THE PARENTING-RELATIONSHIP-WORK QUAGMIRE

Now then, this ain’t no ‘how to’ guide my dears. I, we, are in absolutely  no position to push our attempts at trying to get the balance of old life, new life, parenting, earning money, not falling apart on to anyone.

However, about a month ago I LOST IT.

I was tired, confused, desperate for more help, more love and some food. I was drowning in thoughts and washing up. I didn’t have a clean bib for dinner time. I hadn’t considered what the hell we we would have for our dinner. I felt like just a mum, just someone to keep the house running. The dogs eye was stuck together because he has some sort of condition at the mo. The place was a tip and I was dreading any kind of comment that acknowledged that because despite appearances, I was trying my best. The crap in the sink was my best. The unmade bed was my best. The bland mush for baby’s dinner was my best. My unwashed hair, spotty face and grey eyes were my best.

When I feel overwhelmed, ALL OF THE BAD OR WORRYING THINGS rise to the surface of my foggy old head and start crashing in to one another.

  • ‘Why is he not helping more?’
  • ‘Why doesn’t he get it / why won’t he tell me to stop and takeover for an hour?’
  • ‘Is my mum getting ill more quickly now? I wonder if she’s had any more falls?’
  • ‘Is Elodie getting the right nutrition? What fucking milk do I, hang on WE, put her on when she’s 1?’
  • ‘Fuck she’s 1 soon, what shall we do for a party? We cant have a party here because the house isn’t finished’
  • ‘Oh god what do I do about childcare if i go back to work?’
  • ‘What do I do about going back to work?’
  • ‘I need to do that thing on my to do list….actually those 112 things on my to do list’
  • ‘Why is no one listening to me?’
  • ‘Why do I feel guilty for going to the osteopath? Why do I have to rush back?’

I can feel myself fizz. An internal fizzing of worry and whereas years ago I could put in place the techniques to pull myself back into calm, nowadays there just isn’t the time. If it’s a toss up between putting the washing on or meditating, well i’m afraid the washing isn’t going to do itself is it?’

This is just how it is though. It isn’t easy working out your new roles. And when you don’t understand the job spec because there isn’t one and you don’t know how to work together as different sorts of colleagues now, it can cause friction and creeping thoughts of resentment. Who is in charge here?!

Anyway, I blew up at my husband. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t without love. In fact, I blew up because of all the love. The bundles of it that deep down might be buried under loads of other stuff just now, but is still there. And every now and then it cries ‘hello?’ I blew up because I really, really care about our relationship. Even more so now we have a baby who is learning what relationships look and feel like.

It was a serious conversation and because of some clever friends I had spoken to prior to erupting, it was accompanied by some suggestions. 

As mentioned over here, John’s work is pretty unique; a) he genuinely LOVES what he does and is brilliant at it – I know right? b) it’s essentially freelance so jobs can crop up at any time and can take him anywhere  for any period of time, c) a lot of his work involves a lot of pre-work….so before he leaves for a show or to produce some content he needs to do all the research, all the planning, d) weekends aren’t weekends anymore, they are just any other day and e) he is working so very hard at future proofing his income now that Elodie has joined us. 

All these things equal a man on a mission. And while he loves his job it’s not without it’s pressures. One thing about John is that he goes all in on his job. It’s his dream come true and how many of us can say that about the 9-5? But meanwhile, cooooey, I’m over here? I mean it ain’t pretty, it’s a sweaty old mess, but i’m still here.

Men Mars, Women Venus. Indeed.

Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers wrote an amazing piece recently about how Relationships are Hard – here – and I was literally reading each word, my eyes bulging bigger and wider as I agreed more and more with each one. And then Anna Whitehouse, the wonderful Mother Pukka opened up too – here – and again I was like YES GIRL ME TOO ME TOO CRY CRY.

So, although I like uniqueness to a point, turns out our relationship is bloody normal post kids. Slap bang in the middle of the norm.

As mentioned before I think, we don’t have any regular help since baby arrived. And actually it gets my back up a little when suggestions of ‘lets get someone in?’ are thrown my way. Because i cant accurately describe the help I need or want. It’s not with baby. I’ve got that. That’s my job and I feel very strongly about that. It’s me. Someone to make sure I’m still going every now and then. I got ill this week and I just know it was because I was alone for 5 nights, not looking after myself well enough, trying to be everything, trying to prove something. Maybe I need some sort of virtual life coach to pop into my head at certain intervals with ‘have you had any water today?’ ‘remember to defrost that dinner of yours so you can have that and get to bed at a reasonable hour’ and ‘go to fucking bed you lunatic!’. Maybe it’s a life hacker person to save me some precious time. Ok, I need a time fairy. 

I wander round the house with baby during the day and make mental notes of all the things I really need to get done ‘tonight’, once she’s down. I hardly ever get to them and sometimes I’m fine with that, other times I’m not. Because some times one of those things is writing, which I love. It fills me up some how. 

Anyway, jesus. ‘Mini blog’ my flat arse.

During the BLOW UP, I indicated that because of John’s work set up, we don’t have weekends. We don’t have two days a week where the agenda is generally clear, where we can wake up and be like ‘what shall we do today…all three of us’ as opposed ‘what are you doing today? There’s nothing lonelier than that question sometimes, where you ask your partner what they are up to today. Where did the ‘we’ go?

So our plan.

We now really make an effort to of a Sunday, identify up to two days in the upcoming week where we have family time, what perhaps normal couples would see as a weekend. So it might be a Thursday afternoon and a Sunday. It could be a Monday and a Friday morning. These days are also where I don’t have to do the morning or evening baby shifts – so the first feed and breakfast up to first nap, or the dinner and bath time.

Once the air had cleared and a plan agreed, I obviously bought a weekly planner notebook thing from Sainsbury’s. But I felt lighter, we both felt excited, reset and focused on this new beginning.

As he flew off to another exciting job, we both felt genuinely invigorated as a couple as to how it was going to be when he got back. 

And thats the path we are currently on. 

Family days don’t mean having to book something or spend loads money. It could be just time together at home, duties shared. It could be a day trip or family visit. It could be, and has been, batch cooking some mush for baby dinners. But they are ‘we’ days. 

Our new WEekends.

Vx

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