Since the beginning of this online lifestyle experiment of mine (The-Fab-Mom) I’ve made it a point to try to not complain when the goin’ gets a little rough in the realm of day-to-day motherhood. I’ll admit to having a freakishly-high level of tolerance when it comes to feeling tired or just plain moody… but when I break, I break GOOD. Last weekend, a few of my girlfriends and I had a harmless b*tchfest (like only girlfriends can do)… which led to a major breakthrough concerning how to deal with overworked moms, husbands with time-consuming hobbies and all around family dynamics. In the name of keeping the promise to stay ‘focused-and-fun-after-babies’ via this blog, the post below tells a *true* story and also includes helpful findings and to-do guidelines that deal with getting your husband to listen to and help you (ha). But first, we must start with the story…
Has this happened to you? (The following story is all hypothetical, of course.)
Saturday: Your husband spends all day in the garage tinkering with an automotive project that is his latest and most urgent obsession and serious stress-release. ALL. DAY. Like, from 8:47am in the morning until 4:43pm at dusk. As we mentioned, it’s Saturday… and your mom-duty is alive and well. Like, heavy mom-duty (when is it not heavy, ha). You feed the little ones. You play with the little ones. You change the little ones’ princesses outfits eight times in a half-hour period. You play referee about the little one wearing what the big one says she wants to wear. You confiscate both costumes as punishment and then endure crying for about 20 minutes until they find something else to occupy them. You feed the little ones again. You get into a push-pull of whose-will-is-stronger with your two year old when it comes time to taking a nap (she took a nap). She then wakes up and you feed the little ones again because they saw the box of graham crackers on the counter and remembered how much they loooooove them. Same thing, different day. Except it’s SATURDAY. All fine, fun and par for the motherhood course. You accept it. You own it. You’re good with it. (Then, in a mad, mood-altering spin of the space time continuum, you flashback to when you used to go to the gym, hit up that $20 pedicure place and then trot off to lunch which may or may not have included tasty cocktails.) You suddenly wish you had a project in the garage to urgently tend to. You don’t. You then get a nice text from a friend recommending a unique and fun place to take your kids one weekend.
On account of the last eight hours of your day, you then respond to the nice text with a positive “how cute and fun!” for how much fun your friend is having and then add (as only friends can) how you’ve been bitterly stuck at home like every other day of the week while your husband relieves stress and renews himself with fresh creativity in the garage. A third friend on the text promptly responds with something extraordinarily similar to what you just described in your text. Your original friend (who sent the text) then continues the convo with an eerily similar scenario that she dealt with earlier in the week. And so the rant between good girlfriends – via text messaging – about the same experiences with family/husbands/kids is spawned. Let me tell you, it was epic. Legendary. Legendary! Bloop! Bloop! Bloop! The texts kept coming… and we all kept topping each other. (I mean, we married really good men who love their kids, but even the best of the best have days that aren’t so stellar, right? Been there, done that? Uh-huh.)
The theme? Husbands will always be men (with hobbies that sometimes don’t include wives or children) and women with children will always be moms (doing most of the heavy lifting every single day). Call it sexist, call it antiquated gender roles, call it a crock… but this is reality for many of us (no matter how many ground-breaking books we read by dads doin’ a lot of work).
Sure, venting through texts made us friends feel better (we agreed) but then I got rebellious by myself. It was time for woman-power. Not mom-power. WOMAN power. (There’s a difference.)
Just as my husband entered the living room and started joking with our girls (for the first time that day, around 4:45ish now), I dashed into my bathroom and did my hair. I slipped on my fave comfy Tieks, not bothering to change my UnderArmour leggings I’d been doing manual labor in all day (I only mention what I was wearing to prove this was NOT a glam-up job). I was ready. ARMED. EQUIPPED. For what? I didn’t know. I walked out into the den.
“Let’s take these girls to pizza,” my husband innocently suggested. My response shot out of my mouth before I could think straight: “I think that’d be adorable if you took them out… I’ll be back.” Out the door I walked. Into the car I got.
Then I felt bad. So I texted my hubby something about “Sorry for being so hasty… I just had to leave quickly… I just need some space by myself… I’ll be back…” His response? “Do you want pizza?” My response: “Nope. I’m getting pasta.”
