For a Type A person like me, one of the more challenging aspects of parenthood is the lack of feedback about how I'm doing as a new parent, especially during the phase when my kid is still a non-interactive potato (don't tell Billable Baby I called her that). In my day job, I am used to receiving both spontaneous feedback from clients and supervisors, as well as structured, annual or bi-annual performance evaluations. Even in law school, we got seemingly random grades--but grades nevertheless--at the end of the semester.
In contrast, parenting seems more like a pass-fail 3L seminar--if Billable Baby is not screaming her head off, I guess we get to progress to the next level?! This low bar for the range of acceptable behaviors is normally a good thing, but for those of us who thrive on external validation, the whole experience of taking care of a newborn feels unnerving.
I was convinced that there must be a better barometer of progress and performance than a thumbs up from the pediatrician at the monthly checkup. To test this theory, I came up with the idea of writing parenting performance evaluations. My husband graciously agreed (read: was forced) to participate.
Here are the questions at our four-months evaluation:
- Things my partner is really good at.
- Qualities that make my partner a great parent.
- Areas of improvement that might bring my partner greater happiness.
- What our baby loves the most about my partner.
- One thing I'm glad my partner does so I don't have to think about it.
- How parenthood has changed my partner.
- Anything else?
One evening, we decided to sit down and write out responses at the same time. I'm a strong believer in sharing both the highs and lows of our lives, so here are our evaluation responses in their full glory.
Things I'm really good at (according to my husband):
- Being prepared for any situation
- Keeping necessities in stock at home and in reach [NB: With these two bullets, he is basically saying I'm good at running an emergency shelter, which I feel like could be a second career choice if the law doesn't work out]
- Paying attention to Billable Baby's comfort
- Reading up on and learning about parenting
- Running the baby show / planning for photos and events [Baby show is an activity we do with both sets of grandparents; more on that in a future entry]
Things my husband is really good at:
- Finding enrichment activities for our daughter and experimenting with different things (airplane time, upside down etc.)
- Making her laugh, playing with her, and being silly
- Taking care of both of us even though he has a full-time job
- Finding a logical path forward when everything is confusing [I was thinking of the mess that was our breastfeeding/bottle feeding/pumping schedule in the first couple of weeks]
Qualities that make me a great parent (according to my husband): Thoughtfulness, thoroughness, effort/gunnerishness.
Qualities that make my husband a great partner: Creativity, sense of humor, goofiness, willingness to invest quality time to raise our daughter, wanting the best for her and keeping in mind what is important (happy and healthy).
Areas of improvement for me: Putting less pressure on herself -- parenting is more about being there and trying than meeting some (very high, self-imposed standard). [I can't help it!]
Areas of improvement for my husband:
- Figuring out the optimal division of time between work and family
- Putting things back in their home after play time
- Not being as bothered by loud noises/cries
- Going to bed instead of playing video games or reading on his phone [I admit I drafted this question with this long list already in mind, okay?!]
What our baby loves the most about me (according to my husband): Her face.
What our baby loves the most about my husband: When he plays with her and makes her laugh.
One thing my husband is glad I do so he doesn't have to think about it: Being one step ahead always when thinking about child development.
Things I'm glad my husband does so I don't have to think about it: Cooking, tummy time, driving, walks.
How parenthood has changed me (according to my husband):
- More everything -- higher highs, lower lows [For some of those lower lows, see this entry on Billable Baby's birth story]
- Take more pleasure in simpler things
- Realigned values
How parenthood has changed my husband:
- He is more willing to connect with other people, such as other new dads
- He is funnier and more fun
- He is more willing to ask questions and advocate for our daughter
Parting words to me: Keep it up! Parenthood is a lifelong journey.
We will be back in 3-6 months for our next parenting performance evaluation! Have questions suggestions? Comment below!