When I found out I was pregnant, I was 28 years old, had a great career, was financially stable and did not need a man to provide anything for my daughter other than love and attention. I am unapologetically an alpha female.
I was raised to be strong, independent, and not need anything from anyone. The thought of becoming a mother made me double down on my alpha instincts.
I transformed into a mother bear, willing and able to do anything and everything for my little cub.
The transition to motherhood for me was logistically a breeze. I already had a nest egg of cash saved, and I bargain shopped every designer and baby product on the market. Between my impulsive buying and awesome framily, my baby did not need anything for the first two years of her life.
At some point, after I decorated the perfect Pinterest-inspired nursery, washed-ironed-hung all of her little clothes on miniature pink velvet hangers (with handmade closet dividers), organized the almost two years' worth of diapers by size, put her car seat in my car, and pack one of her four diaper bags, my boyfriend asked, "Am I going to be able to buy anything for our daughter?" I know reading the intro, you probably thought I was single. Nope, my daughter's father and I are in a relationship and I use the term "co-parenting" to describe the duality of the roles of mother and father.
Immediately after the "our daughter" conversation, his words hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized I had all but intentionally limited his parenting to emotional support. I had noticed anything odd because I was perfectly happy. He was giving me everything that I wanted from him, support and love. He never missed a doctor's appointment my entire pregnancy (in a fit of hormonal rage I even made him leave a business trip early so he would not miss a routine check-up around month five). He would get out of the bed at midnight to take me to get hot donuts or drive me around town to find the best peaches. Truth be told I had no desire for him to do anything else. Honestly, I think I know everything about parenting MY daughter. Oops, I meant "our" daughter.
I am strong. I am independent. I never ask anyone for anything. I am prideful to a fault. I despise asking for help. I am strong-willed and able-minded. I am an alpha female.
Now, I am a mother.
An alpha mother that does not have a problem admitting that all the wonderful attributes that make me an alpha female also make me a terrible co-parent.
Admittedly, it is still challenging for me to relinquish any right to the rearing of our daughter. In my defense, I did turn out okay, and I would be delighted if she turned out just like me. I have several examples of my lackluster co-parenting abilities but most recently, I refused to relinquish any control of education decisions. Since pregnancy, I have obsessed about our daughter's early childhood education choices. I have visited most public schools and researched public and charter options in our city. I decided on my top choice, which is a costly private school for girls.
I completed the application process, our daughter was accepted, and I paid the seat deposit for her to attend. I did all of this before I consulted with my daughter's father/significant other. This situation is just one of the many examples of times that I have all but excluded him from making major decisions with our daughter. (I mean... I know more about education than he does so this has to be okay, right?)
I am far from perfect, and I know that I have to co-parent my daughter intentionally. In being mindful about my decision to co-parent, I try to ask myself a few questions before making decisions:
- Is this a major or minor decision?
- Is this decision something that I would want to make if I was a dad?
- How does this decision impact our daughter?
Co-parenting, if you are in a relationship or not, is difficult. I always have to remind myself that I get to share this amazing little girl and that she is truly ours, not mine. Oftentimes, having to suffocate the alpha female in me to create and sustain a healthy co-parenting relationship. And trust and believe, it's worth it.
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Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published July 18, 2019