Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Best Intentions -- By Laura Houston

Something happens to a husband the very day he becomes a father. He makes the horrible mistake of trying to be more thoughtful. Whereas this may sound like a noble thing, it only causes more work for the new mother. I know. This very transition happened to my husband. He went from being my sweet, romantically bumbling, laid back, casual husband to being a driven, conscientious, Super Dad and Uber-husband. And it’s completely annoying.

Now, keep in mind he has the best intentions. I know this. I remind myself of this all the time. But there’s a reason why William Blake said the road to hell is paved with them. The best of intentions don’t guarantee the best of outcomes.

Allow me to give you an example: My husband and I are ready to get out the door with the boys, the stroller, and the 20 pounds of gear required to enjoy an afternoon at the park. I realize I forgot my watch and lip balm, so I sprint back into the apartment.

Overly Thoughtful Husband thinks: I’ll give her some time to herself so she doesn’t have to rush, and I’ll go ahead and take the boys down to the lobby and wait for her there.

The reality: I am out of the apartment and dashing toward the elevator just as the doors are closing. Now I either need to just walk the 12 stories down to the lobby or wait for the elevator to return, which can be lengthy since we live in an old building and there is only one elevator in our tower, so waiting can sometimes take up to five or ten minutes. It’s faster to walk, so I take the stairs down, and I scold him when I see him. I explain that it is an inconvenience to me when he doesn’t wait, and that it hurts my feelings.

He doesn’t understand why I am frustrated after running down 12 flights of stairs carrying a diaper bag, my purse, and a blanket, so he’s defensive. He thought he was being helpful.

Another example: He wants to engage in conversations to stimulate communication, so at 8:30 at night when my brain has only six cells still functioning, so he asks rhetorical questions like this: "If you were raised in a different country, what do you think your life would be like?"

The reality: That’s a big question. My first thought is: "What country? And then, would I still be a girl? Would I be white? Would I be poor? What religion?" I stop to think for a second, and then I can’t remember what I was doing even though I have a big basket of laundry in my arms. I cannot hide my annoyance when I say, “I don’t know.”

He therefore feels hurt and dejected, and I am a bitch.

OK. Truthfully, I probably say something closer to: “What the hell kind of question is that? How am I supposed to answer that? What are my perimeters? What country? What is it you need to know, honey? Why are you asking me this?”

Ah. I pine for the days when he could go weeks without asking me how I was doing.

My husband also seeks connection. He wants me to slow down, give him my undivided attention, be romantic and sweet. Unfortunately, his timing to achieve said bonding usually occurs at the same time the boys need to be changed, fed, bathed, and I haven’t had so much as a bite to eat all day, or he tries at 10:00 at night when my mascara has welded my eyes shut, and my neck won’t move. He’s genuinely friendly and sincere when he tries to find out what I want from life, but all I can think of at 11:00 at night is this: “I still have 17 years before the boys go off to college, so I better get them into a good preschool by reading to them every day, and, shoot, I forgot to read to them today because Lyle threw up in the stroller and Wyatt destroyed the book I was reading, making a huge mess all around, so should I go wake them up and read them Are You My Mother? It’s their favorite. I think.”

It’s a safe bet to say my husband feels just as irritated and frustrated by my changes in motherhood as I do with his in fatherhood. Fortunately, we are strong together. I don’t always know how it works – how I can be so irritated with someone whom I never want to go a day without.

Yeah. I know. Welcome to motherhood. I have nothing but the best intentions.

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Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Hey Laura! Want to borrow MY husband for a few days? He's never around, so he can't bother you! But the alternative is that you don't have that "extra pair of hands" when you need them.

As they say, "Be happy with what you have!" The grass is not always greener on the other side!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

LOL. So well put Laura. It's like the two of you, have to learn the "dance of parenting" when you were able "slow dance" yourselves for the years preceding. That's not uncommon. I hear ya about not always being on the same wavelength. But, at least he's present (when he's not traveling) and aiming to please. That's more than some husbands who are missing in action much of the time.

8:59 AM  

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