Saturday, July 10, 2010

Date Night Disaster

Last night Husband and I went to dinner and I spent some of it crying and some of it angry. This seems par for the course since our first dinner out after we had Ned and Penny I was crying about breastfeeding.

While the sleep deprivation hasn't helped my mental state here are the things I've found myself upset over:

1. Time alone. The hardest part about having a nanny is that I am getting no down time. This sounds ridiculous but let me explain. If I'm not feeding Josie then I feel like I have to be with Ned and Penny since I'm not going to get a chance to be with them this much in the future once I go back to work. Our nanny also often wants me to come up with activities and do them with her. That I should be carting Josie to the twins' early intervention playgroup and music class, going on playdates, to the zoo, etc. and it is hard to say no. Then I'm trying to rush our nanny out the door at 5 pm to save some money on overtime and then I have to deal with infant clusterfeeding and cranky toddlers during the witching hour before Husband gets home - assuming he isn't traveling. To try to avoid being home I've been doing a million errands much of which involve the grocery store and cooking which of course decreases my downtime because after all the kids are in bed I'm preparing a meal and then getting to bed way too late (usually around 11 pm, with Josie up at 1 am, 4 am, 6 am and me not easily getting back to sleep). I'm also trying to get things done while I'm on leave - we have some home repairs I'm overseeing, car repairs, finding a lawyer for estate planning, the list goes on.

I decided I am going to ask my mom if I can spend 2-3 days a week at my parents' house that is about 15 miles away. I'll bring my laptop, maybe even buy some groceries and just stay there until 3 pm. The downside is that they have no central air and my little brother is often home (he's been unemployed for over a year). This might mean I can even nap - would you believe that I haven't had a nap in almost a month? They also have a fully loaded home gym and this way I won't have to stress about leaving Josie with April while I try to work out at a real gym. Maybe I can even find a personal trainer who will come to their house.

2. Lack of appreciation. My "management" personality is to provide praise and encouragement; Husband's is not. So while I am giving him kudos often for how great he is with Ned and Penny, the work he puts into managing our bills/finances and other things I don't ever get the same encouragement. As I explained to Husband I usually get that with my deal closings but now that I'm not working he needs to provide some of that validation since obviously if you are looking for validation toddlers and infants won't be providing you with much. I want him to appreciate all the efforts I go to organizing things, making dinner, grocery shopping, keeping our house picked up, doing his laundry, and other "homey" items.

3. Growing up. Husband is a slob. And I've reached my limit. Normally I can block it out since I'm at work so much and I'd rather not argue about it the small amount of time I see him each day. But I'm at home all the time and it surrounds me and I want to pull my hair out over his inability to be an adult about his possessions: the dirty laundry that is right next to the laundry basket instead of in it, the shoes he leaves everywhere for me and the kids to trip over, the dishes that never, ever, ever get into the dishwasher, the many glasses of water he leaves in the bedroom, well, you get the picture. In fact - here is visible proof of what I live with - our home office. Husband's response is that he isn't going to change and I have to just deal with it. But that isn't an acceptable answer. It cannot be that I have to pick up after FOUR children instead of the three I gave birth to. While Nanny April does a lot to pick up after him we won't have a nanny forever and he needs to act like a 34 year old adult instead of a fraternity brother. Of course we didn't talk in the car ride home and when we did get home Husband took his shoes off and left them in the middle of the path to the front door two feet from the shoe rack I purchased and set up so that he could put his shoes out of the way. If his parents hadn't been there I would have chucked his damn shoes at him.

We haven't discussed this again but I have been angry and upset enough that I had a million dreams last night arguing with him about his lack of consideration for his possessions, our house, himself and most importantly, ME! Apparently my spleen continues to need venting since I'm taking this to the Internet.

Many months ago I tried to get him on board with meeting with and paying someone to help us get organized and he refused. I view this as I do marriage counseling - if you think you want to divorce and you have kids you can't say no to marriage counseling, it isn't an option. I don't think Husband can say no to my demands that he pick up after himself. I don't want our house and our lives to sink to the lowest common denominator. I don't want to feel like I am treading water and just surviving but to feel organized and in charge and a clean, de-cluttered house would go a long way.

What do you all think? Am I being unreasonable to expect him to pick up his possessions and put them away? To figure out a way that he will do so? Right now all I can think of is to treat him like a child and starting "throwing out" (hiding) items that he leaves around the house until he learns; but I don't want to treat my husband, my partner and co-parent as a child.

14 comments:

Sarah said...

I just found your blog through another...I'm also in Boston with twins (7 mos) and a 2.5 year old son.

I've always thought 'I'll never change' is a cop-out. It shows lack of willingness to compromise, and that's a big part of marriage. He CAN change, he just WON'T because its easier for him not to. At the same time, there can be a middle ground...it doesn't have to be spotless, but something as basic as throwing laundry in the bin rather than the floor is a simple change.

My husband is also a slob, but he's met me somewhat halfway...he is now better at putting his shoes in the closet, putting the dishes away rather than leaving them in the sink, etc. What I told him was: when he left them out he was telling me that he expected me to put them away...and I was not his maid. After awhile, he got better.

