Parenting and Relationships
Our relationship won’t change much after we have a baby….
An opinion piece by Jacqlin Richards, from 'Your Parent Journey'.
Once, pre-children, my husband and I were backpacking in Thailand and had just boarded a longtail boat. A young Thai man began confidently jumping across the timber boards carrying a baby. “Baby..! baby..!” he said, warning others that he was coming through, carrying a little one.
The baby's parents followed slowly behind the man, looking totally relaxed as a complete stranger jostled about carrying their offspring across dodgy wooden planks into a flimsy little boat!
I turned to my husband in awe and proclaimed “see - We won't change if we have kids! If they can do it, we can too!".
I had it all figured out. The baby would just fit in with us!
Let’s just say, I changed a bit when I became a mum. Essentially, if I’m completely honest, I turned into my mother! And my husband, into his father. Which was completely unconscious. We didn’t even notice that it had happened… until we were deep in the thick of reliving the past like some bad soap opera re-run!
I was totally unprepared for this unintentional, unavoidable fall into parent autopilot roles.
We had not discussed parent roles pre-baby. I mean who does?
We had only expected that I would look after baby during the weekdays, while my husband was at work, for however long I was on maternity leave - and we would share the practical tasks the other times.
However, as soon as I became a mum, I went into full-martyr-mode. I call it FMM. I did everything!
I was the one with the boobs so I was doing the majority of the feeding but my FMM meant that I was also doing EVERYTHING else. Getting up with baby every night… Changing nappies, cleaning ,feeding, dressing, bathing, getting to sleep, packing everything to go out, housework… etc. etc.. I was knackered! I was parenting as though i was a single mother, yet i wasn't!
This was not because my husband was lazy, or didn’t want to help raise our son. It was because i wouldn't let him! I had no idea what a mum and dad working together as parents actually looked like, because I had ever seen it - It just wasn't a part of my childhood!
I had developed baby tunnel vision. FMM meant I was 100% focused on and responsible for my baby, and no matter how much my husband tried to help, it drove me crazy. When I finally allowed him to actually BE a dad, I couldn’t fathom why he couldn’t do everything my way!!!
My way was the best way right?
Eventually, with a shedload of awareness, I made it out of the FMM hole. A parent coach helped me extract my mother’s parenting style and discover my own. I began looking after myself, and found my identity as a woman again. I let go enough so that my husband could be the dad he so desperately wanted to be, once I had stopped trying to control everything! The tunnel vision opened up to include him, and the difference it made was immense.
The moral of this story? Parenting is GOING to change you, your partner and your relationship. Prepare for it. Do the work to understand the way you were parented so you can bring awareness to the autopilot roles you may nose-dive into when you become a mum and a dad. That way, you can leave the past in the past and parent from a clear space in the present.
Jacqlin Richards is a parent mentor, Hypnobirthing, Embodied Counselling and Attunement Therapy practitioner. She is passionate about supporting men and women to enjoy being parents.
You can find out more about Jacqlins work here: https://www.yourparentjourney.com