Monday, April 26, 2010

Marriage Counseling

DH just texted me that he has the name of a local psychologist who can provide us with marriage counseling. I have to admit I am a little scared - that our confidentiality will be breached in our little town, that when people find out they will think we're on the brink of divorce (we're really not - this is a very proactive step, as things fortunately have not gotten ugly thus far), that the psychologist will hate me for being an atheist, and if it ever comes up that it will quickly get around town, that it won't be worth the money, that the therapist will be podunk and dr.phil-like... perhaps many of the usual things we fret about when meeting a new therapist.

Why now? I know we're in Survival Mode (with a 6.5 mo old girl and a 2.5 year old boy).. but the thing is, we need more of a structure to our conversations, and a scheduled time to truly work on things. Instead of me going through what I feel the issues are, I'm just going to copy and paste some emails between me & DH from this morning (one upside to anonny-blogging?). Oh boy....

Email from DH to me this morning:

You asked me in the last email why I was upset and not seeming like I gave shit. Rather than hold things in and be passive aggressive, I'm going to try and be more direct.

I feel last night was an example of why, at times, I feel like I'm alone in our marraige.

Between 5:00 and 10:00 pm last night, when DS was awake until he fell asleep, here is what I did:

- Cooked dinner
- Cleaned the majority of the dishes (you did put the detergent in the dishwasher)
- Showered with the kids
- Cleaned and dressed DS
- Played with DS
- Booked flights
- Made dinner reservations
- Starting booking rental property
- Took DS in bed and took an hour to get him asleep

During this same time you did:

- Dress DD
- Hold both children, mainly DD, while watching about 5 hours of TV (including TV watched while I cooked).

This is not meant to be a "scoreboard" to see who's a better spouse/parent etc. But it illustrates my frustration at times when I get home and I don't feel our marraige is a partnership. I loved it yesterday when you came out and helped me pull weeds. We had time together, we talked, it actually meant a lot to me. (I'm actually crying right now as I write this email to you thinking about us to illustrate my sincerity).

When I have to ask you several times to turn off the TV to eat dinner with me, that really hurts my feelings. When the opportunity presents itself, both kids asleep and/or playing, and you choose to watch TV or read on the internet, it makes me feel like I'm not very important to you.

I empathize that there are times when we both need "me time" but I just want to feel like I matter to you. You'll find that my mood improves greatly the more I feel like you want to be a partner with me. Whether we like it or not, as parents, there are daily responsibilities that we need to take care of EVERYday: walking dogs, feeding dogs, cooking/buying dinner, cleaning the dishes, making bottles, getting the kids asleep.

Email from me to DH this morning:

I'm flabbergasted.

What do you do when your spouse insists that you in fact did only 2 things in a 5 hour period, and totally ignores and minimizes at least 15 other daily chores you did after he went to bed that he routinely takes for granted? And then uses that as a bizarre rationalization for his unexplained bad behavior for the last 2 weeks, including his 5-day vacation with his buddies?

Do you respond by cataloguing the things you did? Or do you just stop doing them until he finally gets it?

What is your issue with saying you "help" in your own home? Do you get how patronizing and inaccurate that is? And why are you so obsessed with who does what around here anyway? Why do you feel the need to control and micromanage these things that don't even matter in the grand scheme of things? It is as though there is a part of you deep down that gets off on discrediting what I do.

I just don't know what to do with you anymore. You are really not getting it.

God, I hate how cold I sounded! DH really is a wonderful husband - sometimes a r'tard and sometimes unbelievably selfish, but mostly really, really good. I think this is worth working on.

Any words of wisdom for us?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Talking Bout Guernsey

Our topic is the book "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I freaking ADORED this book. However a good friend of mine did not - and I totally respect her opinion about that and think she has better taste in literature than I do. So let's discuss.

My initial thoughts:

Great example about a guy who looks perfect on paper but doesn't make you shiver, and therefore is not marriage material. Though I have to say the one she ended up with didn't seem to really make her shiver either - or perhaps he actually did, but the fact that it was written in letters & telegrams obscured that.

Oh, sending the children away for years! Having to make that fateful decision based on such little information? And to have to live with yourself as a parent?!

I wished Juliet could have found a diary in Elizabeth's house in which she chronicled her love affair with Christian. But isn't that how life is - we rarely get the full story.

Does the fact that the name Christian, which means follower of Christ, allude to the fact that Elizabeth was perhaps a Christ figure, who made Christ-like sacrifices for others? Did anyone else think Elizabeth was foolish, and that an argument could be made that for her daughter's sake she could have tried harder at self-preservation?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Don't Sleep, I Read

For some reason (two small children, cough cough...), I don't get enough sleep. And even when I am able to sleep, because everyone else in my house is sleeping at that moment, I sometimes experience insomnia. So I bust out a book in bed (because I sleep alone in the room next to DD while DH is in our bed with DS). I've managed to read a few more books than usual lately. (I'm omitting the authors' names because I can't be bothered to get up and look at the pile of books). Here's my list of good, finished reads:

The Help
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Prospect Park West
The Big Short

And I am about 10 pages into "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" (and loving it). Anyone want to discuss it here with me at the end of May? Or any of these other titles now? Or anything you would recommend?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Would You Do?

Some friends of ours in Podunkville are divorcing, and their three daughters are really suffering and having many behavioral problems at school. Thankfully their dad has taken the middle daughter's Kindergarten teacher's advice to get the girls into therapy. I'll cut to the chase: I think their dad is a far better parent to the girls, and is the only one of the pair who truly wants his children in his home as much as possible. Their mother, on the other hand, does not really want full custody of her girls, but also does not want to have to pay child support. I will spare you the gory details, but I think she is an alcoholic. She is also about to get married to her supervisor, with whom she was carrying on an extramarital affair... and mom's new fiance has been divorced twice because he was unfaithful to his last two wives.

