Traditionally it’s at the wedding when couples make their vows to one another. And it’s easy to make promises when it’s just the two of you in the picture. Throw a baby into the mix and suddenly promising to “love and obey” takes on a whole new level of impossible alongside sleepless nights and a screaming newborn in the corner of the marital bedroom.
With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to start making pre-baby vows as well as the traditional wedding vows.
Here’s a suggestion for how they could go.
Pre-baby vows for him:
[INSERT NAME] by making a small person with you I demonstrate my love and commitment to you until this small person can fend for themselves properly.
I promise not to judge or question your decisions and methods in the early newborn phase and I accept that some of these may become a little bit wacky and OCD because you are under a lot of pressure. For instance, if you decree that the baby wipes must always be on the left hand side of the changing table, I will accept this as so and not argue about it.
Because you are the person who will mainly be dealing with the fall-out of crucial decisions like cloth or disposable? To wrap or not to wrap? Bottle or breast? I agree not to override you and/or assume that I can ‘manage’ and solve these problems ‘man-style’ with corporate negotiation or economic rationalist tactics.
I will tag team you in sleeplessness and exhaustion, offering to let you sleep whenever possible. Most importantly I will not interpret “Let’s have an afternoon nap,” to mean, “Let’s have sex” unless you explicitly say, “Let’s go and have sex.”
I promise not to pressure you about going back to work nor will I ever pull rank based on income. I will value the unpaid labour of keeping our offspring alive as highly as I value my job.
I promise to forsake my mother’s opinions on all matters to do with raising children and defer instead to yours.
I will forsake Friday night drinks until further notice and will curtail any other weekend activities that will leave you alone with the baby unnecessarily for hours on end.
I will love and respect your pre-baby and post-baby bodies in equal measure.
I promise not to argue with you about who is more tired and will accept that the hours from 5 – 7pm will be an ‘all hands on deck’ shit-fight situation.
Please accept this ring as a symbol of my ongoing commitment to you as the mother of my child until death by sleep deprivation do us part.
Pre-baby vows for her:
[INSERT NAME] by making this small person with you, I demonstrate how highly I regard you as a trusted person who will not do a runner on me when I am knee-deep in nappies and at my most vulnerable point in life.
I promise to keep my wacky newborn-rearing methods to within the realm of sanity and to listen when you tell me I may be over-thinking things a little bit. I may or may not cry like a hippo when you ‘criticise’ me in this way and for this I apologise in advance.
I promise to tell you what I am upset about instead of making you guess. I also promise to let you contribute to looking after the baby and not become a total control freak.
I will accept that you need to throw a baby in the air to have a good time with it but ask that you refrain from doing so right after the baby has been fed.
I will honour your need to come up with alternate solutions to certain baby-related problems. For instance you may decide that you need to invent a rig to “outsource” the task of rocking the baby to sleep. I will allow you to explore your invention activities fully without judgement or hindrance as long as your invention passes all safety requirements.
I promise to love you in sickness and in health, but more importantly I promise to love you during the witching hour. My commitment to this will be kissing you on the lips when you get home from work. After that please do not expect my full attention until the baby is asleep at which point I may just collapse face down on the bed fully clothed and forget to wash. No judgement and no “suggestive cuddles” with your “rod of loving” in the small of my back, please.
Please accept this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you as the father of my child. And yes, we will have sex again eventually.
Congratulations! You may now go forth and procreate.