I have my own thoughts…but this guy’s are pretty interesting to say the very least. This article written by a man named Matt Walsh is pretty involved, with great resources, and some pretty astounding responses to his Twitter feed.
Okay, yes this blog is still about my adventure in mommy-hood…but I’m convinced my son may be half lizard. Or platypus, snake, or any other animal that can somehow slink its way out of a tight spot before you realize it’s halfway gone.
I’ve said it before… I was a preschool teacher and a nanny. I have had my fair share of changing diapers, changing clothes, washing faces, putting socks back on, putting on coats, putting miniature mittens on, and digging random objects out of little mouths.
But for the life of me, I feel like I am dealing with an octopus every single time I have any interaction with my son. My husband and I have taken to putting a basket of random objects near the changing table just to entertain my son long enough so that he doesn’t smear the poop that has exploded in his diaper on his legs, hands, back, and sometimes face. Even then sometimes we fail miserably.
It takes twice as long to get my son’s pajamas on after bath then it does for me to make dinner most nights.
Even after removing his tray when he is finished eating, somehow Damian manages to find a food that he can smear all over his face after I have washed him down.
I’ve let him run around in just his diaper during the winter because fighting him to get his shirt back on wasn’t worth the energy. I’ve learned he will come ask for his shirt when he gets cold.
I couldn’t figure out why my cat’s food seem to be disappearing faster than it ever has in her entire 10 years of existence, until I realized my son thought it was snacks I put down at his level.
Maybe it’s because moms are inherently tired from waking three and four times a night to answer a crying child (after going to bed two hours after everyone else), from constantly struggling between housework and work-work (and in my case schoolwork as well), feeling like the definition of insanity because daily you do the same thing over and over expecting ONE day the house to stay clean, because your obligations, duties, responsibilities, chores, and others’ needs seem unending, and that the same thing I did years ago seems nearly overwhelming now. Maybe it’s because I got legit breaks then. Maybe it’s because (once again) my experiences only prepared me the way college prepares you for life: just minuscule enough that you aren’t blind sighted but not enough to truly be “prepared”.
Then this miraculous thing happened today. My son didn’t roll while I was changing his diaper. He didn’t fight me and cry when I was trying to get him dressed, and (the biggest surprise) he let me wash him after meals. Then I realized as I was telling my husband what I did differently today, was that I talked to my son. I didn’t yell or try holding him down, I didn’t chase after him and do a pretzel hold to try getting his shirt on. I literally, in my exhaustion and exasperation, said “Baby, PLEASE let mommy change your diaper. If you let me change you, then we can go play faster.”
It struck me like a tonne of bricks. I know he understands most of what I say, and instead of forcing him to do something I asked him. I let this little human know he had a choice. Small, and minuscule as his choice was, it was still his choice. I ASKED if he would let me help him. He chose to let me. We so often get in the parent mode of “I’m right, you’re wrong” without meaning to be condescending, that we are. We forget that if someone forced us day in and day out to do something, it would make us angry too. I’m not saying that tomorrow he won’t go back to rolling like a ‘gator who just caught his lunch…but for today his choice was to let me help. So today, life was a little more peaceful.
I’ve decided nap time is the lunch break of stay at home moms. True, we get at least an hour and a half, but that hour and a half feels like 15 minutes. After finally eating for the first time that day while making the phone calls you couldn’t while your toddler was screaming and running through the house (because being able to do that high-pitched noise is super awesome!) all morning long, doing a load of laundry, trying to switch over the dishes, catch up on any emails for work, and pick up toys so you can sit on the couch without killing yourself… By the time you actually sit down to take a moment, you hear your son talking and calling out “mooooooooooooom?!” while shaking the playpen so it bangs on the wall… Just in case you can’t hear him calling for you.
I won’t lie… I literally started sobbing when I read this. It’s a very very difficult thing to feel unappreciated, unwanted, and unneeded. Thankfully I don’t actually feel those things… But sometimes your brain tricks you and you think you really do feel that way.
