Thoughtful Thursdays: Will Pay for Pragmatism

Thoughtful Thursday came just in time, because man have I been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Basically, I’ve been feeling a little resentful of late. I’ve been harboring resentment towards my partner, who continues to struggle with this intense transition into parenthood, and into a place of perpetual sleep deprivation.

Two nights ago I felt the frustration. As we lay in bed, Mi.Vida remarked that he was sooooo exhausted. I felt my blood boil a little. Why are you so exhausted?! I fumed to myself. You came home, ordered a pizza, ate the pizza, watched TV and went to bed. That is what you did – while I did laundry, changed diapers, bathed Isa, put her in her PJs, fed her, rocked her, put her to bed and then put her to bed again when she woke up later. So why are you so tired? I fell asleep feeling very frustrated that my partner was complaining of how tired he was, when he didn’t even do any night feedings, and hardly lifted a finger when he got home.

A little back story might be necessary here. Mi.Vida and I argued about chores for a long time, a really long time. I nagged that he needed to do more and he repented, feeling guilty that he hadn’t and promising he’d change. Wait one month and repeat. We did this SO MANY times for so many reasons and I was starting to get beat down. While this was happening we were trying to cook more, but I hated it. I don’t like cooking – never have and never will. I tried to cook more but it stressed me out. We started getting a CSA box which stressed me out even more. Now we had food delivered to us that we HAD to use, and quickly. We didn’t cook enough and we threw food away and I felt guilt and stress and frustration. I wanted to cancel the CSA box but Mi.Vida was adamant that we keep it. It was important to him – cooking was important to him. Finally there was something that he wanted more than me. I saw my opportunity and I seize.

We came to an agreement that Mi.Vida would be in charge of all things kitchen (except the dishes) and I would do everything else. We’d shop together and share dishes and kitchen cleaning duty but Mi.Vida would unload groceries, clean out the fridge, pick up and package the CSA box stuff, and cook. In exchange I would do everything else. I was already doing everything else (most of the time) and I hated the CSA box and cooking enough to make the trade. We agreed and things were great, for a while.

Then Isa is born. Mi.Vida’s dad starts to pick up our CSA box and both our parents are bringing us meals. Mi.Vida’s parents even do our grocery shopping (for way longer than I’d like to admit). The first weeks with both of us home are amazing. Mi.Vida goes back to work and struggles with the stress and sleep deprivation. He cooks every once in a while but mostly we’re ordering in. I’m trying to support Mi.Vida however I can, dealing with Isa almost completely when he comes home and always taking all the night feedings (Mi.Vida has NEVER taken a night feeding in Isa’s three month life). I never say much about the fact that it’s been three months and while I’ve taken on significantly more responsibility he continues to slack off on his.

Not only is Mi.Vida not really helping out much, but he’s constantly in a bad place, emotionally. He comes home every day, tired and beat down. He has no energy for anything. Even though we get the same amount of sleep (I actually get less except for the few mornings Isa will sleep in with me) he is way more tired than I am. I’m starting to get the feeling he thinks his job is harder than mine, that he is more put upon somehow. He also has enough energy to to to late night meetings for his podcast/website at least once a week, sometimes two or three. When he’s home, there are little comments here and there, about the state of the house or the fact that he can’t cook because we never go shopping. At night, when Isa wakes us up, he sighs loudly.

Last night things come to a head. Unfortunately I handle the situation poorly and basically attack him, resentment seething from every word. Fortunately, Mi.Vida keeps his cool and we’re able to eventually have a good conversation. I express that I feel so frustrated that he comes home the same way every day and never has any suggestions to make it better. If we don’t go shopping enough, how can we schedule that in? If you aren’t get enough sleep, why doesn’t you sleep in the guest bed (which we kept especially for this possible situation)? I know that I’m not getting everything done perfectly, but when things aren’t working I brainstorm ways to make them better. I’m so sick of what has become his seeming resignation to feeling shitty and being unable to contribute.

Mi.Vida has things to say as well – I have no idea what his life is like right now, he assures me. I agree that I don’t but I want to. He says he feels stretched so thin, even though he’s doing things outside of the home he doesn’t feel present at them because he’s so tired. He feels ineffectual around the house, especially with Isa-related things. And he’s tired. He doesn’t know what else to say about that, he’s just bone tired.

We decide to keep the guest bed (which we were about to get rid of to give us more space) and Mi.Vida slept there last night – he seemed much better this morning. We have plans for grocery shopping and Mi.Vida agrees that a pragmatic attitude is key right now. We both feel better about the situation.

We’re still along way from a perfect relationship. I went to dinner today with my sister who’s breaking up with her boyfriend and miserable at her insane job and the whole time I was worried about Mi.Vida being overwhelmed by Isa’s probable meltdown. I’d love to feel better about his ability to handle those stressful moments, but I’m sure that will happen in good time.

I know that this transition is not only something that I make and that Mi.Vida makes, but something our relationship makes. Just as it’s sometimes a difficult transition for me and for Mi.Vida, it’s also difficult for our relationship. We’re going to need work at it each and every day. This is just one, relatively small, bump on the road to what I hope becomes ends with a very happy family.

3 responses

  1. When you’re exhausted, it can sometimes be hard to realize…

    That you can be exhausted and he can be exhausted too…

    That you can be overwhelmed and he can be overwhelmed too..

    That is perfectly reasonable that he or you or both of you may be imperfect…

    Just a thought…

    And the best way to get past it is when you can both give each other permission to be imperfect and work as an imperfect team.



  2. I’m glad you were both able to have a conversation and get some of those feelings out there. My acupuncturist told me several times that you should address things and then move on – there’s no point in holding on. Letting go of all of that frustration more frequently will make you feel better.
    Hopefully you can both reach a happy medium where you’re happy with the level of support you’re getting and he’s okay with what he’s expected to contribute.
    Good luck :).

  3. Oh, wow. Another post I feel like I could have written. One of the things I often self-censor these days is the fights/arguments/bickerings I have with H. But yes. I am *so tired* of the heavy sighs, of the “woe is me, my life is so hard” garbage. I get really angry when we are with friends, and he plays the Good Papa, dandling a child on his knee, and then as soon as we are out of the company of friends, it’s “Ugh, can you take the baby so I can take a nap?” We had another small bicker last night because he can’t eat dinner while holding a baby. Which means I sit and hold two babies while I wait for him to finish eating, and then *still* have to hold at least one baby while I eat (or listen to them both cry while he “watches” them– meaning he places them in a bouncy seat and completley ignores them while he reads or grades papers or does something else, only responding to them when their wails reach Defcon-10…).

    I know that it’s a huge change for him, but I get the idea that he feels like it’s 100% MY change to deal with, and that not only should I constantly be the one to deal with both boys, I should also be at the ready to comfort HIM as he deals with the awfulness of being a new father. UGGGGGGH.

    Anyhow, I’m glad your partner is mature enough to have a discussion with you about it. I wish we could have that in our relationship, but since that’s usually my role and I’m at the end of my bleepin’ rope, I’m finding it harder and harder to “discuss” and not just bicker and fight. Sigh. The joys of new motherhood!

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