Parenting That Can’t Compare

Ryan and I got to talking the other night, like we usually do, on our favorite topic: I’m so tired. We started discussing (or self congratulating if you will) about how we support each other, working like a team, especially during a newborn phase. We take turns through night shifts with the baby, when one of us is exceptionally tired, the other seems to rouse strength and pick up the slack etc. I mentioned that I was glad we started some of these habits right from the get-go when we brought Evangeline home from the hospital.

Ryan went back to work less than a week after Evangeline was born. The first day he came home and said he was tired.  Immediately we started comparing, trying to prove that we were more tired than the other.

“I was up at 4 am, then had to work all day!”

“The baby screamed all day and I didn’t get a break!”

It quickly became clear that this sort of one-upping and comparing just couldn’t happen. There is no winner in the Who’s More Tired game, just two indignant, angry, tired people. It doesn’t matter who’s more tired, the baby still needs to be changed and dinner cooked. If we both worked at it together, neither one of us had to do more work than if we did it all alone. Over time, (when we got some more rest) we would periodically discuss why we were so tired. Having these calm, reflective type discussions, rather than a contest when we’re both at the height of exhaustion, went a long way in helping us relate to how the other spends their days.

I remember working. Waking up earlier than I wanted, interacting with people all day, being set in a schedule that couldn’t be broken if I needed a break or a snack. Ryan has to spend a lot of time and energy planning and preparing ahead of time. As a teacher, he has to spend all day being approachable. No closing an office door for some quite time. Even during his off periods, he needs to spend the time grading or doing his own studying for the classes he is taking.

I am up when the children are up. I get a break only if they let me. All day is an unbending ride from meal to nap to meal to nap. Someone is always demanding my attention (or deliberately trying to avoid it in order to cause mayhem) and my needs always come last.

Even a good day is exhausting.

So we’ve learned to shut down resentment quick, buck up and push through. I’m tired, but he’s tired too. And the baby still needs to be changed, dinner cooked and clothes washed and babies bathed and…and…and…


2 thoughts on “Parenting That Can’t Compare

  1. Any ideas please before I put my 5 year old up for sale (only joking, I’m keeping him really). He goes to bed fine between 7:30 to 8pm at night. He falls asleep straight away, and sleeps, but only until 5am at the latest. This moring it was 4:30am. It’s making me tired, and it’s stopping us doing as much as I would like. I’m too tired to do things with him at the weekend. Short of letting him go to bed later than me (not an option i’m actually considering), can anyone think of any suggestions to help him sleep a bit longer in the morning. This morning I told him it was too early to get up, but he said he was bored. If I just ignore him he shouts and cries so loud that next door can hear him, and I don’t think it’s fair to wake them up at 4:30 in the morning….. He is warm enough and his bed is comfortable as far as I know. Somemornings he says he is hungry, but he’s not a big eater, and I can’t seem to get any more food in him of an evening. I had hoped the early waking would stop when he started school in September, but no joy so far.

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