When philosophy is the same, but execution is different

Marriage is complicated, and kids are a lot of work, so when you are dealing with both concurrently, it’s natural for issues to arise, right?  Right.  There is an interesting dynamic going on in our household, bordering on dichotomy.  I come from parents who divorced early and so my ideas about motherhood are rooted in single motherhood.  Hell, my ideas about LIFE are rooted in the idea that I can do anything and everything without help!  I am woman, I am independent, etc.  Perhaps you can imagine how this creates a predicament in a home where there are two parents who are (mostly) happily married.  Pregnancy prepared me somewhat – I had to admit that I couldn’t do everything by myself, or at least that it would be completely unreasonable to operate in that manner.  I let down my guard, I opened up, and I let Joe take his share of responsibility.  Incidentally, this brought us closer.  It was pretty great!  We were a team, and this carried us through birth swimmingly.

But when Jack was born, the household dynamic reverted back slightly to the way it was pre-baby.  I think partly because in times of stress, I over-organize.  Mostly that’s a good thing because it means that the household keeps functioning no matter what craziness ensues.  But parenting is stressful, and it has not been an easy transition for a multitude of reasons.  So here I am over-organizing and making sure I’m armed with piles of information for any situation, except that in parenthood there is often no instruction, no information, or no time to acquire it.  Joe is most certainly NOT an information-collector, and his experience with children is limited.  He did not read a single book while I was pregnant, and has not read a single parenting book since Jack has been born.  He is the spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kinda guy.  I admire that, as it means he is more adaptable than I am, but it also scares me because disorder is so against my nature.  And with nearly two years of sleep deprivation under my belt, and the balancing act of being a working mom who breastfeeds, I am off my game with the info-collecting.  I am trying, but failing, and no one is picking up my slack.  Not only that, but I’m not a great communicator in any manner other than through the written word, and it’s not just books that Joe doesn’t read.

I’m not getting to my point very elegantly (so much for communicating well in writing), but here it is: I tend to make most of the decisions regarding Jack and Joe carries them out because he is home with Jack more than I am.  Except when he doesn’t carry them out.

The most simple example has to do with food, which happens to be quite the challenge in our home.  Neither of us is very good at feeding ourselves or understanding nutrition.  I’ve done my best to learn, and for a while I was doing just fine.  That’s what’s so great about breastfeeding – you don’t have to think about amounts; the baby will eat what he needs to eat in most cases, and there is not the worry of overfeeding and obesity as there is with formula and bottle feeding.  Jack took quite some time to catch onto solids, and daycare has been helpful in the transition, so we haven’t had to worry too much.  But now Jack is really loving the solids and we are unprepared.  I at least manage to get Jack to eat.  Joe, on the other hand, hasn’t switched his mindset to focus on solids.  This presents a problem when Jack refuses milk like he has been doing while at home with Joe over the last week.  Monday and Thursday Jack drank about 2 ounces of milk and had maybe 200 calories of other foods.  Then I get home, nurse him, feed him some dinner, and nurse him to sleep.  Then he proceeds to nurse.all.night because he didn’t fill up during the day.  And let’s just say that a cranky, sleep-deprived Ewokmama is not a mama you want to be around; neither is a cranky, sleep-deprived Jack, for that matter.

So the crux of the matter is this: Joe and I have very similar parenting philosophies, which is great, but we haven’t learned how to effectively work together to make sure we are both informed and sharing responsibility for Jack (in many areas other than nutrition) in order to make effective decisions.  Because I’m the breastfeeder in the family, I’ve been making the decisions about food for most of Jack’s life.  Obviously, that has to change but how, when I’m finding books to be lacking and Joe is doing no research at all?  (How does one wing it with nutrition while also attempting to be healthy?)  My tendency is to do all the research and call all the shots, but hey!  I’m a sleep-deprived mama with SEVERE mommy brain – I simply can’t do it anymore.  The information center in my brain is fried.

I’m seeking input.  I want to know how other parents out there are doing it!  How does your household make decisions?  What happens when one person is not great at a particular aspect of parenting (or anything really)?  Does that automatically mean the other person has to do that duty all the time, even when it becomes onerous?  What happens when you are both failing at something?  And how do you keep supporting your partner after a mistake, especially when you would have fired them if they were your employee?

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Comments

  1. I have nothing …. Scout assumes I’m always right … but then I have degrees and textbooks….

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head so much about the breastfeeder being the one in charge of food, even when nursing falls to the background. While I can see why it happens, I don’t think it’s fair.

