Through three months of 24 hour a day co-parenting, I watched an emotional balance scale on which my husband and I rode.
In the beginning, my side was heavily weighted. His rose high above.
Over time I became lighter–more patient, more kind, more content. Over time he became less patient and less kind. I was not always patient, mind you, and he was not always unkind, but a shift did occur.
Frustration got the best of me at times. How can you be so short with the kids when you’ve been home with them for just a few weeks and I’ve been doing this for years?! It’s not fair! Not to me. Not to them. My expectations were high. Perhaps unreasonably so.
A co-worker tells me neither he nor his wife could be stay-at-home parents of their two-year-old son. I think, Why couldn’t you?
A friend tells me I am the strongest person she knows. I think, If she’s referring to parenting strength, she obviously hasn’t heard of Michelle Duggar.
What I realize is that everyone has different melting points.
I have a high melting point when it comes to breastfeeding through excruciating pain caused by tongue tie. (Three and a half weeks between two babies. Like fucking razor blades on my nipples, people.)
But I have a low melting point when it comes to satisfaction with stay-at-home motherhood.
It’s not that my husband intended to short-change me. It’s not that he hasn’t parented to the best of his ability.
It’s that we have different melting points.
And not just when it comes to parenting. Physical labor, tedious tasks, essay writing, friendships or lack thereof, housecleaning, dog walking, grocery shopping. Everything.
As a doula, part of my job is to trust the mother. Trust that she knows what is best for her and her baby. Trust that she’ll tell me the truth. Trust that the choices she makes will take her where she needs to go.
If we apply this attitude to others, if we trust that when they show their melting point it is real, not laziness, not disrespect, not a desire to be anything less than their best, but rather their own unique self doing all they can to navigate the world, then we can empathize. Then we can be patient. Then we can be kind.