Alex and I had a bit of a disagreement last night. I won't go into the details because I really don't think I'd be painting either of us in a very favorable light and I would like to maintain my status as the most awesome person you "know."
The general idea of the disagreement was over asking for help, giving help, and the division of responsibilities. I know, you have probably NEVER heard of a husband and wife fighting over this. We are really ahead of our time. Always on the edge of the next big thing. Brace yourself people, soon you will probably hear about all sorts of couples fighting over who does what in the house. We might be booked for the Today Show next week. Tuesday or Wednesday.
Alex kept referring to the things inside this house as my job. Raising the kids is my job. Cleaning and cooking are my jobs. I have to say, I wanted my job to be to punch him in the face.
But, did he have a point?
I think that what I do is fill a role in our life. This can't be my job because a job implies pay, the ability to chose a different one, a seemingly temporary assignment. I really don't remember filing my w-4 for wiping baby poop and I am pretty sure I can't just up and pick a different family....at least not without someone wanting to make a made for TV movie out of it.
Wait a second, did I just come up with a brilliant idea to make some money? Must explore further....
I could pick a different role because I could go get a "job" and find childcare for the kids. I could say that I am paid in giggles and tantrums and hugs and tears...and the long term reward of hopefully raising a really great person, but do you pay taxes on that? Also, isn't it just a little dis-genuine to say that this is the same as getting paid in actual dollars which you could spend on things like a new pair of jeans?
I feel that we decided we wanted someone to be home with our children all the time and I fit that role best. I feel that while I am here I prepare meals and keep the house clean-ish and the clothes washed-ish. I take people to doctor's visits and lessons to make them into more well rounded little persons. I take the dog to the vet because, well these things tend to fall within the hours of Alex's job and the dog likes me more, of course.
Is it unreasonable though to think that after Alex returns from his job, that he should have to help with mine? I know all sorts of women reading this are screaming at that question being asked, and filled with frustration at me and my husband. Calm down, we're just talking here...just talking.
My husband works hard. He works REALLY hard. He's that employee that goes above and beyond. He feels like he is doing a horrible job and feels consumed with guilt if he gives less than all he has to do his best for his position. I wish he worked for me. He's amazing.
I work really hard. REALLY hard. I am a good mom. I am a pretty darn good housekeeper and an above average cook. I think my husband would agree. I think he thinks I'm amazing.
He is also frustrating. He leaves early, misses dinner with us 90% of the time and has his blackberry attached to his ear for a good portion of his time here. He is difficult to pin down for me to be able to go do things. He has trouble sleeping or even talking if there is something going on with work that is worrying him. These are not so fun.
I am also frustrating. I complain a lot. I have high expectations that probably won't ever be met. I am on my computer a lot...a lot. I am wimpy about lack of sleep and I like to spend money that we simply don't have. These are not so fun.
His invests a lot of himself in his work, but I think that is very typical of males and of women that love their job and feel passionately about it. I don't think Alex has a passion for his job, but I do think he has a passion of providing for us. He worries about paying the mortgage, the awesome minivan payment and his ability to give us things like a family vacation or a new couch someday. A huge portion of his working so hard stems directing from loving us so much.
I invest all of myself in this house and out children. I feel passionately about what I do because I made these people, I'm can't jack them up...it would reflect poorly on me. I don't think my role can be done half way for a "normal" Mom. Sure, I can slack on the cooking and cleaning, but people need to be fed and pee needs to be wiped up. Kids need to be disciplined, and loved. Lots of time spent loving.
Crap, looks like we are even-Steven. I thought for sure I would come out on top in the comparing and contrasting section of this post!
So why is it so difficult to get him to change the sheets on our bed? Or clean the dishes, which he normally does after dinner, if he's just too tired or doesn't feel in the mood? I don't feel in the mood to make lunches or grocery shop....ever, but it's part of my role and I don't see an option since eating seems kind of important around here.
Is it my job though to go to the grocery store? Is it my job to change the sheets, not his? If I need help with the laundry folding and he's watching TV and relaxing should he help me?
Is it any different if I spent 2 hours that day reading blogs? What if I simply sat in a lawn chair and watched the kids run around the yard for 3.5 hours in the afternoon because I didn't feel like doing the laundry, I wanted to relax? Should these things change the expectations I have for him that night when he comes home after working all day?
I don't mind cooking. I really don't want Alex to cook. I like that he goes to work and brings in the bucks, not that I wouldn't like to bring in the bucks too, but this is sort of how I see us best situated right now. I do hope that eventually changes and I can join the game again, but for now I don't see how we could make something different work. Except for that made for TV movie about my double life of course.
I like that I can stay home with the kids and I don't want Alex to do it. I think I'm better at it. I'm not trying to insult Alex, I just am. I'm also funnier, we all have our things. He's really pretty to look at.
I think our argument stemmed from both of our desperate needs for a break. We need to reconnect. We need to get away from these kids and we need to regroup as a team. We need a change of pace. We need a winning lottery ticket.
(Ok, we don't need the lottery ticket. But I bet it would at least change what we are disagreeing on for a while and we could probably go on a fancy vacation for the location of all our new fights.)
Thankfully my parents are coming to visit soon and that just makes everything better. Everything.
He can call it my job if he wants to, it's really just semantics. I am definitely, without question, responsible for all the child rearing, the cleaning, the cooking, etc, just like he is responsible for all the money making. But, whether I ask him to help fold laundry or he asks me to help him work through an employee issue, we are a team. We each have specialities, but we should each ask for help when needed. And we should get the help when we ask.
The moment we are fighting over things like folding laundry or who left the milk out (Alex) we both start losing. The "who has it harder game" always results promptly in two losers. It's a really crappy game.
And my job is way more difficult than his job, Oprah says.
PS I didn't reveal the details of the fight because hopefully you can see just how ridiculous it was with all of my mentions of laundry and cooking. There was no bad guy, there is no weak woman. There is no one to defend, no one to beat up. We both sucked for a while and we are both back to freakin awesome. Ok, freakin awesome-ish.