Will has been gone a lot recently. Or at least a lot for our little household; perceptions are certainly relative when you realize that other families have spouses who travel every single week for work (or the more amazing military families; and don’t get me started on single parents who never have any help. Great, now I feel really guilty for even mildly complaining about this past week).
But for the past seven days, it has been two children, two dogs and one sporadically lucid adult – that last one would be me.
I did get some relief from the wonderful Gram-E (our neighbor and third grandmother), who helped me walk the dogs and listen out for the kids during naptime so I could sneak in a few runs. And in fact it was on one of these much-appreciated jogs that I realized something—what on earth was I complaining about?
Let me catch you up a bit before I lose you altogether. When I run, I almost always have heated conversations with myself—in my head mostly, although sometimes I get so involved in my own arguments that they come spewing out from my brain through my mouth before I have a chance to stop them. Oh, and some Murphy’s Law trivia in case you need it for your next family game night—the moment you start talking out loud to yourself in public is the same moment you come face-to-face with a group of ‘too cool for school’ tweens or the nice elderly man you often see walking his dog that up until that moment thought you were a normal, functioning adult.
But be that as it may, running is a great time to muddle through the thoughts in my head that have been piling up since my last run. Sometimes I’ll come up with actual solutions (which usually involve storming through our mudroom door at the end of my run to confront Will with an, “okay, so we need to fix this NOW and you need to help me by doing THIS now and why are you still sitting there eating your breakfast?!? This is vital to our life RIGHT NOW.”). Other times I’ll just have pretend arguments with the people or issues in my life that are bugging me. And please tell me I am not the only person who does this (and if I am, the rest of you all need to try this immediately. Having an imaginary shouting match with a person or about an issue that has been bothering you is highly cathartic and can sometimes bring about much more internal relief than the actual conversation every would have. Have I just outed myself as a conflict-avoider? Stop laughing, Will.)
And during a recent run, I started my usual mental gymnastics rerunning what can be known as The Week Without Will – “Ugh, this week has been hard. I mean, I’ve been in charge of everything kid-related—waking up, breakfast, errands, lunch, naptime, bath time, dinner, dishes, picking up toys, laundry, cleaning, and on and on. I mean, no help from Will. Zero. Zip. Zilch. It’s all about me.” Me, me, me. I know; I’m wondering if the obvious could have hit me in the face a little harder. And in fact, it was around this time when I was feeling the most sorry for myself that I had a mental glimpse back to a Chris Rock sketch he did several years ago about a certain kind of dead-beat father:
Don’t worry, I won’t actually play the Chris Rock sketch—this blog doesn’t have a NC-17 rating after all (but for those who are brave, definitely check it out; it is hilarious). In any event, to paraphrase Mr. Rock’s near-perfect comedic style, he refers to his annoyance of those fathers who want praise for doing what they’re supposed to do (can you hear him now? “That’s what you’re supposed to do!”).
- - I pay my child support. I take care of my kids.
- - That’s what you’re supposed to do! What do you want? A cookie?
After giggling out loud to myself (another endearing quality I have during my running brain exercises. And I wonder why no one wants to jog with me?), I realized that is exactly what I was doing. I wanted buckets of credit for something that I was supposed to be doing—taking care of my family while our breadwinner was out supporting us.
And I certainly don’t mean to imply that I am (or any woman is) supposed to be a stay-at-home mother. But since this is how our life is—I am in charge of the kids and the house; Will is in charge of ensuring we can stay in the house—I just need to buck up and do it. Stop complaining; stop expecting never-ending reverence from family and friends for the harder times; and for heaven’s sake, stop asking for the proverbial cookie. Staying at home will be harder at times, yes; but did I really think it would ever be easy (at least until George starts preschool and I do the dance of joy in my kitchen on that first free morning).
Will is home now and I feel like a huge mental weight is lifted. Tomorrow is Monday and my week begins anew without Will; but at least he will be home every night (at some point) and will be in the kitchen eating breakfast every morning I come home from my runs—anxiously waiting his next “you must do this NOW” project.
Happy, happy Sunday everyone!