Without fail, there is always something needing to be done when you are a parent. Try as you might to avoid it, my wife and I have been known to scatter like cockroaches in the light when those things need to be done, your responsibilities as a parent are there. For a long time, there were long stretches when one of us was tasked with all of the responsibilities (which did not lead to happy days for either of us). We have since made some changes.
Now, instead of trying to handle the brunt of all of it, my wife and I try to shoulder equal amounts. We have no scientific process or mathematical formula for how we decide who takes on these things (because playing Rock/Paper/Scissors to decide seemed a little too childish and Alicia always picked paper and lost to my scissors). We merely try to take in to account what is currently going on for the each of us. Work may have run long or been particularly stressful. Maybe we are just extra tired or flat out cranky? Whatever the reasons might be, we both try to be accommodating to one another. While it took a little bit to understand the concept of sharing, we figured it out while we were sleeping.
A long time ago, my wife and I had a conversation about our sleeping arrangements. Snuggling was ruled out after we tried it and both ended up with heat stroke and numb limbs. We quickly figured out what side of the bed to be on (I have been, for our entire married life, closest to the door. My wife explained to me why. Any intruder who may come in to the room would get me first giving Alicia time to escape. Love you too honey). We figured out how many pillows we needed to stock (4. I use one. She uses 3). It was like the Yalta Conference but with flannel sheets and down pillows.
A quick note: We had this conversation after getting married because we did not live together before we were married. My father-in-law said ‘No’ which was enough of a reason for me.
Lastly, and most importantly, we had to learn how to share the covers. Up until this point, both of us had been sleeping alone for our entire lives up. Getting your fair share of blankets was never an issue. Once we slipped in to bed as man and wife, the comforter that once looked like a parachute on our bed turned in to a tea towel.
Eleven years ago, the two of us jockeyed for square footage of covers. There were nights Alicia performed a crocodile death roll with the blankets leaving me with none. Those were the nights I employed brute strength to pull them back to my side like the Hulk pulling the turret off of a tank. There were nights I would slowly pull the covers to me until they bunched up on the floor next to me. Those were the nights I got elbowed. During these times, we were either cozy and warm or fighting off the effects of frostbite to our feet. Either way, one of us was unhappy.
Eventually we learned to share the covers (thankfully before either one of us lost a toe due to frostbite or she broke one of my ribs). Now, instead of an elbow to my solar plexus in the middle of the night, my wife quietly asks for more covers. Instead of pulling them out from under her like a magician pulling a tablecloth off of a fully set table, I will actually sit up in bed and redistribute them as evenly as I can. It has made for a happier (and warmer) night of sleep for both of us.
And today, the call to arms as parents never quiets just like the daily grind of life keeps on grinding. Our patience can thin. Our psyches can get fried. For as much as we both love and adore our children and would do anything for them, doing ‘anything’ for them, especially after a day you would ascribe ‘Hell’ comparisons to, can sometimes can be difficult. Only when we realized how unfair it was for either of us to leave the other out in the cold to handle it all did we understand why it was so important we learned how to share the covers.