That’s my new motto, and I tell myself this regularly. As you can tell from my previous post, the hubs and I have been struggling – a lot. I really appreciate all the comments from everyone. It’s so nice to have the support of my girlfriends, even if they’re all over the blogosphere! In retrospect, hubs’ comments were not about breast milk at all. I think he’s overwhelmed with being a new parent too, and things are very different in our household than they used to be. I don’t really do well when I’m tired and stressed, and I think I haven’t been the easiest person to be around. Yes, I need help, but instead of being proactive about it and talking to him calmly prior to needing help, I sometimes wait until I’m desperate for help, and a bit frantic. And he does not respond well to that. I’ve been focusing too much on how unfair the distribution of labor is between the two of us, instead of creating a happy home for our baby girl. I even sat down and wrote down each of the tasks that it takes to run our household, from taking out the trash to bathing Alex, quantified the amount of time each task takes, and identified who currently performs each task. What did I learn? That I spend about four times the time each week on our household than the hubs. Not a huge surprise, but what does this gain me?
I thought about sitting the hubs down and showing him this list, telling him he needed to help out more. I thought about how that conversation would go, and couldn’t come up with any scenario in which I would actually get what I want – a more fair household. But is this really that important? I love my husband, and I love Alex, and isn’t that really all that matters? I try not to fight in front of Alex, but as she gets older, she’s going to figure out that Mommy’s bitter and mad all the time, and Daddy is pissed off and saying mean things to Mommy. Is this what I want? Absolutely not. I remember that kind of household. I grew up in that kind of home. I knew for a very long time that my mom and dad hated each other. They stayed together for the “sake of the kids” and I knew that. Finally, when I was twelve, I wrote them a letter asking them to get a divorce, and I told them that staying together for the sake of me is not helping me, it’s only hurting me. I hated being at home, listening to them argue after I went to bed. It was such a tense environment, I swore I would never do that to my child. I really love my husband, and want to spend the rest of my life with him. Why shouldn’t it be a happy and loving home instead of a bitter and maybe fair, but probably not fair, home? Yes, I want to teach my daughter that both parents should participate in the household, and that women aren’t subservient and meant to take care of their men. But if I have to fight her father every day in order to accomplish this, is it worth it? I would rather be a single mom than have her grow up in an unhappy home. So I wrote the hubs this email last week before I went home:
“I’ve decided that a happy household, where you and I are happy with each other and enjoy each other’s company, is much more important to me than trying to achieve some level of fairness, that is really only in my mind. And it’s very important that we create a happy household for Alex to grow up in. I need to accept that both of us at different times will be doing different amounts of work, and that’s just how it is, and it has to be ok. Every couple has struggles when they become parents, and this time is difficult on both of us. We’re both tired, and stressed, and trying to figure out a way to manage. But we need to be nice to each other. That’s the most important thing. Because Alex deserves parents that are loving, both to her and with each other. So I’m going to go home soon, and focus on creating a happy household for us and our daughter. OK?”
I didn’t get an email response, but that night when he came home from work and I was giving Alex a bath, he washed and prepared the bottles for the next day. All on his own, without me asking. For the first time. Since then, we’ve been nice to each other. And I’ve tried to stop tallying in my head everything I do versus everything he does. But he’s been doing more, mostly with me asking, but sometimes on his own as well. I love our home when we’re both nice. We made it through the whole weekend with no fighting, which is huge for us lately! And today, I left him at home for the first day of Daddy Daycare, as we call it. He’s taking care of Alex for three weeks. A couple of you asked last week if he’ll be able to handle it. Yes, I have no concerns with him being able to take care of her. He did it for one day already a few weeks ago, and did just fine. He’s great with her, but he chooses to not take care of her and allows me to do everything, which frustrates me more than if he were incompetent! But I think it’s great that he’s doing this. Yes, it will give him an opportunity to see what it really takes to run things day in and out. But I really want him to be able to bond with her more. A lot of his time will be changing diapers, and feeding and such, but as all of you moms know, that’s when you really bond with your babies. She’s also starting to play a lot more, and he excels at that. But I’m so excited that they will have this time together.
Hubs has lots of ideas of all the things he will accomplish around the house during these three weeks. He asked me to put together a list of things that need to be fixed/painted/organized, etc. I did, but I told him that his only requirement is to take care of Alex, and all of the rest is optional. We’ll see how it goes. I really hope that he doesn’t create additional work, and that the house isn’t a total disaster when I come home in the evenings! But even if it is, as long as Alex is happy, fed and clean, it will be just fine!