I recently shared on Instagram how JP and I are both 100% in when it comes to parenting. Not 50/50, but instead both of us, 100% in. And I got a lot of questions about how. How we make it work. How I have a husband home watching four kids working full time, while I’m here in Panama sitting here writing this blog post.
And the answer is both super simple and equally hard.
Not what we wanted. But what we needed.
We both listened. To each other. Put our egos aside and then chose to show up, committed to giving each other what we needed, and doing the work.
But it wasn’t always that way.
So let me take you back a few years, or rather a decade….Read more: A new kind of partnership
“The dishwasher. That’s what I needed. For him to unload the dishwasher every morning before he leaves for work.“
over 10 years ago after Lillian was born. She asked me to come up with something tangible JP could do for me, every day, to help bridge the gap between us.
Without any real thought or the ability to come up with something better, I reactionally blurted out that I needed him to unload the dishwasher every morning before work. That it would be a symbol to me that I was “thought of”. Cared for. To this day, he still unloads the dishwasher every. single. morning.
At that time, sitting there in that therapist’s office, discussing dishwasher responsibilities, we were at one of our lowest points. We had just had our second baby, within our second year of marriage. We were drowning.
We were just babies. Babies having babies.
At the time, JP was busy building his career. Traveling. Entertaining. Working as hard as he could to build a secure life for us. While at home, I was busy proving that I was working even harder.
Quickly becoming a martyr (and a very vocal one).
Doing it all, while always making sure to remind him constantly of where he was falling short. Each of us feeling underappreciated. Unseen.
Both feeling as though the other was failing, but silently feeling as though we were too.
It wasn’t working. Any of it.
We had only been married at that point for a few years, but we both knew that if we didn’t do something, quickly, we would end up another statistic.
After that evening at our therapist’s office we slowly (and I mean slowly, over years) began making changes.
We started scheduling in more date nights (at least one every other week).
We started taking trips alone together (even though we couldn’t really afford it). It started with just one night in a hotel in whatever city were living in at the time. And then as years went on, it grew to weekends away. And more recently full vacations together. Just us.
We changed the way we argued. Rather than listening to respond. We started listening to understand. Repeating back to the other person first “what I’m hearing you say is….”. And not moving on until we ensured the other person was fully heard.
I can remember when we first started this how time-consuming and exhausting our fights were. How in the moment, my ego could have cared less what he had to say. But the more I felt “understood”, the more I softened and was willing to equally “understand”. And our walls began to soften.
We started seeing each other differently.
But it’s taken years. And didn’t happen overnight.
After our fourth child, Frankie, was born 6 years ago things in our home felt really chaotic.
With four little kids, you have no choice other than to surrender. And it requires both partners to survive.
It was during those years that JP really started to become more active in our home. Putting the kids to bed every night. He started his tradition of making pancakes every Saturday morning so I could sleep. Helping me plan out dinners, and going over his work schedule on Sunday nights so we could adjust when he’d be around to help.
It felt like a real team. And it was working. But it was still 50/50. We weren’t both there 100%.
You could feel it in our home. Things felt stressful and fast-paced, and we could feel ourselves once again not on the same page.
What once “worked” felt like it no longer was. So we adjusted.
We had many hard conversations about our priorities. What we both needed. What we wanted our home life to FEEL like. What we wanted our marriage to FEEL like, and what it would require from each of us to make that happen.
And somewhere in that conversation, we agreed that we both had to be 100% all in when it came to our family and raising our kids. That things weren’t necessarily my responsibility, or his, but rather both of ours.
We agreed that mentally he would take over two of our kids, and that I would handle the other two. So things like scheduling school conferences, remembering dentists, scheduling haircuts, etc were no longer just on my plate. But on his too.
The mental load shifted from two shoulders to four. And it’s made all the difference.
I can’t say that things are always smooth with J and I when it comes to parenting, but it’s pretty great. The thing that keeps it working is that we’re constantly checking in and adjusting. Making time to go over our calendars and asking each other the simplest and basic question…
How can I help…?
And the bonus of all of this…
is not just that parenting is now so much easier, but that somewhere along the line, from that therapist’s office over a decade ago to now, JP has not only become an amazing partner but my favorite person to travel this life wife.
I just really, really like him. A lot.
And I think it has something to do with the fact that I feel seen and secure with him. Cared for. Thought of.
Which makes me feel secure to let my guard down. To be in the full expression of myself. To explore and challenge myself. To make room for things outside of our marriage or motherhood because he’s helped me make space. And in turn, I want to do the same for him.
Maybe it took learning to parent together in a new way. To learn how to support each other in a more selfless way that made our marriage deeper. That made me fall more in love with him. I don’t know.
Either way, I’m so grateful for this partnership we have and for being able to travel this life together.
….and J, if you’re reading this, thanks for finding all my typos and for just being you. I know I may not say it as often as I should, but thank you. I’m so glad my soul found yours. Always and forever. xo