It goes without saying that the husband does an awful lot for me. He cooks, he cleans, he cares. He picks up the slack for me when I’m not coping, he knows I’m having real problems with sleep at the moment so he will get up with Beans and give her breakfast. He may not understand what I’m going through, or know how to talk to me about it, but he helps as best as he can.
So I’m a bitch for having a problem aren’t I?
For as long as this has been going on I have been biting my tongue. I can’t get angry at him can I? What right do I have to be frustrated or upset or to criticise? When he does so much and cares so much I can’t just turn around and complain. I certainly can’t now, too much time has passed.
No matter what our situation is or who does most of the child care the fact is that mums and dads parent differently. Hell, everyone parents differently. No one will look after Beans the way that I do, nor will I ever be able to look after her like anyone else. That’s just life.
I still question myself. Sometimes Beans will wake in the night and instantly I know that she is frightened, that she needs a cuddle and a bit of reassurance. The husband goes to her and implements his strict no eye contact, lay her back down technique. She screams. He repeats. She screams. I lay in bed, pinned to the mattress by the self doubt that asks me how exactly do I know what is wrong in the first place.
Some mornings I go downstairs and am met with a very whiney child and a grumpy husband. The floor is a sea of toys and cups of water and things she’s pulled off the shelves; the husband hides behind the laptop.
‘She doesn’t want any of her toys’
Have you played with her? Have you got her engaged with something? Do you think that maybe she is a bit overwhelmed with all those toys and doesn’t know where to start? Why aren’t you even speaking to her?
But it all remains unsaid. My self doubt pipes up again. Who am I to think I know what’s best?
I can’t say ‘I think you need to talk to her more’ or ‘please, play with her just for ten minutes rather than watching tv’. Of course I can’t. Who the fuck do I think I am to even think these things?
I’m expecting too much. I’m expecting that the husband should take my place, that he should be the parent that I want to be in my absence. He should encourage and play and constantly chatter.
He went back to work and I broke down, I just couldn’t do it. Does he think I’m a complete moron? That I parent in the same way as him so essentially had a panic attack over watching television?
Beans is so clever and it’s amazing watching what she can do when she has a little bit of encouragement and is engaged in something. She’s affectionate and she gets bored when she has no stimulation. Some days I feel like the husband ticks the boxes of her care in a stoney silence.
Nappy – done.
Food – done.
Toys – done.
Water – done.
Nap – done.
He goes through the motions. Is that because there is too much pressure on him? I don’t think I’ll ever know because I can’t talk to him about it.
If I opened my mouth and let all these thoughts spill out he would be upset, I just can’t do it. Who am I to criticise what he does when sometimes he does it all. Is it not enough that he is doing what he is doing, am I really this ungrateful?
The thing that gets me the most is the daily report that I am presented with each morning. Possibly made worse by the fact that I am by no means a morning person and should not be spoken to until I have been awake for at least two hours. At least.
‘Shes been really naughty this morning. She did this. She did that. She wouldn’t do this. She doesn’t listen to no. I’m really wound up. She keeps screaming’.
I can’t handle that. I can’t handle that before I’ve even said good morning I’m confronted with such a barrage of intense negativity. I say nothing. I sympathise. I sit with Beans while the husband goes off for a break. She was just bored, that was all. We play with books while I beat myself up for being a shit mum and a shit wife, the guilt and the loss sits heavy on my shoulders. I smile though it. I have to be ok.
The guilt that I feel for not being the parent that I want to be weighs heavy everyday. I do my best to internalise all the frustration that I feel and to make sure I don’t upset the balance by upsetting the husband. What makes me really sad though, not just for me but for Beans too, is that I want at least one of her parents to enjoy her, that’s all.