I had a hilarious email conversation with a friend a few days ago. She is in her first year of motherhood, so I'm letting her in on all the trade secrets. No one can tell how much TV your kids watch. Oreos are often times acceptable breakfast. It's ok to wish your coffee was spiked at 6:30 in the morning. You know the important stuff. Well the other night via Facebook message she had a major confession...
I snap at my husband ALL the time! Am I crazy? It's like he can't do anything right! Then I feel guilty. Is this normal or am I just a horrible wife?
Talk about LMAO. I did actually LOL, because this is still going on in my house hold to date. I still snap at John. He still snaps at me. However, I shared with her some of the things I've learned about fatherhood. It's just like motherhood. There is no right way or wrong way, there is only YOUR way to do your best. In your husband's case there is only HIS way to do his best. For better or worse I'll take it. Extra hands, mean happy kids, and me being able to enjoy Glee uninterrupted.
The first thing I learned as a mother is that fathers cannot hear their children cry. Even if their wife is standing over them, with said baby in arms, while the baby screams like 16 year olds at a Justin Bieber concert, said father will not move. True story. I was up with Caitlin for the umpteenth time. She was like 4 months. I just wanted a break. I stood there for 5 minutes, then shook him for another 3... His bleary eyed "what?" was all I needed to confirm, that when world war three breaks out at least me and the kids will be underground. You'll find the hubby in the bed. It's not on purpose. I blame the umbilical cord, which somehow is still attached after birth and continually lets you know if your child is crying, hungry, sad, etc. Dads are without said cord... Not his fault.
As a mom, I've learned to tune out a lot. I mean A LOT. However, there have been times where I'm in the kitchen, and John is home but not visible. I'll be making dinner and one child is yelling while turning in circles about ballet and My Little Ponies and why can't we have chocolate for dinner. The other one is LITERALLY trying to crawl up my body using some kind of superhuman baby strength, and I'm just trying to reach the microwave with my incredibly short arms. That's when the yelling starts, and then my favorite line to use (remember my sarcastic nature) "Hello - am I the only parent in this HOUSE?" Not me at my best, for sure, but he can seriously tune this crap out. However, I'm sure that comes from years of marriage practice of tuning me out... OR if I'm going to be honest, maybe he just didn't hear the little people striking like teamsters in the kitchen.
Many times we snap at Dad because he's not doing it right. You didn't put the diaper on right, mix the formula right, cut the chicken nuggets right. Guess what? He's not doing this wrong. He's just not doing it YOUR way. This was such a hard lesson for me to learn. I nagged and bitched and used my sarcastic whit, and guess what happened? John said fine since you do it better DO IT YOURSELF. Crap! So now, I just let him do it his way. Because John bathing the girls means I'm on Facebook or blogging, or even better doing NOTHING!
An important lesson learned was the power of honesty and clarity. You have to be honest with expectations. For both of you. What do you expect? What does he expect? Where do those two come together? BE CLEAR. Here is a little glimpse on the clarity issue:
John and I ask each other to do favors all the time. Hey will you do me a favor and wash my work pants? Hey will you do me a favor and empty the dish washer? Hey can you change that poop diaper, because if I have to change another one today I will seriously slit my own throat... You get the picture. What I learned is I have to tell John that I want it done, tonight, or in the next hour, or next five minutes (not about the poop of course, we don't suck that much as parents). I've explained to John, if I'm asking it's because it needed to be done 5 minutes ago, but the universe/environment/screaming poopy kids made it impossible. So I've let him know if I ask it's because I really want it done now, and if you aren't going to do it now just let me know and I'll do it myself...
Ok, so to the average reader this may sound harsh and a little crazy, but I assure you this is how me and the Mr. roll. It's really changed the way we tackle these favors. You know why? If he tells me he's not actually going to empty the dishwasher and reload it, I'll know I'll do it, eventually, and it will slide for the moment. If it's not bothering him, then why is it eating me alive. Let's be honest here, who really WANTS to unload/reload the dishwasher? Like that scene out of the Break-Up when Vince Vaughn tell Jen Aniston that he doesn't WANT to clean up. It's the same. I'm tired from being the ringleader of the circus going down in my living room. John is tired from working all day in support of my Target addiction.
It's a nice change from what used to happen after he would say he WOULD empty/reload said dishwasher, and then forget/get side tracked before it actually got done. What used to happen is I'd walk into the kitchen in the morning, say a few choice curse words, and then call him and say "So those dishes that you loaded got out last night and dirtied themselves right back into the sink? How e-ffed is that?". Yes, that's kind of a true story too. Such honesty might not work for everyone, but it works for us. Bottom line: Clarity is key in any situation, especially parenting.
Finally out of all the lessons learned on my parenting journey so far is that it really is about teamwork. Teamwork and compromise. I couldn't do this without him. Sure, I'll say, yeah I got this, but in reality, I couldn't. And I don't want to. Who else am I going to share this comedy of errors with? Who is going to have my back during an epic battle of wills at Target with the Grand Supreme? Who is going to laugh at their one year old as she tries to scale the entertainment center? Their father that's who.
So yes, we snap. Sometimes more times than not. My marriage, much like my parenting style is far from perfect. In marriage, just like motherhood, there are no wrongs, there are no rights. As long as you do it together. For now John and I will do it this way, because for us, it's the only way... Until we are snapping about something else. It will happen. I'll keep you posted.