Should you look for different things in a co-parent than you do a partner? We want everyone with whom we have intimate relationships to be competently smart, kind, curious and attractive. But while we do endless inventory of what we like, dislike, trust, distrust, covet, lust after, love, hate and admire about the new people we meet, it stands to reason that are some traits you may look for in a potential mate rather than a potential partner.
Perhaps the provider quality is attractive for both a husband and a father, but you’d guess that someone who references “birthing hips” ain’t especially looking for a wife.
I’m not terribly interested in having children (understatement), but if one slips by the goalie, hook or crook, I’ll want to know that this either devious or wholly irresponsible woman is someone who will complement and supplement my ability to keep a tiny person fairly safe (and allow him or her to become a solid citizen). Yeah, that’s a pretty big caveat, but here are seven things I’d love in the mom of my child.
1. The ability to respond well in a crisis
There will be blood. And ear infections. And fist fights. And exclusions. I’m not sure if there’s such thing as building character (I’d have virtually infinity character if bumps, bruises and setbacks did that), but handling adversity with grace is absolutely the world’s finest life skill, and your parents are really the only people who can teach it.
This isn’t to say that if some injustice is going on that you shouldn’t pipe up, but if you can manage to do so in a controlled, calculated way, your results will likely be more to your liking.
2. Somewhat of a hankering for all-things domestic
I can change diapers and I don’t mind. I can mostly cook and do laundry. I need someone who’s better at it than I am to force me to keep the kind of home that a member of Child Services wouldn’t spirit a toddler away from immediately. “Deserves” is the wrong word, but I’d like even a highly inconvenient child of mine to eat something besides cereal and occasionally wear white clothes a second time. Please let me help you help me.
3. A killer sense of humor
My fictional kid will sh*t all the way up her back at least once. It’s gross and stinky … and sort of hilarious. I’m not into toilet humor but if a person getting peed on because she diapered her son from back to front isn’t a little bit funny, then raising kids might not be for you.
I have a close friend who texted me a recording of her 18-month-old son yelling, “Mommy, there’s a f*cking bear in my crib!” She had to share that with someone rather than be mortified that her kid talks like some sailor from Jersey Shore.
4. The ability to function on minimal sleep
People saying, “The struggle is real” with anything less than extinction level issues drives me up the wall, but having chronic sleep problems is a pretty serious bummer. And it’s one that people who haven’t had them don’t really get.
“I don’t know, why don’t you just go to sleep earlier or something?” Cool, next time tell a homeless person to “get a house or something.” I’d prefer that my baby mama could get a contiguous eight hours, but she has to appreciate how crappy not getting regular sleep is and be very interested in devising solutions for nighttime kid issues. And she must be completely against co-sleeping in all but the rarest circumstances.
5. Hate the same things I do
Sure, love is one of the world’s most powerful forces but I’m OK if the mother of Denise Tiger Miller doesn’t LOVE Tina Fey. Or DMX. Or the Atlanta Braves. Or American exceptionalism. Or my dad. But I don’t want to bring a child into this world with someone who can stand Nancy Grace, jam bands, Pepsi or roller blades.
One of the most important things to show your children is that you have respect for one another and I couldn’t in good faith lie to my kid by pretending to appreciate certain tastes; it’d be a slap in everyone’s face.
6. Have some modicum of athletic interest
At one point, I was pretty decent at sports. As a late bloomer, that never really translated to much other than hearing people at the batting cage say, “Wow, where’d you play?” as an adult. I’m not asking you to paint your face orange and become the kind of cartoonish assh*le that sometimes gives Little League a bad name; I’m just asking for someone who’s cool wearing a t-shirt with clashing colors, and sometimes pitching to our kid or shagging her fly balls. Your choice.
Sports, particularly team ones, are great for kids to get exercise, understand competition and cooperation, learn to win with grace/lose with dignity, and appreciate what’s wrong with those crazy soccer people in Europe.
7. Believe in magic
I’m an atheist and I’m pretty sure there’s no magical bearded woman in space who pulls strings to make sure one person is born in a gutter and the next is born to Tom Brady’s parents. However, there’s a tremendous amount of things that happen in the world that we can’t explain; that we can’t observe and so we dismiss.
We’re not 100 percent sure why gravity works. We don’t exactly know why we’re conscious. Dark matter has been a thing and not a thing and then a thing again in my lifetime. Pretending that we have all the answers is boring and petty, but If I inadvertently have a kid, that little doofus’ very existence would be a minor miracle. I’d want his or her mom to believe that some wonderful parts of life are beyond our understanding.