If April is the cruelest month, then June is just one big, unforgiving clusterfuck. I won’t whine too much here, because it’s over and we survived and really, how fascinating can delayed flights and illness and rain actually be anyway? When we perish of the swine flu which I am certain has plagued us lo these past two weeks, you will all undoubtedly admire my restraint. (The husband and the in-laws, in particular, for whom my any mention of “fever” or “respiratory distress” elicited glazed looks clearly indicating they think me a hysterical, paranoid neurotic of the worst kind.)
Though I was too tired to post here coherently, not to mention too impatient to do it via my iPhone (nevermind read everyone else’s blogs on its wee screen of cuteness), I did make good use of the Twitter. Staying connected even in that tiny way to all the other crazed parents out there made my own days of isolated hell more bearable. Don’t get me wrong, my in-laws are truly wonderful people, and they very gracefully put up with a LOT from us this trip, but I think they don’t quite get all the fine, uh, nuances of the insanity that is 24/7 parenting.
What I couldn’t figure out what to do with, however, is the seething resentment about all the effing work Monsieur Shriek had to do on our supposed vacation. Initially it was supposed to be about 3 days out of the ten, then at the last minute it changed to more like five. I was disappointed, but respecting that he’s giving his all to something he now hates and that has drained all sense of creativity or enjoyment from him, but pressing on because he is providing for us… well of course I didn’t want to get snarky about that, and kept it to myself.
But another day he had to go in to the office, and another, and another…finally totaling nine. NINE. Out of TEN. I was pissed. I mean, here we were cooped up out of the rain in a house where there are few toys and the ones we brought had long since lost their luster, at least one kid was sick and feverish at all times, and did I mention rain? You know when even the television bores and you’re using your fakey ISN’T THIS EXCITING voice to coerce the kids into watching yet another episode of SuperWhy that the day is long indeed.
Anyway the husband kept working, I tried my best to keep my grumbling about it to myself, but the whole experience cemented my resolve to never go on another work-related “vacation” again. The fact that he never apologized, until the evening of our last day (when, incidentally, he’d said he’d be done by noon but in fact didn’t even contact me until the dinner hour) is probably what rankled most. At one point, one of the in-laws joked that he was using the stress of work to avoid the stress of family. And even now I don’t care to admit how deeply jarring of a revelation that statement was.
It’s been difficult enough sorting out my conflicted feelings about my own work/time/family matrix, and adding my husband’s to the mix seems nearly insupportable. Clearly it’s not about his actual time working — he does it a lot, nothing new there – but about the attitude shift towards the impact it has on his family. Clearly he isn’t concerned with that, or thinks I’m being huffy, entitled, and dramatic (in no particular order). But the fact that now our son is in full-on NO I WANT MOMMY mode should clue him in to the ripple effect his absence has wrought.
How do I honestly but non-accusingly bring up my concerns about his workaholism in a time where he is lucky to even have a job, albeit one he loathes? When he is feeding, clothing, sheltering, and soon schooling (forthcoming post) us with his labors? Is it wrong of me to ask him to try harder to make time for if not me, at least his kids? It is becoming more and more difficult for me to separate the unfortunate realities and requirements of his job from what I am beginning to perceive as his utter indifference towards me and even possibly our children.
By way of example: I caught the kids’ virus and have been feverish and ill since our return; the first day back I forced myself to get groceries, catch up the laundry, and even make a roast chicken dinner, all while juggling the kids. Did he notice, or ask how I was feeling (clearly rotten, as evidenced by tissues and cough drop wrappers littering my staggering wake)? No. He simply complained that I had stuffed the poultry cavity with lemons. OK then!
This is the part where I start wondering about affairs (hello Argentina!), and the seemingly thin and manageable cracks in our marriage start to look more like a peeling veneer. Granted, he has his issues with me (and I’ll freely admit to several of them even being valid), but even so, some simple interest in how I’m feeling would go a long way on the resentment reduction plan. I make a point to always ask about his day, listen to his tales of workplace woe and frustration, and register appreciation for him sticking with it for our sakes. Even the barest minimum of reciprocity would make me feel valued in my diminished capacity as housewife, child-rearer and sometimes-contributor to our household finances.
When I started this blog it was my intention to charmingly and cleverly discuss my trials and tribulations as a part-time, work-at-home mom, offering refreshing and funny insights into a world that is so familiar and yet so confounding to many of us. What I didn’t intend on doing was discussing anything in the deepest recesses of my marital turf, particularly the unpleasantries, but I’ve since realized I simply can’t do what I set out to without referencing the uglies at least in part. Part of the reason I’ve kept things anonymous is so I could be truthful without the worry of hurting anyone – it’s time to run this stained, white flag up the pole and see if anyone else recognizes it or even better, airs their own issues. And if I end up hoisting myself by my own petard, well, at least I’ll be the only one who knows.