Julia said...

No, you are not. As much as I sympathize for disorganized people - being one myself - there is no excuse when you have three small kids at home.

However, it is a mind exercise and it is hard to change, I understand Husband's resistance. At least for me, this attitude comes a long way, from childhood, when these issues were not addressed properly in the family, so there are fears and anger and other deep emotions related to this stuff. And, of course, the fear of assuming you're a grown up and there is no one to look after you any longer.

We are both moderately slobby here, but we pick after one another and ourselves regularly enough not to make the other feel overwhelmed. My husband can be a bit OCD about some things, which may sound weird. He likes order, but finds it extremely hard to think about organization and take initiatives such as buying a shoe rack, for instance, so that is usually my job.

When we started to compromise on some rules (before kids), we defined some basic ones that were easy to follow, i.e. - no dishes in the sink after 12p.m., or before going to bed, then we alternated dish washing days, later only he did it because I hate it and prefer to do all the cooking. Now we just go with the flow - the house is never fully picked unless there is help, but we alternate doing what is urgent while the other watches the babies.

Anonymous said...

You are doing a great job- hire a housekeeper to come in and help you. It will be worth the sanity and happiness it brings you. Twice a month is not a huge financial burden and it will make you happier- and that means everyone is happier.

Mommy, Esq. said...

Anon at 12:11 - we have someone who cleans our house twice a month - this dispute isn't about cleaning but rather picking up on a daily basis the "stuff" that accumulates. I have no issue dealing with my stuff and kids stuff - just Husband's own items.

cynthia said...

Of the two of us (me and my husband) I'm definitely guilty of leaving more clutter around the house, so coming from that perspective, maybe it's more helpful for you to gently remind him in a normal voice/tone when you witness a clutter moment (e.g., "Can you put that away, rather than leave it on the table?") rather than have it mount to fights every few months. I suggest this because every once in a while husband huffs, "Our house is too small! We have too much stuff and it's a mess!" and I get very defensive. Since I can't immediately pick up at that moment, it feels like an unnecessary and completely unexpected attack. I hate it. Especially since most of the piles are FAMILY related and not just Cynthia related (e.g., bills, folding the laundry) and so if he was really that upset he should fire me from those jobs, take on the tasks and make the house spick and span - BE MY GUEST!!!

More playdates at my house or offsite!! I can't do Tuesday, but I think I could do Monday AM (I have a doctor appt. at 4pm or Wednesday). I need to return some stuff at the mall if you want to walk the mall on Monday -- I could come to Burlington.

Stacey said...

Being home all the time is very stressful. So definitely give yourself a break and use Mom and Dad's house! When I was home during maternity leave I cleaned CONSTANTLY because I was there ALL THE TIME. At least Jeremy is really, really good (better than me) about picking stuff up. But we had many arguments about getting a cleaning service when I went back to work. He is grudgingly on board but I don't think he realizes how much less stress it is on our relationship to have someone else doing a deep clean and us just spot cleaning. You also need to make sure you get lots of quality bonding time in with Josie. So don't feel bad about leaving Ned and Penny! They love their nanny and are used to you working so just remember it's your guilt, not their blaming you.

Nicole S. said...

Gosh Kristin - that sucks :( What does A. think the "solution" should be? That if you care, you should do it? That certain things should just go undone?

I certainly don't think you're being unreasonable. I understand that it's hard to change because I am not a naturally neat person. I grew up in a very messy, cluttered environment and so clutter doesn't always bother me. But there is a part of me that "grew up" and can't handle the mess. It's also important to teach your kids not to leave their messes everywhere and you can yell and lecture all you want but they will learn by example. Maybe if A. sees his behavior from a parenting/modeling standpoint, he will be more willing to make changes? If they never develop good cleaning habits, their messes will start to bother him, I'm sure, just like his messes bother you.

As for alone time, Can you have just one day a week where she is out and about with N & P and you can stay home with Josie? I know that you want to spend as much time with them as possible but maybe if its just one day a week, you won't feel so bad? I don't think you should feel bad/guilty at all but I understand why you do. Damn Mommy Guilt!

Hang in there, let me know if I can do anything - Billy is working from home until Matteo arrives so I have some free time during naps now.

Goddess in Progress said...

I think Cynthia's comment about the tone is a good one. I know I personally find it a little too easy to turn into a shrieking harpy when things get on my nerves. M is more receptive if I simply ask him to do something specific in a neutral tone of voice, rather than turning it into an attack on his character (which, believe me, I've done). There's a big difference between "would you please put your shoes away?" and "Why do you ALWAYS leave your shoes out?" I have to remind myself a lot to watch my tone.

It's super frustrating. You're not a maid. And I have to agree with Sarah, saying "I'll never change," especially with regard to things like basic chores and tidiness, is a cop-out. I'm messy, too. Putting things away is FAR from the top of my list of enjoyable things to do. But such is the nature of being an adult - we have to do some stuff we don't like. And it takes us longer to bitch about it than it actually does to just do it.

