So someone, a few months ago, asked what I was up to and I responded, “Wrangling children and my sanity.” They responded, “So just doing the mom thing, huh?” Obviously their own mother didn’t wrangle so well because they failed them by raising an asshole. Did I say that though? NO! Because my mother didn’t raise an asshole (thank you, mom!) and part of me, the idiot part that’s insecure, agreed; because, the message that motherhood doesn’t matter is so pervasive that I have trouble believing that what I do truly has importance on most days.
This is probably, largely, what lead up to me taking my ambivalence towards the asshole acquaintance out on my husband like any normal dysfunctional adult. He was taking the kids downstairs to play and said, “Ok, come on guys. Mama needs a BREAK.” Suddenly I wanted to break things and take a break from being calm and diplomatic, from being responsible, constantly “up and on” as a friend says, or a break from the “relentlessness” of it all as another says, and I wanted to take a break from my senses. I bit back my words and waited till later. The ensuing “discussion” covered, but was not limited to, the following topics: breaks, the default parent, sharing of chores, and why the hell our son is so goddamn loud. (The last topic is still a mystery.)
The real irritation, and underlying theme to all of this, is feeling drained, put upon, and exhausted. But what are you to do when both parents feel this way? And is it just part of the territory as parents of young children? How do you fix what seems to be an impass when resources are limited (physical, financial, and otherwise)? When both of you feel emotionally depleted and physically pained from lack of sleep and broken bodies, what then?
Our marriage is flawed like all of them and under construction more often than Highway 26 and is overdue for repairs more than my recalled Honda. But we do have some tried and true lifesaving tools that work for us: humor, alcohol, food, and our shared dislike and agreement on certain topics. What does that look like? We wait for the kids to go to sleep, we make a cocktail, bust out the contraband food, and put on a funny movie or show. That could be Tom Papa, Jim Gaffigan, or the Daily Show. Doesn’t matter how old the show but it has to make us both laugh so we forget the trenches of parenting for a moment and remember our shared joy in laughing at idiocy.
When Nora was a colicky baby and we couldn’t hear anything, much less ourselves while she screamed for four plus hours every evening for the first four months, we would watch Wipe Out and laugh with glee at others being physically tortured. It was like a fucked up Nuremberg version of our reality.
It got so bad that we stalked the neighborhood in the evening to meter out the punishment of her screams on everyone but our immediate douchebag neighbors that retaliated with beaming lights in to our windows. (Yeah, can’t wait for them to have their first spawn next month.)
We even had neighbors come out to meet us on the sidewalk as we walked by with her in the stroller or carrier as we were trying to coax her to sleep.
“Aren’t you going to do something about that?!”
Why do you think we’re walking her? We ARE doing something about it. At least we were until some asinine windbag stopped to ask us a self-explanatory question.
“That baby is SO SAD!”
She is now that she met you.
“Why don’t you nurse her?”
Because I’m busy aiming at you to practice for the zombie apocalypse.
“Have you tried swaddling her?”
Much like those that have tried bagging your head to fuck you – NO. We just stand around looking at her helplessly waiting for her real parents to come get there kid.
“You need to give up dairy…yeah, I’ve heard that cry before, hmmm…”
Yeah, you’re much more skilled and experienced with babies than ourselves because you’ve raised…wait, how many kids? None?!
Guess what, assholes? We’ve heard all of it, and read all about it, on that new fangled, fucking thing called the IN-TER-NET. Much like suffering all of you, there is no cure for a baby crying inconsolably other than a condom about nine to ten months prior to their creation. Oddly, much like most male Christians, you’re not there to help once the offending party arrives in the world, but I digress…where was I? Oh yeah, I need some sleep.