We never sat down to divide the parenting responsibilities when my daughter decided to show her glorious face. I decided to continue working part time even though I thought I had wanted to stay home. The Air Force decided that he needed to work 14 hours a day plus weekend trips.
"She doesn't like me" he'd say, handing this screaming little being off to me as I sat alone in the rocking chair in the dark nursery.
We scrambled to do what we thought was best. I worked and parented a lot. He worked and parented a little.
And it didn't work. For me.
Since then we've struggled with the notion of co-parenting. I became a stay/work-at-home-mother where the line between on and off duty as a mother is blurred.
Comparisons are drawn.
"Is it harder to hold our daughter for two naps every single day and bounce her non-stop so she stops screaming or fly a plane?" I'd ask him, begging him to just come home and skip the gym so I could get a break.
Now he's gone for all but a week a month. A few days here, a few more there. She cries for him any time she gets upset. "I want my daddy," she screams.
Then she cries for him when he leaves. And I'm left to pick up the pieces.
Co-parenting is a myth that I'm not sure will ever exist in my home. I parent my children singularly almost every day. We have a routine and a schedule. On most days, it's not pretty. The naps are minimal, but so are the tantrums.
I work during naps and long into the night. Sometimes I think I work in my sleep.
But then my husband comes home. My daughter hangs on him like a deranged Christmas ornament. He kisses me, plays with her, holds the baby, and changes a diaper.
"She doesn't need a nap," he tells me, as she rubs her eyes, later throwing tired tantrum fits. What do you know? You haven't been here in a week.
"I think he needs to eat," he says, plopping him down on my lap. Then feed him. I'm pretty sure you can mix cereal can't you?
I feel as though his presence is fleeting. We are the constant while he comes and goes like a strong breeze blowing us over and leaving us to pull ourselves up on our own.
We are disconnected as people and as parents.
We're no longer four.
We're 3 + 1.