April 15, 2007

Marriage, a house and two kids

Why is it that when you are young and dream of "marriage, a house and two kids", it seems so easy and idyllic and shiny? I just find myself struggling with this lately, trying to find the balance.

1) I'm the mom to two little girls, both of whom need my undivided attention almost all the time, sometimes even when they are sleeping and I may wish I was sleeping.
2) I'm the homemaker to a rather large house with 4 people's laundry, dishes and bathrooms to clean, plus a huge amount of toys to keep track of, and daily meals to prepare, serve and clean up after.
3) I'm the wife to a wonderful husband and father, which entails way more work and maintenance than I EVER would have thought possible as a little girl playing with dolls.

My hubbie tends to be passive aggressive. Instead of just telling me he's beat and wishes I would do the dishes more/the laundry more/pick up the toys/etc, he just gets quieter and quieter and does EVERYTHING before I have a chance to blink, much less step in of my own free will. And me, I'm the denial type; I'll just pretend that it's fine that my kids laundry has built an empire in the laundry room and is planning the downfall of the rest of the house, and I'll take the first peaceful moment to read my book for a bit or catch up on my Tivo.

Tonight we had a chat. A State of the Union. I finally got it out of him that he wishes I'd figure out how to do more around the house, and I finally told him that the whole stomping around in "silent" martyrdom was driving me insane. You could hear the deep breaths around the block as the tension finally started to ease out of the room. For the first time in our marriage, we've had to actually sit, talk and divvy up responsibilities. We had to sit there and decide on what few things were the most important to each of us and try and figure out a way to start making those things happen. For him, having a clean kitchen every morning and getting back to the gym on a regular schedule were high on the list. For me, having him give up his "silent protests" (AKA, pout-fest 2007) and getting him to come to bed before 1 A.M. were right up there, too.

Sitting here now, with the important things, big and small, aknowledged and made known, makes me realize once again how much of my happiness rests, balances, on communication. If we hadn't talked about the housework tonight, the whole week would have continued in a downward spiral, probably culminating in a weepy fight where I felt taken for granted and he felt overburdened and we both felt misunderstood. Instead, he joked about his passive aggressive behavior ("Umm... by the way, when you go upstairs... sorry about dumping your laundry in a pile on the floor.") and we both laughed, decided on some goals to put more focus on, and felt better and more respected all around.

The thing is, it doesn't get easier. It just gets more complicated; the details change, but there's always going to be this disconnect. I wish there was a road map to show me how to balance two kids and house and a marriage, but it's just a day to day thing, isn't it? It seems ridiculous and absurd that, in the constant struggle to stay connected, something like who does the dishes after dinner could get in the way, but that's the honest reality. I'm not sure when my definition of romance changed from flowers and candlelight to , "Oh, look! He emptied the diaper pail! That's so sweet!".

I want to find the balance. I want to be the best mother that I can to my kids, get the laundry done, keep the groceries stocked, have dinner on the table at night and still find a way to take a shower and be presentable and smile at my husband and maybe, just maybe, remember what we had in common before we had children. Not that we don't have things in common now, but... sometimes the easiest thing to see about the other person is what's missing, what's left undone, instead of what's right in front of you, invisible in it's obviousness.

Instead of resenting the burden of it, I have to remember to appreciate the achievement of a childhood fantasy: A wonderful marriage, a beautiful home and two amazing kids.

No comments: