Partnership: A Solution for Perfectionism

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By Renee Bond

Kicky’s last round of immunizations happened on a day when Jeff was the one taking care of her. Before that, I had taken on that chore because Jeff does not like watching anyone get stuck with a needle. Even when it’s on a TV show, when everyone knows that nobody’s actually getting a shot, Jeff won’t look. So I thought that watching his baby girl get stuck and listening to her cry about it would be especially traumatizing.

And he probably was more upset about it than I am. He also got her to stop crying more quickly than I did, by inventing a game where he lunged with her toward a mirror, which actually got her to laugh. I never thought to play with her. I walked her, sang to her, fed her, and lots of other things, but didn’t think to play.

Since I tend to be a know-it-all, it gave me a bit of a jolt to hear that Jeff was able to comfort Kicky better than I was. After all, I am her mother. Shouldn’t there be some special connection that makes her feel happy in my presence? But at the same time, I was really happy that Kicky and Jeff were able to turn what could have been a horrible experience into a fun time.

I think it’s been really good for me that Jeff and I are trading off as Kicky’s main caregiver. With my perfectionism, I’ve always been a stickler about how things are done, and Jeff’s had to put up with a lot of “suggestions” that he probably doesn’t really need.

But with Jeff spending as much time with Kicky as I do, he’s discovering how best to care for her right along with me. Last night he gave me pointers on how she likes to be held when she’s being rocked to sleep. (She likes to look at you until she’s sleepy, then she wants to rest her head on your shoulder.) I love that he knows that. Rocking her when she was squirming all around was frustrating, and his tips made things so much better.

So, as long as I don’t let my need to be “the best” get in the way, I find myself learning a lot from Jeff. He doesn’t do things the way I would, but that just means we’re twice as likely to hit on a solution that Kicky approves of. And with as picky as that girl has gotten lately, we need all the help we can get.

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