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Monday, September 7, 2009

Who is This Man and Why is he Sitting in my Living Room?

When we brought Addie home from the hospital, Willie and I were a "we". A team. We shared the responsibilities of diapering and bathing and changing. We both woke up in the middle of the night. Of course, I was solely responsible for feedings, since Willie has yet begun to lactate. I thought "Am I really this lucky? Do I really have a husband that is involved?!" How did I accomplish this?

As astounding as it is, this pattern continued for months. Willie played with Addie and changed her diapers and helped feed her once she was on solids. They had an incredible bond. Unfortunately, he recently started a new job. Because of his hours, it seems to have really affected our home life-sometimes in a negative way. He is home less often and has become less and less involved. I have found myself discovering what other moms feel like. You know, the ones that complain that they get no help.

I have been run ragged.

I'm frustrated.

I'm not getting enough sleep.

I'm emotional.

I can't keep up much longer.

Who is this man and why is he sitting in my living room? This is not the man I have seen become a father for the past months.

I have been picking fights left and right, asking Willie to do things, telling him to do them, yelling at him when he doesn't do them. I know he is stretched thin with working nights and trying to get into his new routine. Unfortunately, the irrational side of my mind has taken over. I have been resenting him for working, leaving me alone with a 9 month old every day. All day.

I intended to have a long talk with him. I was going to talk to him about what he was doing wrong. About how he needed to improve. About how he was leaving me feeling alone in this parenting journey.

Of course, we don't always follow through with our intentions, do we? There is a point in your planning where you choose a path. Do it, or don't do it? Talk about it, or don't talk about it? For me, the decision point was while reading a Parenting magazine about "Gatekeeper Moms". I thought "This is ridiculous..." but alas, I was bored, so I took the quiz. I would not normally put much faith into a magazine quiz, but as I started reading the article that went with the quiz, it seemed very familiar. He does always ask me when/how/where to do things. I do always give a list of details with each instruction. I always find something negative about a task he expected praise for.

So, I had a chance to talk briefly with Willie the next morning.

Me: "So, I think I know what our (or my) problem has been lately."

Him: "Oh yeah? What's that?"

Me: "Well, you know how I've been having issues with the help I'm getting, and I know I've been picking a lot of fights over this lately, "

Him: "Yeah..."

Me: "I read an article in a magazine last night that really spoke to me. I think the problem is me, not you."

Him: "Wait...what?!"

Me: "Well, after reading the article, and letting it sink in, I realize that despite my best efforts not to be that mom that hovers and tells her husband how to take care of the baby, well...I kind of have become her. I wanted to apologize and tell you I'm going to work on it."

Him: "So...this isn't the conversation I expected."

Me: "I know. I didn't expect it either, but I see now that I have been hovering. I am really going to work on it so you can be confident in how to take care of Addie. She loves you, and you deserve quality time with her. You're a good dad, I don't know why I didn't let you do things your way from the beginning. I was warned this might happen a million times and said 'that won't be me' and it turns out, it is. I need to work on my control issues."

Him: "Umm...wow. So, this conversation wasn't to tell me what I was doing wrong? I mean, you're not going to tell me to change? You're not going to tell me to do more around here?"

Me: "Well, yeah. I mean, I'd love for you to take more initiative with Addie and the house. I think that's important as well. But the difference is this time I'm going to let you."

Him: "Wow. Thanks babe. I'll try to do more around here."

A week or so has passed since this conversation took place. I am trying to be the bigger person. I am letting him make his mistakes. If he puts her in a pink onsie with red pants, it won't hurt her. I doubt half of the time people will even notice.

This will take work on both parts. I see subtle improvements. I watch him voluntarily change a dirty diaper again and think who is this man?

I am working on subtle improvements in my behavior as well. I find myself biting my tongue to keep from telling him what I think is wrong with her, or how he should play with her.

It will take time, but I think we will eventually have our partnership back.

I think eventually we will learn to value each others opinions again when it comes to our daughter.

I guess the moral of this post is nobody is perfect, and we shouldn't always put the blame on others. Sometimes, all that's needed is a small change on our own parts to affect the world around us.


1 comment:

  1. I think I'm in love with this post. Keep it up Angie, that's where I find myself faltering. I will have the realization that it's "not all him" and then I'll get back into my old ways and have to start over, but yay for good relationship convos, and then changes following! Love it!