Let me preface this post with the following disclaimers:
1. I love my husband very, very much. I intend to spend the rest of my life with this man and am more than happy that I have spent half of my life thus far with him.
2. He has been fighting a really terrible cold.
3. He is a great father and a fantastic husband.
4. I have not had a full night’s sleep in about a year. (Factoring in the pregnancy and the Gadlet’s needs).
5. I have put my dissertation work on hold for the past month while he worked on a Terribly Important Conference Presentation
6. I am writing this post at midnight. – a time I have not been awake for (of my own accord) in about a year.
7. We have just had a terrible fight and the Nyquil kicked in for him before we could finish it.
Today was a totally terrible day. It began with griping, ended in sobbing, and in between was filled with maggots, dirty dishes, dirty laundry, a chaotic house, and a constipated baby. (Oh, and had a smidgen of therapeutic Buffy.)
Here is how it began. My schedule last night:
9:30 p.m.: Nurse, go to sleep
3:00 a.m.: Nurse
3:3:0 a.m.: Return to sleep
5:30 a.m.: Nurse
6:30 a.m.: Spousal Unit’s alarm goes off. He keeps sleeping.
I lay there between my sleeping baby and husband and listen to some damn story on NPR about how the world is coming to an end because of global warming or homelessness or Iraq or Iran or Russia or Bush or trash or flying monkeys. I ask Spousal Unit “are you listening to this?” He says, “sort of.” A few minutes later, just when I get interested in the special interest story about pie eating contests or a swimming pig or the two-year-old art prodigy that is supposed to make me feel better about the fact that the world is coming to an end, he hits the snooze. I lay there looking at the ceiling for a while until The Gadlet wakes up and nurses again. We hang out in bed a bit, she dozes. I don’t. Spousal Unit hits the snooze button. Again. Around 8:00 a.m. the Gadlet and I get out of bed. Spousal Unit decides to stay home from work because he feels so crappy, so we try to let him sleep. I take a shower and leave the Gadlet in her co-sleeper with a monitor on so that I know if she’s getting grouchy. After I get out of the shower, I gather all of the bathing equipment and give the Gadlet a bath. All goes according to plan, until I try to put her clothes on – at which point she starts screaming bloody murder. Seriously shrieking. I had to stop dressing her and pick her up for cuddling with her shirt hiked up around her neck and one arm through the sleeve. By the time I’ve calmed her down enough to complete the clothing process, I’m exhausted and she’s starving. So, we go downstairs to nurse at the “nursing station.” (a.k.a. a chiar that is comfortable and a nursing pillow most embarrassingly called, I shit you not, “My Breast Friend.” Gak.) Then I notice the laundry that has been piling up for days and the suitcases that haven’t been unpacked since we got home on Saturday. I take the Gadlet into our bedroom -- that has since been vacated by Spousal Unit -- he’s downstairs doing computer work. I get through folding a basket of clothes and the sorting before the Gadlet starts cranking again. Did I mention that she hasn’t crapped since last Thursday? Makes for a mightily cranky baby. I take her into her room/my study, change her, and stick a thermometer in her ass to attempt to get her to poop. (The pediatrician told me to do it, I swear!) She doesn’t even look phased in any way. She grins and coos and continues to refuse to poop. So, I give up on the Useless Poop Induction Project, set her down and start to send some email about work stuff, when Spousal Unit comes into the room.
“Why did you leave the bathroom such a mess, can’t you ever finish a task?”
Huh? I looked at him incredulously. What bathroom? Oh, right, the bathroom. That was hours ago. But, wait. The man is not complaining to me that I didn’t empty the baby’s bathwater after that screamfest we survived and all the other stuff I've been doing since? Oho, yes he is. I blinked a couple of times, and replied: “Well, if it was in your way, why didn’t you empty it?” He had the grace at least to look sheepish and to admit that that might have been a good solution to things. We have a good chuckle, and he goes downstairs.