    I was lucky in that our pediatrician gave us a great handout about starting solids – how much, what, and when and how often, etc. It got us going on the right track. I asked for an updated one at her 12 month appointment, seeing that she was transitioning then to all table food – they had nothing. So frustrating.

    i think pretty much around here, the husband is following my lead on all things kid related. He also isn’t a reader, he has chosen to let me do research. We make decisions together based on facts I find out. While it feels overwhelming at times to be the fact gatherer, it’s what is working. And in fairness, he is the fact gatherer on other parts of our life.

    (I’ve done the research on food by the way, so let me know if you want some help there…It’ll save you some time maybe?)

  3. George follows my lead on most of the major stuff because [a]I’m home more and [b]I research the hell out of everything.

    Some tips about food: I follow the 1-2 proteins/1-2 fruits or veggies/1 starch guideline for every meal, and let Andy snack on whatever throughout the day. So breakfast would be eggs with cheese and bell peppers with toast, or oatmeal with a banana & 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich. Lunch would be some sort of sandwich with some sort of fruit or veggie, dinner’s whatever we eat, usually a meat with a starch and veggies – last night was steak & mashed potatoes with broccoli and Andy ate more steak than I did (well, to be fair I wanted to eat more, but he snagged the last piece!).

    You don’t have to agonize over day-to-day nutrition with toddlers, look at amounts as a weekly thing instead of a daily thing. If he’s not giving hunger cues on his own – not all kids will slow down to eat unless you sit them down yourself – set eating times about 2 hours apart. Breakfast at 7, snack at 9, lunch at 11, nap at 12, snack at 2, snack at 4, dinner at 6, bed at 8. Or whatever. That’s loosely Andy’s schedule, one he sets for himself by getting unbearably cranky if I miss the time by more than 10 minutes. Seriously, the kid is like a freaking clock.

    At Jack’s age, he can eat most anything except nuts and crunchy veggies like raw carrots because they’re a choking hazard. Nut butter sandwiches are the easiest quick food ever, Andy eats 3 of them a day, and requests them more than that. String cheese is like toddler crack and cherry tomatoes are fun to watch them eat. Rice cakes with cream cheese, apple slices with cheddar cheese or peanut butter, and the ubiquitous goldfish cracker are other Gonzalez household faves. Soups and eggs are mealtime staples, fall is here and we’ll eat a LOT of squash in various forms until the spring. Butternut squash & apple soup, red pepper & tomato soup, carrot soup, etc. Grill some cheese sandwiches or make some egg salad sandwiches and you have an easy (seriously, soup is: boil stuff, cool it, puree it, heat it again), nutritious dinner.

    You say you don’t know much about nutrition, but I think you do. It’s not rocket science, and we’ve heard the refrain forever: whole grains, lots of fruits & vegetables, lean meats, avoid processed foods & processed sugars. Easy. Shop mostly from the perimeter of the grocery store and you’re on your way. Try to eat as many colorful foods as you can.

    I know that Joe doesn’t like a lot of veggies, so the book Deceptively Delicious might be a good one for your house. It’s a cookbook, written by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, all about “sneaking” extra nutrition into foods that kids (and picky adults) would eat normally. Things like adding molasses & bananas to pancake mix, shredded veggies into muffins, etc.

  4. If you have healthy foods in the house, and your husband is eating those healthy foods, he should be able to just give them to your son, too. You have mentioned he is walking and talking, so there is probably very little that he can’t eat. I am not as gung-ho on organic and healthy only, but if that is what is in the house, then it should be pretty easy.
    I came from a large family and I have 7 kids myself, so most of the time I am relaxed because I know the foods are not going to kill them. My son and my nephew are 7 weeks apart and my son eats a TON more than my nephew, who is a first child in very small families. It is a comfort thing, I think, they just haven’t seen it so they aren’t comfortable with things.
    I have from child one just mashed up the food on my plate and shared with my babies when they started reaching for my food. My kids are all healthy, and I have even grown one to adulthood!
    I would suggest you just tell your husband to feed your son. Make sure the pieces won’t choke him, but he should be able to eat most of the foods you guys eat. My son started eating even burritos before 10 months. (I figure if he eats poop, he can eat spicy foods, too)

    Good luck! I know it was hard for me to turn my trust over to my husband because he doesn’t do it my way, and my way is the only right way. But I just had to let him be the dad, and he does great, even if it isn’t the same as I do it. Sometimes I give him suggestions, but it is his child, too.

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