The other day, my son dropped his apple core off his tray and it bounced once before hitting the floor. My husband scooped it up, rinsed it under the sink and handed it back to him.
I cringed. "What are you doing?" I heard myself saying, even though I knew I should just keep my mouth shut.
My husband raised his eyebrows in disdain.
I couldn't help it. I kept talking. "You can't give him something that dropped on the floor. We have a dog!"
My husband looked at me, irritated. "Seriously? He's fine. Relax."
Ugh. I'd done it again. My husband made a decision concerning our son, and I immediately contradicted it. This could have become an argument, as it often does. My husband makes a choice that I don't agree with, I criticize him, he gets offended and off we go.
My husband is awesome with our son. He makes him laugh, plays with him, feeds him dinner and gives him tons of hugs and kisses. He makes mistakes, sometimes, yes. So do I. But I'm the one who is home with the baby. I know our daily schedule, I can anticipate his needs and I know what happens when things are not done the way I do them.
My husband does things differently. He solves problems differently; he manages our son differently. And I find myself criticizing as soon as I see him make a decision that's not exactly the same one I'd make. Why do I criticize? Because horrible things can happen!
What horrible things happen, you ask?
But in the moment, when my son balks in his little voice at the change in routine, I want to fix it right away. As much as I try to control myself, I find critical words pouring out of my mouth, lecturing my husband and telling him exactly what he should do. Sometimes, my husband does it the way I tell him to. Other times, he walks out of the room and tells me I should just do it myself. Sometimes, we argue because he doesn't want to be lectured. Sometimes, he smiles and placates me.
Don't get me wrong; I make mistakes too, of course. That's how I learned. The difference is, when I make a decision or try out a new technique, my husband doesn't criticize. He trusts me. So why don't I give him the same respect?
Maybe I'm a control freak. Maybe I'm a perfectionist. Maybe I just want my son to be comfortable and happy and I know how to get him there. But this little boy has two parents. Sometimes we'll both be there with him, but other times I'll be alone with him and sometimes it will just be my husband. And the baby needs to be flexible and adaptable. I know all this, rationally. But in the moment, all that thinking goes out the window and I only see the faster, easier way to get things done.
I'm not proud of it, but right now, this is my biggest parenting obstacle; trusting and respecting my husband's choices. I'm so thankful I married a man who puts up with my idiosyncrasies and lets me grow as a parent without making me feel like I'm frustrating or obnoxious. He's understanding, sweet and patient. And that's why I should trust him. He's a wonderful husband. He'll be just as good at being a father.
Sarahlynne is a Shine Parenting Guru and is working on a novel for young adults.