Chapter 19: The Unfair Role
A new place to live, down the street from my family, in a neighborhood I know and love, in a place that was bigger and more homelike than any home we have had up to this point. Life was looking good. Jake and I were happy and we were even getting our intimacy back in a regular swing. Our bond was strengthening and we were a more cohesive unit. Now, I wasn’t totally okay with his drinking, but all I had ever wanted was for it to be in control. It’s his choice if he wants to drink, but the excessive amount really affected us all. We made a deal if he would quit hiding it, and drink in an acceptable moderation it was something that we could manage and accept. It still triggers me when I would see a can, hear a can open or smell it. I have to really work to be fair.
For example, am I creating tension just because there is alcohol in the room? Or is he actually drunk and treating me poorly? It was generally the first. That’s not to say the occasional over indulgence or sneaky liquor bottle didn’t happen where he WAS in the wrong. But typically I over reacted. Now what I loved most about his new found moderation was the memories he now had of outings and playtime with our kids.
He was and IS an amazing Father. He is fun, creative, educational, loving, silly, strong and a best friend! He is by far all my kids favorite parent. I don’t think that will ever change. But it’s also a little unfair. As the stay at home parent, I am the maid, nurse, mom, chef, disciplinarian, taxi, hammer, Fix it Felix and any other title you can find.
It’s one of the most thankless jobs yet the most rewarding. I’m less fun, because I have so many
roles to play. Dad just gets to be dad. He gets to play, he gets to be silly whenever he wants and he gets to leave most of the hard stuff to me. Now that’s not to say he doesn’t discipline our kids or do any cleaning, cooking or any of the hard stuff….. But mostly that lands on me. With that, means my life is absorbed into one thing… my kids. Now some of you may be saying- that’s a great thing, right?!? The answer is YES! It’s an amazing thing! When I was a kid I was a natural mother. I like to think I was responsible and effective… Some call that bossy…. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to….After my traumatic Jr High and High School experiences, my natural abilities and patience dwindled. Motherhood and handling my relationship and addict spouse was not nearly as easy as I had hoped it would be. I am not as patient as I want to be, I’m sometimes scattered and messy, I am hard on myself and have high expectations from myself and for my loved ones. I know their potential and I expect their best. I know MY potential and I expect MY best.
This often comes across harsh and demanding. I’m working on it every day. But what’s more is that I need an escape from all of that.
I chose to work a part time job. Not because we need it financially (which it does help a lot to have even a small additional income), but because I need it for my sanity. I need something to channel my perfectionism into. I need to have something else to focus on so I can still love my family at the end of the day. I choose to choreograph jr high shows to have a creative outlet. Something to use the skills I used to have and to create something! Now I have been told my expectations are too high here too. I can get frustrated easily. I have also learned that I apparently have a RBV…. “Resting Bitch Voice”. It's a thing... Google it... My tone often comes across angry or mad… Even when I try to sound light and fairy tale like… I really don’t know how to fix that part….
But it can cause problems as a mother, wife and choreographer… I am a loud human being so I often yell while I choreograph and I have to remind the kids “I’m not yelling AT you, I’m yelling TO you…” One of my group of kids even got me a shirt at the end of the show that said “I’m not yelling, I’m projecting!” What an accurate depiction… Add my projection with my high expectations and my RBV…. People think I’m mad all the time and I can never quite figure out how to adjust that. All I can say is that at least in the CHOREO world, I get results. My kids always look amazing and clean and together by the time it’s performance time.
Anyway... when March 2020 came along…. life changed drastically. School was cancelled and added to my list of duties was teacher. I had all 3 kids home all day every day… By myself while Jake slept in preparation for his night shift… He would wake for dinner, often to his wife being a furious hot mess. The stress of the world, keeping up on all my duties with a 2, 3 and 7 year old fighting, screaming and NEEDING every ounce of me 24/7 was draining and exhausting in so many ways. Jake couldn’t understand it… He never would…. likely never will.. When he is home on the weekends, there are two of us… not one of us. He often tells me I do too much and I should just be MOM. But I would go insane. I used to want to homeschool and be home with my kids… That was young, naive and stupid… To you moms who do it without pulling your hair out… More power to you and Massive RESPECT! I used to know I could do that.. I WAS a natural mother… Life and circumstances happened and that natural ability was lost in the fray and panic of trying to keep it together and get my life in order.
My gosh, I was thankful for school to be back in session. I was thankful to be able to send my
now almost 4 year old to Preschool for a couple hours a week. I AM thankful I know how to plan and organize a day to get it all done… To make time for my personal passions so I don’t go crazy. I’m thankful I have learned to let some things go when I can't get it all done and circle back to it when I can… I am anxious for the day I have 3 capable kids to help with housework and when they can all go to school to give me 6 hours to be me, do my checklist of housework, work and sanity checks. I am thankful for a husband who works hard to provide for us. For this chapter, let’s focus on that. Next week we will get more into the challenges to overcome through the pandemic.
Find what keeps you sane, don’t feel guilty for needing, wanting and HAVING something just for you! Hobbies are important! Especially for stay at home parents. To the working parent… Be patient. The emotional toll is excruciating. If the house didn’t get clean, don’t get down on your spouse… Instead, do a little yourself.. Do a load of laundry or dishes, take out the trash. When it’s your day off, let it be your spouses day off. Take their normal day to day off their plate… It will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This may be what makes your spouse keep their sanity, their light and joy… maybe even their life. Remember that raising kids is many full time jobs… Yes you work hard at yours… but you get to leave and come home… being a full time parent gets no breaks or holidays… Make sure you provide it for your significant other. Why? Because THEY are worth it! Together you can rise from your literal or figurative pile of laundry and arise strong and resilient! Until Next week.