Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Called Gratitude. And That's Right.

I was just reading through a discussion thread about relationship dissatisfaction on a facebook group for moms and I came away feeling so relieved about my own situation.  To hear other moms talk about their partners you can't help but wonder why they chose to have a child with them.  Unless they suddenly became stupid, insensitive, and incompetent over night.  "I don't understand.  Before we had a child my partner was completely competent.  Now he's the biggest blithering idiot I've ever seen.  And his penis is also smaller."  I appreciate that we're all tired and hormonal.  And I appreciate that women like to complain about their spouses when we get in groups (The same way men like to talk about sports, I guess.  Stereotypes are FUN!).  I also appreciate how hard it is to have a baby under the best circumstances and many of us are dealing with other major life stresses.  It just makes me sad to hear how much new parents seem to fight (If self-reporting is to be trusted.) when they need each other more than ever with a new baby to take care of.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not Suzy Sunshine, but this whole experience has really changed my perspective about a lot of things.  From the beginning, when Monty has been "difficult", as hard as it is, I find myself thanking my lucky stars that he's not colicky or worse.  Yes, it's hard, but it could be so much worse.  Case in point, we saw a baby in stroller today hooked up to an oxygen tank...  Yes, we're on a pretty tight budget, but we have a great apartment in a safe, beautiful neighborhood, with two cars, and Kurt has a decent job.  It could be a lot worse.  Yes, Kurt is at the laundromat today doing three weeks worth of laundry (when we could be spending time together) because we don't have a washer/dryer.  But we turn on the tap and drinkable water comes out of it.  So, how can I really complain?  True, I have no idea how I'm going to get my career going again and I feel like I'm dug into a hole that just keeps getting deeper, but I've had a few jobs already since Monty was born and work will come and at least I don't have to work at McDonalds.  I hope.

Kurt and I have had a couple blow outs.  I called him an asshole the other day.  But I think about how much harder this would be without him and I apologize promptly and he does, too and we move on.  We don't try to one up each other over whose life is harder.  Yes, I'm home with Monty all the time and it's exhausting and challenging, but Kurt has to go to a job he hates and be away from us so that we have money to eat and live.  What's the point in comparing?  We're both doing what we need to do to raise our child to be a healthy, caring, smart person.

Also, it bears mentioning that Kurt and I were BROKEN UP when I found out I was pregnant.  We didn't even MEAN to have a kid together.  But we have him and we both recognize how important we are to each other and to our child.

Everywhere we look we're being conditioned to see the "opposite" sex as our enemy.  It turns out that woman are not from Venus and men are not from Mars.  There doesn't HAVE to be a battle of the sexes.  There's enough competition in the work place.  Let's try to keep that shit out of our personal lives.  We're all just doing the best we can with what we have and we could all do with a little slack-cutting.  Especially when it comes to the father of our children.  This whole "Ugh, just let me do it!" mentality that I hear a lot of women express is demeaning.  Let your partner be a partner in the raising of your child.  If you're the one going to the parenting classes (because he or she is working), share what you learn so that your partner can be on the same page.  That way, and I know this is going to sound INSANE, but that way, you don't have to feel like you have to do everything yourself.  Instead of complaining that your partner doesn't have to get up every time the baby does to feed it, ask him to give the baby a bottle once or twice at night.  If your baby doesn't take a bottle, ask your partner to sit up with you while you feed the baby.  Tell him you need the emotional support.  If he refuses, maybe he wasn't the best person to have a baby with?  Your partner doesn't put your baby's diaper on the way you think it's supposed to be put on?  How about you show him how you like it done.  OR, let him diaper the kid the way he thinks it should be done.  If the kid doesn't piss and shit all over himself and his circulation isn't being cut off, MAYBE his method of diapering is not stupid and wrong and "YOU'RE SO USELESS!!!!!"  Equal parenting is a wild concept, I know, but I bet most of our partners are a lot better at parenting than we give them credit for.

Please understand, I am not saying that I never feel sorry for myself or sit on the couch and cry or fantasize about running away from home.  I do.  A lot.  This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  But what I try not to do is take it out on Kurt.  I know it's the hardest thing he's ever had to do, too.  And I know he's a man and expresses himself differently than I do.  But it doesn't mean that he's not freaking out and occasionally wanting to run away from home, too.  It's just, we went into this together, we might as well try to act like a team.

The next time your partner is being insensitive or stupid or lazy, think about where you would be without him or her.  Take a deep breath.  Take a bath.  Have a couple fingers of scotch.  And sit down and talk like grown-ups.  You already have an actual baby in the house no need to behave like one.  (If you need to have a tantrum, have a tantrum.  Then apologize to the person you chose to have a child with.  The person you love enough to have made another human being with.)

Unless he really is a useless sack of shit.  In which case, kick him to curb and move on.