I have a beautiful, amazing, smart, strong and super funny child. He takes after his dad. My husband is beyond amazing. He’s supportive, uplifting, playful, and an amazing provider. Even when things have gotten pretty bad in the past (I’m talking bad BAD. Like, homeless and starving bad) I knew he would always be there. We would survive, our marriage would thrive, and he would still be there.
So why am I jealous of my son? Not because of the amazing person he is, nor the exceptionally amazing man he will become…but because of how his dad interacts with him. It sounds ridiculous, and it is. I should be jealous of the fact that he gets a nap every day, that he gets 12-14 hours of sleep every night, that the entirety of his responsibilities consist of telling mom when he wants milk or food if it’s not meal time, telling mom when he is all done eating, and drinking all the water in his water bottle. Everything else is up to me to help him with or through, or just simply nature.
Let me back track a bit.
I’ve mentioned Love Languages before. They are brilliant. Before my husband and I were married – right before, actually – we went through an awful rough patch and actually called off the wedding. But we stayed together. We went to counseling and learned each other’s Love Language. His is Words of Affirmation and mine is Quality Time and Touch. Basically, when I got angry and exploded he ALWAYS took it personally…whether it was about him or not. He feels most loved when I leave little notes and texts affirming how amazing I think he is. It greatly impacts him when I say something positive, or negative, about him in any way. For me, however, though words matter, I feel most loved when he is spending Quality Time with me and when he snuggles, hugs, holds my hand, or any form of physical affection. You can see where this is going…
My husband and I have always been extremely affectionate with each other. In fact, when we went through that rough patch (we never did have a wedding…we eloped) there were extremely toxic people in our lives that actually told Jeremy: “I think you just love her too much. It’s not normal to be that affectionate.” Wait…WHAT?! Anyway, that is one thing in nine years that has never changed. Except, it has.
It was not unheard of for my husband to come home, hold me for a good solid minute, and talk to me about our days. We would do things together, we would go places just to go, and we had conversations that didn’t always have to do with the house-stuff.
But, as is life, we had a baby and things changed. I entered the Stay At Home Mom realm of once-a-week showers, yoga pants, no makeup, and pizza for dinner (again). It started as “Damian is too young to be left with someone” of why we didn’t go on dates any more, then morphed into “Well, no one else has ever put him down,” and settled into the every-parent reason of “We have no money and I’m too tired.”
I spend all day with this little amazing human, and (though wonderful and something I’m eternally thankful for) I’m exhausted and drained when my husband gets home now. I just want a break. I want to be alone. I want to be able to work. I want to be able to shower. So in passing the parent torch every night at 5 o’clock I stay back and finish dinner or literally just zone out on Facebook.
The last few nights though, it was a bit of a slap in the face for me. We don’t snuggle any more. We rarely hold hands, and when he comes home it’s a very quick peck and maybe an awkward, momentary group hug because the baby is on someone’s hip poking at someone else’s face. We drown ourselves in our phones or computers or tablets, and IF we talk it’s quick and house-stuff. We haven’t been on a date in months, and even then it was a movie…no conversation, no engagement, just sitting in different chairs in front of a reallllllly big TV. We PAID for the same nightly scenario just with a louder, darker TV than the one we watch every night. But to make it worse, every night while I’m trying to decompress just a tad I hear my son giggling hysterically, then silence, then conversations, and then more giggles. My husband is playing with him, then snuggling and watching a show, then reading to him, then playing again.
I had this moment of unbelievable joy at the sight of this normal nightly ritual, while simultaneously trying not to sob. It is NEVER that I want him to be any less of an engaging, fantastic father…I just want my husband too. I want to feel like I matter just as much, or that I’m just as interesting.
How do you get it back? How do you keep the actual intimacy in your marriage? How do you share the intense draining of parenthood…and still have enough to give to your marriage at the end of the day?
My son hasn’t used real words yet… But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t talk all the time. When I’m talking back to him and agreeing, I can’t help but think I agreed to him doing some damage… Like unrolling the entire roll of paper, playing in the garbage, or eating the cat’s food. Because he gets extremely excited when I say “okay!”