All’s Fair in Love and Parenthood

Bart and I are way too fair.

Those first few months with a newborn when we were both terrified of being left alone with him really scarred us. Sometimes one of us had to out. Like me to get my six-week postpartum check up or Bart to go to work. We felt awful leaving the other to have to care for this…baby. What if he cried? What if he needed something. We all saw Child’s Play. You. Never. Know.

Two years later, Bart and I are constantly policing our “away” time and figuring out ways to repay each other when we vacate the premises. This is not intentional. In fact, we didn’t even notice we were doing it until a friend pointed it out.

“You guys are so good at supporting each other,” she said. “You’re just so fair.”

Support? No. Scarred? Yes.

The thing is, we both really love spending time with Quinn now. He’s a little real, live person. He talks. He has a wicked sense of humor. He likes hanging out at cool places like bounce houses and Starbucks. I assure you he is not a burden. Which is probably why we feel guilty not being with him.

But yet, we still police our time away. And it’s not in a  passive aggressive-I-spend-more-time-with-our-child tug of war deal. We honestly don’t want the other parent to feel like their taking on more.

ME: Okay, so I went grocery shopping alone for what? 39 minutes? Do you want to maybe go for a run after work or something?

BART: Maybe. But then again, you walked him home from daycare on Tuesday and that took you 25 minutes. Technically I only have fourteen minutes.

Saturday mornings are my time to sleep in (which I never do because Quinn always ends up in our bed yelling MASHA BEAR at me while I pretend to sleep) and Sundays are Bart’s mornings to sleep in (which he never does because Quinn always ends up in our bed beating him with the remote control and yelling, PERCY FALL DOWN!) But for at least two hours every weekend morning, one parent removes the child from the household so the other parent can experience that very rare phenomenon: Being alone in your own home. It’s amazing. Even emptying the dishwasher alone is amazing. Despite our best intentions to encourage one another to the contrary, our family unit doesn’t separate that often.

So when we do it’s a big deal. A parent’s night out is a good thing. It’s healthy. It’s normal. It’s needed. But alas, we feel guilty. Case in point: Bart met up with some friends at a bar to watch the Seahawks game. Quinn and I had dinner a friend’s house which was lovely. When we returned, we saw this:

All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.
All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.

That’s Elmo, on a Cars throne, holding a croissant from Bakery Nouveau, sitting high above a gaggle of Thomas and Friends trains.

“Oh cool!” Quinn said, bellying up to the shrine.

Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin' alone time. I can't shake these two nut jobs!
Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin’ alone time. I can’t shake these two nut jobs!

So yeah, it’s a slippery slope from “co-parenting” to “co-dependancy.” Whatever.

Uh oh! Got to go. The eight minutes I earned today taking care of Quinn while Bart was in the shower are up.

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