Where he finds an army of maggots crawling around on the ceiling. Yes. Maggots. On our kitchen ceiling. Clearly they have hatched from some badly packaged snack food or wheat product and are questing around in search of a place to lay their damned eggs and turn into moths or perhaps flying monkeys that will then get into all of the rest of the nuts and flours and beans and dried fruits. So, Spousal Unit embarks on a de-maggotification. He empties out the whole pantry cabinet and puts all of anything that is suspect in the garbage. Kudos too him for this horrible task. Meanwhile, I empty the annoying and offensive bathwater and continue multitasking the day – laundry, cleaning, childcare, email, health insurance, work stuff, nursing, cleaning, cooking. I do these things all at the same time – so nothing is every getting my full attention but I’m working on 100 things at a time.
When lunch rolls around, thinking that he had had such a shitty morning, and because he feels so sick I make him homemade chicken and matzo ball soup. Yummy. After lunch, the Gadlet falls asleep in the carrier, so I lay down on the couch with her and watch some Buffy (Season 4: Something Blue & Hush). Spousal Unit also takes a nap. I doze a little. After the nap, we both go back to our respective tasks: He’s working on work stuff, I’m working on the house. We jogged along pretty well until bedtime.
When he gets into bed. Spousal Unit decides that now is as good a time as any to bring up the baby’s bathwater. So, he asks me why I can’t ever finish tasks and why he has to always clean up after me. I respond in a completely kind and rational way by asking why the hell he never does anything ever to help out with HIS baby that I spent nine months yakking for and 10 hours in intense pain for and that left me with a frankencoochie and belly and huge ass and a body that will never be the same and that I do everything for at all times every day all day. Then he complained that I never give him credit for the stuff he does do. I reasonably respond by sobbing my heart out and asking why he never volunteers to help so that I can work on my dissertation. Before we can both get actually reasonable, the Nyquil kicks in and he falls asleep. Yes, right in the middle of a fight. Before he is completely unconscious, he murmurs something about how I am right and that he loves me and zzzzz…..
So, here I am – pissed off, crying, alone, exhausted with a terrible headache and a heart full of crap that I need to vent about how annoyed I am with my favorite person in the world.
Except that lately there’s been a bit of competition for that spot. Which is weird and awful, while at the same time comes from something wonderful. And it is kind of ironic, really, that we had this fight today because yesterday I think I came to a really important conclusion about relationships and about being a parent and a partner.
Before the Gadlet, it was obvious where my relationship energy should go – to Spousal Unit. There was just the two of us, and so it was normal and reasonable that he got all of my love and attention. Then the Gadlet was born and this strange thing happened – where there were once two people, now there are three. And we have to create a whole new dynamic of a relationship with her and with us. And for me, that has meant putting her needs above anything else – above my own and above Spousal Unit’s. Her survival depends on my giving her all of my energy – so I took it from all of my other places, from my work, from my own health, from my relationship. I mean, where else can you get the energy for parenthood? It has to come from somewhere. While being with her is so great it gives me some energy back, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t draining my reserves and my other outputs to give to her. Which I want to do – more than anything.
But, yesterday I realized that someday she is going to leave me. It is not only inevitable it is right and perfect that she should do so. And I realized that if I give her all of my energy – everything, and if I don’t save some for myself and for Spousal Unit, when that day comes that she does leave to go and begin her life as a grownup on her own, I’ll be left with nothing. As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that Spousal Unit is the one who will stay with me when the Gadlet goes. So, yesterday, I decided that I should find a way to give him more of my energy. And I decided that I needed to find a way to give myself some time and energy as well. But today, I forgot to tell him all of this great stuff. Doesn’t that suck? Shitty timing, universe. Shitty timing.
I know tomorrow we’ll wake up and go down to the maggot-free kitchen in our clean clothes and realize that we both were right and we both were wrong and that we love each other more than anything else except the Gadlet and that the other stuff doesn’t matter in the long run. But tonight, feeling like sleep is the last thing I’ll find even though I know that I’ll have to wake up in 2.5 hours to nurse, I’m feeling like life and parenthood and relationships are pretty hard, dammit.