The dad has asked me to fill out a form for the girls's Guardian Ad Litem, which asks for honest feedback about what I have seen, heard, and believe to be in their best interests. So if I'm honest, I'll be throwing mom under the bus. And I'm a little worried she might make a smear campaign against me for speaking out. And yet the truth needs to be told. But few of us in town are willing and able to tell the truth because of where we work, and our fear of whatever psycho shit mom might do.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting It Together

I had an appointment on Friday with my attorney - the good kind of attorney - a trusts & estates lawyer. He's helping DH and I get our proverbial shit together so in case we die or become incapacitated, our little ones will be provided for and will have a home with someone on our guardian list of 10 couples.

One of our main goals of this exercise is to make sure that under no circumstances are DH's parents ever to be granted custody of our children. Long story short, DH and I have no relationship with either of his parents, who are divorced and remarried to some poor schmucks and live miserably ever after on the other side of the country. They have never met our kids, and we doubt that will ever change. To put it mildly, they are scumbags who engage in illegal and unethical stuff. To this day we still get collection calls for them - they are apparently on the lam from creditors, but I digress.

Anyway, it feels good to be putting these plans on paper finally. Now that we have planned for it, it will never happen I'm sure (knock on wood.)

Do you have an exit strategy or any kind of estate plan in case of zombie takeover?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank You Notes

Another odd thing about Podunkville: very few people write thank you notes. Or even thank you emails for that matter.

I am a bit old school about certain points of etiquette. "Obsessive" is how you could describe my affinity for writing thank you notes on pretty paper. But in my little podunk hamlet, of the last five gifts I've given, I haven't received a single thank you note, email, text, call, hand wave, high five or what have you. Which strikes me as odd. Three of the 5 non-thank you note writers were not raised in Podunkville, so it is not a "podunk thing" necessarily. As a matter of fact, some expat English friends of ours who just moved to Northern NJ, way on the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, report the same thing: nobody there sends written thank you's anymore. And I'm not talking about people who are superbusy because they just had a baby or a serious illness. No, I'm talking people with school aged children who threw over the top birthday fetes for their little ones. Or even worse, for themselves.

Am I hopelessly old fashioned and out of touch to think a written thank you note for a gift unopened in front of the giver (and also for pretty much all gifts & all nice things done for you) is still the social norm? Help me out here. No shame if you generally don't write them - I really want to know how it is. Is it because I'm not on FB? Is that the new forum for gratitude? I think not. Do tell.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love Scenes

DH and I noticed a funny thing when we were watching the first episode of "Mad Men" Season 3, with DS (29 mos) sitting next to us on the couch (as usual, refusing to go to bed). Suddenly, a love scene came on, and DS averted his eyes with a sly smile, and made an "ugghh" sound as if it grossed him out! Which DH said was the exact reaction he used to have as a child, whenever sensual images appeared on TV.

As far as I know, we haven't done anything to reinforce any sort of 'yuck factor' about these kinds of images. I wonder if this is some sort of innate human reaction he had, or if perhaps we are somehow reinforcing it subconsciously?

Any experiences with this? How do you handle it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spirited Boy

I finally checked out the "Spirited Child" book from the library, the same one that folks have been recommending on "Ask Moxie" for ages. I admit I have been in denial about how challenging my 29-month-old DS can be. Like I was somehow afraid of labeling him unfairly, though "spirited" is just about the perfect euphemistic term for a kid like DS. I'm having trouble putting into words why I feel this particular shoe fits him.

He is a wonderful boy, don't get me wrong. And super cute - the kind of beautiful kid that middle-aged women in public always comment on literally every single day - "Where did he get those amazing long lashes, big brown eyes, sweet smile, sandy brown hair???" Probably from the same gene pool that gave him his low sleep needs, a predilection for climbing and jumping, and a very stubborn, determined personality. I'm glad he is happy most of the time.... because he is so very hard to keep up with! At least he is fun to be around and has a sweet personality while he is raising hell! Yesterday we had our second broken eggs incident. I was doing the dishes and heard the fridge door open and shut - he does that all the time - he is strong enough to break open the fridge lock we used to have. Minutes later, I walked towards the entryway where I heard him laughing, and on the floor and in the hall closet were 10 broken, raw eggs. It took so much restraint not to break down and cry right there. It took hours to clean up.

Other people's kids don't do stuff like this all the time, like DS does. (I'm sure they do, somewhere. Just not anyone around me.) And I really do mean "all the time." I am so exhausted from cleaning up after him, collecting piles of his broken things in the garage, wiping stuff off of every surface of our house, trying to hide things he's found all over again (he is like a heat-seeking missile for search and destroy of pens, chapstick, chocolate), etc...

I feel like he is either going to be a huge success or a complete failure - isn't that an odd thing to think?

My Podunk neighbor thinks I should start spanking him. Um, no.

This is not a discipline issue, it is a personality issue. That's what I really feel. Anybody else get what I'm saying?

EDIT: I'm halfway through the book. BTW, the book is "Raising Your Spirited Child, A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Excellent read. Extremely validating for me. Avoids mislabeling. It concerns developmentally normal child behavior. Deals with the real emotions I feel, primarily the loss of a dream/phantom "easy" child I thought he once was and would forever be - naive, I know. It also gets wonderfully specific. Turns out that DS is "spirited" alright. Of the various categories explored, DS is only "more" in the "Persistent" and "Energetic" areas. Which explains why he is happy-go-lucky while destroying everything in sight and going non-stop. His hapless parents are "spunky," so there is a temperamental mismatch we need to work through. Great, great book!