I think Julia makes a great point - try to find a time where you can sit down and agree on a few basic "rules" or set up a schedule for who is responsible for doing what and when. Again, try not to make it a time to attack anyone, just a friendly meeting to agree on terms. Alternate days, or assign one type of task to one person and one to the other (dishes are M's job, I do the cooking). No agreement is perfect, and we all have days where we don't get done what we mean to. But if you can get together and agree on a few of the things, that might take some of the strain off. Maybe that means you ignore the mess of the office in favor of dishes in the dishwasher and shoes in the shoe rack. Whatever, you pick the things that you are able to reach a compromise on.

It sucks. Division of labor is a major sticking point, and one that is a huge source of stress for a lot of us. I don't think you're out of line for being upset.

LauraC said...

I agree with Sarah. Marriage means some compromise and if something bothers one spouse enough, then it needs to change OR alternative solutions need to be considered.

Another thing to consider is what you want your kids to learn. Do you want to teach your kids that is acceptable? I don't pick up after my 4 year olds. Ever. They pick up their stuff. They put away their toys, their clothes, their dishes, their shoes, everything. (Obviously I tell them to do it.) So I personally don't think it's unreasonable to expect a 34 year old to do it.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

boy oh boy!

So sorry you had a disaster of a date night.

I don't know A so don't know what will work for you guys but I do know you're a J :) so you NEED the order of an uncluttered house.

I have a cleaning lady once a week (mainly for the ironing) and what we do besides that is decide who does what - I cook, D does dishes. He knows the mess drives me crazy, I also know it doesn't bother him THAT much (although he is VERY neat for a man) so we have non-negotiables (kitchen, etc) and "other" (tends to be his stuff). Then the stuff that doesn't bother him so much I don't mind doing as I can see he's made some effort.

I definitely want our kids to be respectful of our home and shared spaces so I even take a baby in the one arm and say, "come kendra, let's tidy up your toys"

Love what some people said about tone - very true. It's a lot easier discussing things regularly and calmly than at breaking point.

Anonymous said...

I'm a working mom of 3 (including twins).Your husband needs a wake up call- his college days are O-V-E-R. Having 3 young kids means drastic changes for all, he must either deal or find a new residence. At least that would be my attitude!! And regarding other points in your post: Sleep deprivation will do awful things to a new mom and it is crazy the amount of things you are attempting to do & handle in a given day. I burned out just reading it. With enough sleep, you might not be as bothered about certain things. I think a big key in the whole picture is structuring downtime into your day whatever it takes, so you can at least one solid nap per day, at a minimum. Can you just retreat (disappear) into part of your house where the twins don't know you're home, and lock yourself in with Josie for that downtime? The way I see it, if the nanny is paid to care for the twins that is her job, NOT YOURS, while she is "on duty". Trying to mix into their routine probably just gives more headaches than its worth. You can have structured time when she's not on duty, and be better rested for that time, with some kind of a better schedule. Best of luck to you!

anitajd said...

Several posters hit some good points--the sleep deprivation can make anyone overly-sensitive and difficult for parents; you are used to being at the office, not home ALL DAY, so you notice many more things; and last, marraige is a compromise and running a household should be a joint venture.

Some of the things you mentioned, I deal with....either by the kids or Hubby. My joke line (ok, 1/2 joke, 1/2 reality) is that THIS IS NOT A HOLIDAY INN. No one is going to pick up after you all the time. You are old enough to do things on your own.

My twins are now 9. For the last year, I've been pushing them to put away (either to sink or DW) their brkfst dishes (and lunch, if they are home from school). One twin (my slob) refuses to remember. I won't put it away from him, so when dinner comes, he isn't served until he puts his brkfst plate away. It's a slow process, but one he needs to learn.

Shoes are an impossible issue. I empathize. I also have a shoe box near the doorway. Not one single Thomas boy (young or old) uses it.

Hubby's clothes next to bed: he is now the main bedtime caretaker (kids choice, not mine). After he put them to bed, he goes to the bedroom and puts his clothes away. Takes 5 minutes. Everyone is happy.

I hope you find a solution. And that your next date night goes better. hang in!

Anonymous said...

Hi - Just a stranger who reads your blog from time to time and chiming in. Your post hit a nerve because I've been there. You are paying your nanny a lot of money - so she should be doing what you want and not the other way. I have used maternity leaves to have one on one time with my older children (and pumped when necessary when the baby stayed home). Even if you are taking one child to the grocery store, you can make it special mommy time and have a much easier time than carting three kids through an activity. You may also want to consider asking your nanny to come in later and stay later for the next few months to help get you through bed and bath time (or change bath time to before dinner while she's still there). It will be much more stressful when you go back to work if you do not get a chance to rest and recover now. And it will add to any bitterness. If you take care of yourself, the rest will fall into place. I was at Boston Biglaw and now at NY Biglaw, so I get it.
All the best, C

Angela said...

I know this is a crazy old post and you probably already solved this issue, BUT, as your husband, he should WANT to make your life easier! My husband also has slob tendencies, but when I spoke to him about how batty it's making me, he agreed to try harder. He's been doing pretty well, actually. He still leaves clothes on the floor by the bed, but at least he throws away any cups he's using, puts his dirty dishes in the sink, and does the dishes more often. Baby steps... ;-)


~A