Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ten Things to Make a Difference

Of all the videos that are out, of all the articles published that show glimpses of Parent-dom. I think it still needs to be said that of all the jobs on planet freaking Earth, NOTHING is a wonderful, as maddening, as exhausting, as underappreciated, or as rewarding as having a child. It's this crazy cocktail of love that allows a small human to scream at you, assault you, ruin your best clothes, come at you with a kind of psychological warfare that S.E.R.E trainers would be proud of, and still - at the drop of a hat - you somehow come to rescue this small human from the inconvenience of a wet diaper, a lost pacifier, or bad lighting. All the while you're trying not to pee down your own leg, poop your own pants, or puke on them.

And still, we do this. Day in. Day out. Many of us work full-time jobs, and still come home and instead of putting our feet up, we get down on the floor and play with our littles, nurse them (sometimes because our boobs are about to explode) comfort them, talk to them, be covered in Mommy... And then cook dinner, do laundry, fold laundry, etc... It seems like this never ends.

And then there's our husbands. They've changed, too. Deeply ingrained in a man's soul is his need to provide, to fix things. He. Must. Fix. Things. He. Must. WIN.

The problem is: the game has changed.

Just because the game has changed doesn't mean something is broken. I think part of what made this last year hard on the Hubster and I was that we were fighting for some kind of return to what we thought was normal. Instead of embracing the changes, we were searching for what we thought we lost. Eventually, we came around in some ways. In other ways, we found to make sure that we didn't lose Us in the middle of becoming a threesome, soon to be a foursome.

But it takes reassurance. We both need reassurance. He needs reassurance that he's still winning. She needs reassurance that she's not doing everything wrong, that she's not alone, and she is still a total badass. We both need assurance that we're still a priority to the other.

Without further adieu. this is my list of things that make a huge difference. I can't speak for all Dads. I can't speak for all Moms. But I can speak from my experience.

1. Put the phone down while the other is talking. For those of us whose love language is Time, this is huge. Nothing can make a person feel less than a priority than talking to the back of a phone.

2. If one of you is working, the other needs to do something also. Hubster once told me the story of while he was with his unit. He was tired, and taking a break in one of the Humvees. All the while most of his unit was out doing something - most of the unit out-ranked him at the time. One of the NCO's came up to him and just said, "You know, if you're the only one sitting. You're doing something wrong." Unless you've been instructed by the other to take a break, if you see that your wife is doing dishes, fold laundry while you're watching a show. Watch the kiddos so that she can make dinner without worrying about them.

3. Remember: Men and Women are different creatures. Men don't multi-task very well. Women usually insist on doing it. It's not Bad. It's not inferior. It's just different. What causes a problem is when we thing that our husbands can do dishes, laundry, fix the sink, and watch the kids at the same time. It doesn't make us superwomen; it doesn't make them stupid.

4. Passive-Aggressive comments don't work. If something is really bothering you, instead of slamming cabinets, fussing over random things, etc is really counterproductive. You spend energy you usually don't have; all the while your partner is scared as hell to even ask what the problem is. If they do muster up the courage to ask, "What's wrong, honey?" Please, for the love of all things sacred and holy, don't say, "Nothing" and expect them to chase you down emotionally. It just leads to an argument.

5. "You're beautiful" "You're such a good Mom/Dad" "I am so in love with you." "You give so much of yourself" "Thank you" Say these on a regular daily hourly basis. Especially when
someone has fluid of unknown origin on one sleeve, food on the other, and has questionable amounts of sleep in several days.

6. "Honey, go take a nap." May be the most romantic thing on the face of the Earth.

7. "Why don't I take the kids, and you go..... " Fill in the blank here. It could be get a haircut, a walk through the grocery store, running an errand, or even just sitting outside by yourself for 15 minutes. It's amazing what short breaks can do for the psyche.
Edited to note here: if your wife/husband is a SAHM/D, remember they don't get days off. They rarely get to pee by themselves, so please, give them a break.

8. Be spontaneous. Now, relax for just a second. For some reason, spontaneous has read expensive. I didn't mean you have to spend any money. As in previous posts, I understand completely when there really isn't the wiggle room. But going for a walk or going to the park. Going to look at Home Depot and dreaming about what would we do, if..... Making a fort using random couch cushions and baby gates is a fun idea.

9. Stop worrying about the mess!! Look, you're going to be cleaning crap up until the day that your kids leave for college (then you convert their room into your project room. Then it's your mess.) Anyone with children understands. If they don't understand, and are outspoken enough to actually say something, I'd hit them up for cash and hire a housekeeper.

10. You are not a mind-reader, and neither is your partner.  They don't know you need something until you ask. They don't know you're feeling a certain way until you tell them. And they aren't trying to piss you off on purpose - regardless of how it may seem.

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