This is probably not the best way to begin a conversation with one’s kind, loving, involved husband: “Just so you know I have large amounts of internal rage — and it’s mostly directed at you.” Thankfully, I followed this great conversation starter with “I know my rage is waaaay disproportionate to what’s going on . . . BUT I CAN’T HELP IT.” Then I cried.
The ‘final straw’ to my boiling over with rage involved grapes. The night before at dinner I had gotten up 3 different times to get Zoey more food, cut it up into a bazillion pieces, and then watch her throw most of it on the floor. I was sick of cutting up grapes and I just wanted to sit and eat my dinner which was still mostly untouched. Demetri was sipping his wine, was mostly done with his dinner, and hadn’t yet been up to get Zoey more food. And I was pissed. Now I knew, I knew for certain, that if I asked Demetri to prepare Zoey more food he would do it. He would even do it gladly. But I didn’t want to ask; I just wanted it to happen. So instead of asking Demetri for help, I turned up the heat on the already boiling red rage inside me. Over cutting up more grapes.
For me, asking for help (in some cases) seems to imply that it’s my primary responsibility. And yes, I know this is a tad bit crazy. I should be able to ask for help. I need to be able to ask for help. I do for many things. I ask for help with code brown diapers (“Oh good god! Can you hand me some more wipes please!”) and with baths (“Ok you distract her while I rinse the shampoo out.”). But there are some things it makes me CRAZY to ask for help with (feeding, dressing, nap time). A good friend articulated it well when she said, “I shouldn’t have to ask my husband to look after our baby’s basic needs.”
Before everyone gets all upset, Yes, I stay home while Demetri goes to work. He goes to work to provide for my needs and Zoey’s needs. He does a lot more than meet our basic needs. We have comforts and luxuries (like 4 different strollers and bags of Dove chocolate) because of his hard work. He mows the lawn (and does poop patrol before hand). He fixes leaky things in the house. He takes the recycling. He shares in the cooking. He takes the trash out. He waters the plants. He vacuums. He does a million other things I take for granted.
I stay home and Demetri goes to work. And that right there skews the child care responsibilities significantly. As it should. My job is Zoey. My job is not cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc. Demetri has always been very clear about that. I, on the other hand, have a lot of guilt about that. As a Women’s Studies minor and a forever feminist, I have guilt about the guilt. Very productive, I know.
But just like Demetri is glad when his work day ends, I look forward to that too. I look forward to not being The Mom In Charge Of All Things Zoey. This, I think, is where it all goes to hell. We both need and deserve a break. Demetri comes home tired but happy to see us. When he gets home I’m ready to hand Zoey off and take off for a run. Not so fair to him. And not so fair to me if I have to keep being the Mom In Charge.
For the record, I routinely run 4 times a week. Usually after Demetri gets home. My husband has my back. He’ll even tell me I look sexy in my running clothes before I slam the door on my way out. He has never been bitter about my running. Not once.
So what is my problem? Why all the rage? Demetri’s cousin, Damaris (Hi Damaris!), sent me a great book that is helping me navigate it. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. Go buy it. Now. I’ll wait. (hmmm hmmm la la la). Okay? Okay. My ‘problem’ is that being a SAHM (or SAHD) is hard and mind numbing and tiring and lonely and filled with failure and judged harshly by others* and doesn’t invole much (or any?) positive recognition and we won’t know if we’re doing a good job for years. And I’m just so tired. And I also do a million things that are taken for granted.
The good news? My rage was met with understanding. Demetri has been making a HUGE effort to notice Zoey’s needs. We now alternate putting her to bed and getting her food for dinner. We talk more about who does what and why. We both try and give each other some down time and space. We make a point of all playing together and having a dance party before bed. Do I still have rage? Sure, moments of it. But less of it is directed at Demetri and less of it is directed at myself. And that seems like progress.
*This week there seems to be an unusual amount of mommy blogs ripping down other moms either in the post or the comments. I’m SO SICK OF IT. Can’t we all just high five each other for doing the best we can? PLEASE!