5 minute read
Keep it together. The minute that you say this to yourself you know you’re a millisecond away from completely losing your shit. You need to fly down into the basement and do some shadow boxing or throw your head into the nearest pillow to scream like an animal. I did neither. I was on a door slamming binge, and it wasn’t even 8 o’clock in the morning. Cupboards. Dressers. Closets. Bedrooms. Bathrooms. No knob was safe. When I came to, I was standing barefoot in the kitchen, mid-slam when I flipped around to see my husband and kids frozen with blank stares. Silent. Waiting. And, yes, “judging. watching.” My Big Bad Wolf to their Three Little Pigs.
Have I turned into this person? The one who is cautiously watched with a mixed bag of confusion and fear? My frustration quickly morphed into embarrassment which I, of course, masked with a dismissive defensiveness. I warmed up my coffee, mumbled something incoherent, and slid out of the kitchen like a sulking self-conscious teenager.
Instead of calmly voicing that I was incredibly overwhelmed and needing a little help from my husband, I chose the higher road of pouting, slamming doors and seeing if my huffing and puffing, could in fact, blow a house down. (FYI: It can’t.)
I was left feeling shallow, gross and incredibly weak.
If I admitted it, spotlighting that I didn’t have my shit entirely together was the driving force here. You know, just in case slamming cupboards and stomping around like a fourteen-year-old wasn’t clue enough.
It is so not comfortable asking for help. I never thought of myself as this person. I always associated perfectionism with Stepford wives and Tupperware. Neither of which I am or sell. But, trying to maintain the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pre-kid personality that I proudly wore for years was just not working for me. I learned fast that this was my own version of perfect and had to change, pronto.
I also realized that not asking my husband directly for help is comparable to slowly adding cyanide to our marriage until it dies a slow and torturous death; doing it all is a recipe for disaster.
How do we stop creating a baby boom of man babies and get over ourselves?
If women keep struggling at the image of doing it all, the only surge that we will see is in the number of Xanax prescriptions in our pockets, empty bottles in our recycling bins, and high-demand divorce lawyers in our phones. Letting guys off the hook to take it easy and relax is only adding fuel to the resentment and divorce rate fire. I know that when my husband increases his car drives to drop-off, he’s also surging my sex drive for lift-off. Because when we’re overloaded with to-do lists, everyday responsibilities, and minute by minute decision making, we have no desire to stick anything else in us. Nothing.
I would love if my husband could just read my mind and know when I needed help, so I didn’t need to ask for it. But that is putting the onus on him to be a mind reader; not helping the situation.
So what’s the answer? Moving the fam to Vermont and selling jarred baby food that ends up making us millions? A girl could dream.
In the 80’s classic, Baby Boom, Diane Keaton’s character, J.C. Wiatt, is a no-nonsense businesswoman who can hold her own against the boys and rock the 80’s power suit like a champ. Her career is on the up and up and life is groovy. That is until she’s sidelined with the news that a distant relative has passed away and she has now inherited six-month-old baby, Elizabeth. She debates options and in the end, decides to raise the baby. In true Hollywood fashion, her romantic relationship and career suffer, so she leaves the big city for the Vermont countryside. There she becomes the utopian version of a single mother. Although she hits her share of kinks straight out of the gate, she soon manages to create a booming baby food business and land the local stud veterinarian (Sam Shepard) as her love interest.
FADE IN: Synthesizer
But you know what I want to see? A Baby Boom 2 that shows what life is like after the guy is in the picture. Do they push forward and teach us all how to be copacetic under one roof or do they break-up and call it quits before baby Elizabeth is even potty-trained?
Because there’s something equally incredible and terrifying about having little eyes looking to you to be their living and breathing moral and social compass.
” Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin
We are bombarded on a regular basis with solicited and unsolicited parenting advice. Brash judgments and calming reminders. Sideways glances and supportive smiles. However, the best advice I ever received was simple:
Happy Marriage = Happy Kids.
Work on the marriage and the kids will follow suit. Now, this isn’t saying that kids from divorced homes can’t be happy. I’ve seen divorce that is the “happy” needed to straighten things out. Sometimes staying together is not in the cards and admitting this ends up being the best hand played.
So, maybe the real advice is: Happy Home = Happy Kids and since I have no plans on being a divorcé anytime soon, I have some work to do; and so does he. I fall in the camp of marriage being way harder than parenting. I voiced that loud and clear at a dinner party and let’s just say was the “record scratcher” BIG TIME. Fortunately, I married someone who also agrees with me. We’re both equal pains in the ass. Still, we both work at it and hope to meet somewhere in the middle. And when I’m completely at rock bottom, or just want some prep material to keep me in check, I re-read Jancee Dunn’s “How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids.”
She delivers laugh out loud, yet honest and real advice. She had me at “dick wad.” This name-calling phrase of choice for her husband is peppered throughout the book. She’s also done her homework. She interviews an FBI hostage negotiator for God’s sakes and is completely on the nose with both people having to step up to make it work. What I love most is this is not a man-hating book at all. It’s about both people being accountable for their own shit and working through it together. She even uses her marriage as the threaded case study. She’s the real deal. I mean, really, the book really could be called “How to Keep Loving Your Husband After Kids” but who in the hell is going to buy that? There were more times than I’d like to admit that I was the live version of the clenched teeth emoji while reading. Since when did they start putting mirrors in books? Weird. The refreshing part is that I realized that I’m not alone. I have great girlfriends, and we swap stories, for sure, but the raw truth is sometimes harder to come by. It’s easier to bitch than it is to snitch on yourself for being wrong. But sometimes calling yourself out is the best-made plan, even if you do have to headlock a cupboard door to get there.
Fritz Curtis: [to an executive] This is Elizabeth. J.C. is taking care of her for a while.
J.C. Wiatt: Well, Fritz, I’m actually keeping her a little longer than that.
Fritz Curtis: Oh? How long?
J.C. Wiatt: [distracted] Oh, forever!