Wednesday, April 1

turned tables

i was kind of expecting it to happen. maybe not this early and maybe without such intensity. we had THAT conversation. The one from my past which is so intensely linked to mothering and meaning and self and now i see clearly is linked to parenting and meaning and self. Simon had been a bit mopey and a bit aloof for about a week and despite asking him about his withdrawn behaviour nothing of note was forthcoming, until 'the blow up' and out it came
words and emotions describing and evoking all the feelings which surround the hidden work of mothering, but they didnt come from me. They came from him.

cant get anything done
need you to do more around the house
feel like im doing it all
i'm just going around and around in circles
cant get anything done
i feel really isolated
you get to go to work and have stimulation and creativity
need you to do more around the house
cant get anything done
i feel frustrated and stuck

wow. It kind of threw me.

identical words and emotions to the ones i had for years, the downside to being a stay home parent. The thankless nature of it all ( the housework bit ). We both acknowledge the joys of it but the drudgery of another load of washing and the running around and cleaning up after everyone. What made this conversation really interesting for me was the unbridled reaction i had to first hearing his feelings. "Im doing all i can, jesus you want me to do more!" and "i felt like that for years, its just what its like, comes with the territory, tough, suck it up buddy, you get more from me than i ever got. I come home from work and take the boy, play with him, give him a bath, often cooking dinner after I have put him to bed! and YOU WANT ME TO DO MORE!!!"

Needless to say i said none of this. Coz underneath it all i really DO understand how isolating, draining, thankless it is and how you just need a little more support to keep doing it in a positive frame of mind; to be able to parent with love. So i was so pleased to be able to give him a hug and say "i know, i do understand and I will do more". It was really hard to do this without the defensive self justification coming out, telling him what i already do and how dare he ask for extra flesh.

But, i just knew for the sake of the relationship and basically, to just act like a grown up, i had to draw on my experiences, my empathy if i wanted a positive outcome. I had to do for him what i had always wanted done for me but never ever got when i was with my ex husband. So ive been working like a maniac for the last few days, steam cleaning rugs and couches, cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms and making sure i make the bed every morning before work.

Yesterday when i was leaving with the boy on a market adventure, he said he was lucky to have me. I felt the same. When its good, its so good but you really do have to work at it. Having had one relationship go arse up, im not about to let it happen to another.


Anonymous said...

If only every stay at home parent had a partner like you!

The hard won lessons at this house are:
1. Assume that getting something tangible done during the day is a bonus
2. Keep looking for ways to include the kid in what you want to get done, slings are quite handy for that

Once I'd worked out how to get stuff done with the kid around, I found it quite frustrating that the Bloke hadn't worked this out also. He has now. Yesterday they were bottling beer together. I think I managed to get it through to the Bloke by demonstrating how putting the dishes away could constitute entertainment for a baby if you spent the whole time explaining what each thing was and where it went. Slower than putting dishes away solo, but if you wait til he's not there you'll be wasting precious non-parenting time.

Good luck, to both of you!

Suzanne said...

Beautifully written. What insight!

Rest is not idleness said...

Having no children I can't comment on that part, but the housework part I can, yes, it is thankless, and the neverending drudgery of it.
You are so right you do have to work at it, from both sides.

Lisa Barrett said...

Please get Simon to get in touch with Jeremy. I'm on a rad fem site that says all this is the Patriachy and it doesn't count because I have such and important job and I'm a woman.

I don't think it's patriachy but just the roles we take on.

I work hard, and often I come home and I'm exhausted, drained. I do little or no house work and not much cooking or shopping if I can avoid it.

I hear this stuff from Jem on occasions too.


Annuska said...

You guys are so lovely to each other. such a nice role model for your kids. Be proud!

Kel said...

ICG- thanks...truth be known i do have flaws! but whats expereince if you dont use it?

Suzanne - thanks and i iworked out who you are!!!! doh. your name doesnt link to your website!

Pip - yup, written plan for responsibilities coming up!

Lisa- yeah, its the roles not the blokes! but if si gets in touch with jeremy you'll have a mutiny on your hands! theyll incite each other to mutiny! we do what we can get away with - how true! lol

annuska - thanks, unfortunately sometimes the modelling goes unseen and you just appear to 'get along'; the hard work goes unnoticed. It does pay to have constructive discussions in front of the kids so they can see what a health 'argument' looks like- one that gets resoloution for both sides!

Karin said...

Amen to that sista! It's all hard work isn't it. I'm glad you were able to respond using thought over reaction. It takes some serious skills to do that!

kale for sale said...

This made me all teary eyed. It's that love thing I guess. You conveyed it beautifully. Thank you.