we’re learning a lot more than we would if just one of us were doing this whole parenting thing, because we learn different things and share with each other. And Little Miss makes a beautiful third piece to this puzzle that is our family.