Raquel (29) is a senior account manager at a large PR firm. Her work hours are 8:00 - 5:00, at which time she picks her kids up from the afternoon babysitter. She often continues working after the children are in bed. Before she had children, her hours were 9:00 - 8:00.
Her husband of nearly five years, Josh (33), is an up and coming journalist for a major newspaper. His work hours are unpredictable, and basically, always. A year ago, he was usually home by 7:00.
They moved to the suburbs last year after the birth of their second child, Stevie, now aged 14 months. Julia, their oldest, is 3 1/2.
Raquel has come downstairs, ready to leave to work, and is holding Stevie on one arm, her tote in the other. She stops short when she notices some of Josh's papers all over the kitchen table, and a sink full of dishes from his and Julia's breakfast - he had made her blueberry crepes before taking her to nursery school and going to work.
There is also batter on the counter and stove top... And some crepes on a plate which Josh left for her, with a note: "Rack- Eat something, for once. Love, J."
Dammit, Josh. Can't I just be angry at you? Or else, can't I just be able to rely on you?
Can't you be clearly a jerk, or clearly helpful, so I can decide what to feel?
Am I going to have this conversation with you for the three hundredth time, or should I leave it here, with myself, and let it just dissolve in my boiling bloodstream because there's nothing to be done anymore?
Now I'm thinking that you left me the crepes so that I couldn't be mad at you for not cleaning up. After all, you fed Julia and took her to nursery and made me a gourmet breakfast...I'd have to be a real bitch to yell at you then. Are you that calculating? That passive aggressive? Or is that me?
Because - - maybe you were just being nice and thoughtful and good, and are just scatter brained and, yes, a loveable slob. Maybe I should stop digging so deep and analyzing everything to death.
Maybe I should stop being such a neat freak and so picky and controlling about how and when I want my kindness delivered.
After all, you don't DEMAND that everything be clean...that's my "thing." If I left dishes, you wouldn't be mad. Hell, you wouldn't notice. You're easy. You'll eat anything and cook for yourself and live in a pile of stinking socks. So why am I so uptight about it? Why am I so critical? Why can't I just accept that if I want things a certain way, I'll have to do it? Why can't I just be thankful for the breakfast? Delicious, by the way...
But then again - - we are a household. I do the laundry - including yours. I prepare lunches - including yours. Iron clothes - including yours. Order technicians to fix things in OUR house, and do "guy" things, like mowing the lawn and minor repairs, because, actually, I enjoy those things. I do gallons of things that save you time or prevent you from having to live like a slovenly bachelor, even if you are willing to do so.
So would it have killed you to wipe off the stove and rinse those few dishes and put them in the dishwasher? And to clean up YOUR papers? Those extra five minutes would have saved me ten - because now I have to do it with Stevie running underfoot. And I'll be late.
And yes, even if you would deem it unnecessary, I do have to do it. I'm not willing to turn in to a slob just because I'm working and have kids. It's not a matter of being a neat freak - - it's wanting a place of order where I can relax and nest. I can't bring myself to unwind in a dump. I don't want to come home to this after a full day of work.
Why is your value of being "laid back" more important than my value of having an orderly environment?
Where's the value of doing something just because you love someone and you know it's important to them?
Am I reading too much into this?
I don't know...somehow, I have become the default everything. Whether you want to admit it or not, the fact that you took Julia today, for example, is you helping me. Is my taking Stevie to the babysitter helping you? Is my doing 90% of the cleaning HELPING?
You do your gourmet cooking every now and then, and you do the food shopping, and some errands, and that supposedly evens everything out. It's like everything is my job - - and you do what you can, what is convenient, to lighten my load.
Why is it my load? Do I not have a job? Do I not sacrifice A LOT already? Am I not the one who is home much earlier than I can afford career-wise for the kids, almost all the time? I do this gladly, but I expect a bit of flexibility and "overtime" from you, as well.
Why is your career more important than mine? I know your work is more demanding, more frenetic, but I do work, as well. I work a lot, and I earn half our income. Why then, am I putting in all of the "extra hours" at home, too?
And why do you assume that I, the default, will always be available for the things that need doing? What if "something comes up" for me? Will you run out of work to handle everything?
When will this maddening thing resolve itself? I feel like I'm talking to a wall, which, right now, I am. Stevie, Mommy's going nuts.