Now I had to find a place to get pasta. I drove up and down the same main street that runs through my area a few times. Back and forth, back and forth. Up and down, down and up.
Finally I stopped at one of my favorite casual local spots. It was close to empty. I plopped onto a bar stool. I ordered something loaded with Vitamin C. Don’t let the bubbles fool you: It was STRONG. REALLY STRONG:
I then got my pasta. It was stronger (in the most delicious way).
Nothing tastes better these days than when you get to eat a meal by yourself and not talk to anybody (wow, that sounds rude… but you get me). I scrolled Twitter. I read articles about Ebola, how moms are overworked (hi) and emailed myself a few easy recipe ideas for healthy snacks from Pinterest. By now I was tipsy. (Keep in mind that, even though I did my hair, my makeup was NOT done so there I was, makeup-less at a bar by myself on a Saturday. Hot, huh?) LA-famous (and funny) TV personality Dorothy Lucey also seemed to be having an off-night (according to Twitter): She was going to a Halloween party in some kind of costume that was NOT “short or cute… not slutty… actually kind of ugly” (yes that’s her quote). I promptly tweeted her to go find something “semi-slutty.” She responded with “that would be the sensible thing to do.” I laughed. I felt better. I really started feelin’ good when I saw that Baby Gizmo was also home on a Saturday night and promoting a fabulous stroller giveaway. By now I was borderline drunk.
I finished my pasta and was ready to get back to reality. I gave up on the drink.
I went home. Exactly one hour had passed. I left around 5pm, was back around 6pm (even though my husband will claim that I was gone “FOR LIKE 3 HOURS!!” I was not). ONE hour. I needed space and time alone so much that I just plain took it without even asking if I could. Fabulous? Rude? Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And then I was good. So good that the next morning I woke up and made pumpkin muffins.
So there you have it — my [long and drawn out] rebellious story behind discovering tips and tricks for handling husbands, family time and alone time via a text-messaging b*tchfest with my girlfriends. But Jill, you ask, where are your promised, dramatic findings about how to get your husband to help you with stuff? Well — thanks to my girlfriends — here’s what we’re experimenting with:
1) Just pick up and leave everyone at home with no notice (ie: similar to the story I told you above) –Also known as ‘going-on-strike.’ Everyone will stay alive, everyone will be fine. We like to think this tactic teaches husbands a lesson while also making them appreciate us simultaneously. (We might be delusional.)
2) Keep a $hit list. Unless you document the actual time and frequency that your partner is MIA, you really have nothing to use against him (I realize how aggressive this sounds, but hey, changing someone’s behavior is hard work). They don’t need to know you’re keeping a list of ‘how long you were in the garage’ or ‘how long you slept on the couch’ or how many hours per week you were traveling and/or tending to things outside of the home that weren’t really all that necessary’… just keep it. That way, when you are at the END of your rope and NEED a big gun, you’ve got one readily available right there in the kitchen drawer. Men like facts. Give them facts (otherwise it’s all in our imagination, no?)
3) Call a babysitter for every little ridiculous space of time that you might need backup, and then ask your husband for money to pay for it. Hit ’em in the pocketbook ladies. It’s gonna cost you, but men hate it when you feel like you’re spending money that you don’t really need to. Also, a man that likes his comfortable privacy in his own home might get annoyed that the sitter is simply at your house for the most random times.
4) Get your kids in on the act. The other night, LadyP asked me (seriously, on her own accord, no joke): “Why is Papa in the garage again” during dinner. When my hubby made his way inside to the table (as we were finishing dinner) I asked LadyP to repeat what she asked me earlier. She did. The expression on his face was priceless. Kids are the best mirrors, no?
5) GET (AND READ!) THE BOOK! My friend, blogger and author Doyin Richards has a FABULOUS book called Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood where he details and gives insight (from a dude’s perspective) on HOW to get dads more involved with helping home life. (One of his best hints is: Let dads do things their way… even if it’s “not as good as you”… it’s the first step in getting them to actually help.)
I don’t know if it’s coincidence or luck, but let’s just say that Hubby has a been a doll the last few days. Mission accomplished?
HOW DO YOU DITCH MOMMY DUTY?