- At 9:24 AM Waterlily said...
Wow, very insightful post! Thank you. It's got me thinking about where I'm putting my relationship energy and whether I want to put it in different places voluntarily or keep it all for myself :)
- At 10:19 AM Amanda said...
This is a beautiful post and I love reading your blog. I don't have children, so I don't really know what this is like, but I think putting energy into your relationship is important. Especially if you want to model what good relationships are like for the Gadlet. Of course, you can only give so much of yourself!
It must be terrifying, having to stretch yourself between two people you love so much. I think you're brave and very emotionally intelligent and that those things will make you a successful mother and partner.
Thank you for such a wonderful blog!
- At 12:28 PM spark said...
Love you both! Courageous post!
- At 3:29 PM mom said...
Holy Shit. Yes, yes, yes. I was married for 9 years to dh before #1 (and we dated for YEARS before that), and I can say with no uncertainty that in the last 20 years of being with him, the 4 months after my dd's birth was the low point of our marriage. We describe it as that period when we both became "grabby and mean." When neither of your needs are being met and both of you are exhausted and one of you is hormonal and one of you feels a little jealous -- kersplosion. I remember dh went for a run on father's day, 4 weeks after dd was born, and I resented that 35 minutes so deeply. I was bitter. He had time for himself while I suffered. "How was your run?" I nearly spat at him -- and on father's day. So, Stewwy, no worries, just try to keep talking and try to take turns getting what you need (at least a little of it), and tell him the next time he mentions the bathroom, you're going to put a leech on his penis 4-6 times a day for a week and see how he likes it.
- At 12:14 PM Mimi said...
Oh man. I had exactly the same realization about Munchkin and Pynchon re, who will tell me jokes in the nursing home. It's Pynchon. Our love and our strength is what got me through The Awful First Months. And yet? This morning we had a fight about who is supposed to empty the dishwasher and who was supposed to launder the poopy snowsuit (don't ask). And yet? My love for Munchkin is simpler and more satisfying right now: it's easy to love a toddler -- they're not complex and flawed.
- At 7:01 PM Scrivener said...
Everyone else already said many of the things that I would say, so can I point out instead that even in the midst of this middle-of-the-night ranting sad post, you turned the whole thing around in the end and reinvented the meaning of your blog title? I mean, that's pretty good writing, dammit.
- At 8:31 AM landsnark said...
My DH and I, before we were married, had a HUGE fight one morning over, I shit you not, how many pairs of shoes it was appropriate for me to have tucked under my dresser. He said two. I said however many I goddamn well felt like having under there as long as they weren't in his way. We both went to work and I spent part of the day looking at apartment ads on the bulletin boards on campus.
But now here we are. 595 days of marriage (he's the one who counts it up periodically, we were just talking yesterday about what we should do for our 600 diaversary) and it gets better every day. Well, almost every day. This is the second marriage for both of us and we're both doing a *much* better job than the first time.
- At 5:25 PM Nikki said...
I just wanted to let you know that I read this post on another site child-care.cominfohelpportal.com (you have to go through a couple of pages). The reason I am contacting you is because they also did this to me. I was able to get my post removed. It also means your blog was scraped (a portion was copied and posted somewhere else and then linked back to you with no attribution to you as the author). I don't know if you care about this or not but it looks like the entire site is a scraper site.
- At 9:58 AM Stewgad said...
Thanks to everyone for your kind comments -- things are better and have been since the fight. I guess we just needed to clear the air. Or the bathwater, whichever the case may be.
Nikki -- thanks for the heads up! How truly annoying. I couldn't find the post, though. The link you gave me didn't work. If you get a second, could you track it down for me? I found a different site doing the same thing -- Spousal Unit called it Blogairism, which I thought was pretty funny.
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