The topic of husband bashing has been on my mind lately.
But, let us call it Indirect Spousal Criticism, or I.S.C., instead. Husband bashing sounds petty and violent, like hitting your hubby over the head with a grill pan because he doesn’t make the bed.
This is probably a little dangerous of me to write. And probably a bit stupid. My husband will read this at some point. But I know there are readers who agree with me, and others, especially single moms, who might think me an ungrateful so-and-so who should get back in her handbasket and make a return trip to you know where.
Let me say that I love my husband dearly. He is a great guy and a fantastic father. Barring work obligations, he is home every night before 6:30 p.m. to help with the witching hours. Yep, just gets home for the point in evening when the kids act like they are on crack and you have a strong urge to survey the scene from the sofa, drinking wine straight from the bottle. He regularly takes Riley for super fun outings like riverboat tours, museums and to the lake. He’ll grapple with Aria’s 19th nap put down of the afternoon. When I am sick he picks up the slack so I can sleep. He continually compliments my ability to seemingly do it all.
So what is my problem? I ask myself the same thing, as I prepare to hop in that handbasket.
Like most mothers, I am the C.O.O.; I want things done a certain way. My way. I remember seeing a gentleman on the Today show promoting his book. His premise was that today’s Dad is a far cry from the do-little father of the 60s. Today’s Dad makes an effort, so even though he might not do it your way, Mom, you should let him do his share. Children benefit from seeing partnership and different ways of going about things.
Okay. Makes sense. I’m not perfect and my systems may need some tweaking. And I’ll admit that the baby has fallen off the bed on my watch, too. But when John decides to watch a game and Riley draws on the wall, or when our home smells like one giant diaper because of delayed garbage removal, this different strokes stuff is very hard to swallow.
So running to the phone I go, to vent.
My problem is I want another me. I want someone who once he’s home lives by the fast food rule. Not the one in The Happiest Toddler on the Block. The one that goes, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” Being home these days is constantly supervising, cleaning, cooking, straightening up; it’s a perpetual game of whack-a-mole. Going out is no picnic either. Just getting out of the house with two little ones can be an ordeal, and no trip out is complete without bringing stuff in - diapers, wipes, milk, something we ran out of between big shopping trips. Sometimes it’s too much to have to ask, delegate or negotiate. I want someone who picks up where I left off, and who knows my system. Someone who does something about the fact that the contents of the kids’ hampers could fill a Mini-Cooper. Someone who sees what needs to be done and just does it.
I might sound a bit petulant, but here’s the thing. We both work. I work part-time. When I come home I’m instantly plunged into mommy duty as well. Yes, I do spend more time at home with my children than John does, and while there are some fun, sweet, silly times, there is constant vigilance in terms of maintaining safety and schedules. Frankly, it is easier to be at work, where I am only responsible for myself. Resentment brews because I feel that my share of the housework is like pushing a boulder up a hill, while John’s duties have a sanctioned cut-off because he has to work.
And yes, his losing his job would be a debacle. I KNOW this, but sometimes, when I feel particularly overworked, I would love just the pretense of being asked if I need help. Is that so wrong?
Everyone knows the classic line, “You complete me,” that Tom Cruise says to Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. When I was younger, less of a snarky cynic and looking for HIM, this line made me yearn for my soul mate, the one who began where I ended. Perpetually finishing each other’s sentences (in a good way), we’d be in each other’s heads and live happily ever after. Of course, this is totally unrealistic. And the "you complete me” idea is just as unrealistic where housework and childcare are concerned. We have different things we need to get done, different ways of seeing the house (where is the pill that makes you blind to dirt and clutter?), and we are both exhausted. But completing domestic tasks should be more feasible, not to mention more practical and obvious, than fairy tale love, shouldn’t it? Perhaps that’s why in a marriage where little kids are the focus, unfinished chores can be far more disappointing than the absence of constant earth-shattering romance.
Now, as far Indirect Spousal Criticism is concerned, it would be better to confront the problem directly. But that would mean constant fighting. Instead, I choose my battles with hubby, and save the small stuff for my girls. It’s my pals who give me perspective - letting me know whether I should get over it or get on with a “talk.” Personally, I think I.S.C is a godsend. Otherwise there might be a lot more hasty calls to lawyers and movers because of some unwashed dishes.