Brett and I are all about the United Front of Parenting in that we back each other up on matters of Be Kind to Your Siblings, Put Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper and If Your Mom Said No, I’m Not Saying Yes. For major issues, our parenting philosophies are pretty similar, so we really don’t run into a whole lot of problems.
Unless you count bedtime.
I don’t know how he does it, but Brett can take the kids from an energy level of 10 to 1 gradually and effortlessly so that, without even realizing it’s happening, they’re in bed with their eyes half-closed before they’re all, “Wait—it’s bedtime?” A professional winder-downer he is—just a high lace collar and an apron away from Mary Poppins herself. (Remember Stay Awake? Stealthy little put-‘em-to-sleep-er, she was.)
Me? I get my best ideas for fun when my kids have just slid under the covers. Hey kids, want to build a fort? Hey kids, want to have a dance-off? Hey kids, want to jump on the bed and turn the music up as loud as it goes?
Take the other night. I offer to lay with Nella to give Lainey a chance to stay up later. It’s quiet and peaceful, and Nella looks at me with this precious twinkle in her eye that—yes—could be saying, “Goodnight, Mom,” but could also be translated as “one more fun, please,” the latter which, of course I’m going to hear because—duh, unicorn. So in the dark, we sing the newly memorized words to “All About That Base.” Which leads to newly choreographed dance moves on the “Shake it, shake it” and the “Boom Boom” parts. Which leads to Dad coming in to simmer it down.
“Seriously, you can’t just count sheep?” he says. “Don’t wind them up.”
That face? Wound up. You’re welcome.
It’s not that I think my way is right because it doesn’t take King Solomon to point out the most responsible routine here—it’s clearly Brett’s. But there’s something super fun (imagine bubble letters there) about slipping in a “Hey Life, You’re Amazing!” right where you didn’t expect it. It’s like the opposite of my old days of thinking a long boring sermon was about to finish when the pastor announced, “And now to Part II: Fearing God. If you’ll turn with me to Isaiah…” And being the opposite of that is a very good thing indeed.
I realized this morning though, that it’s good I’m a winder-upper and he’s a winder-downer. We need both. I’m the first one up with my coffee, and pulling Brett and Lainey out of bed can sometimes be a challenging task. You know what they need? A winder-upper, thank you. Someone to walk up in there, fling back the curtains and Shake it, Shake it with a Boom-Boom and a We’re Bringing Booty Baaaaaack! See—winding up has its perks. Brett, you take the high road and I’ll take the low road and together, we’ll get our kids from sunrise to sunset.
Parenting calls for all the things, all the gifts, all the personalities. Whatever your characteristics are, bring them, and they’ll be put to good use. Organized? You’ll need that. Laid back? You’ll need that too. A great sense of direction? Bring it. An appreciation of the joy of getting lost? Hell yes. Strict? Fantastic. Lenient? Awesome. It’s all good, it will all get used up, and where there are gaps, growth and compromise and leaning on each other will fill it all in.
The result? Cool kids who inhale calm and exhale a great big zeal for life.