Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Three Completely Unjustified Grudges I'm Holding Against My Husband

For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to post a tribute to my hubby – something affectionate and lyrical that would capture how much I appreciate him. But perhaps the best I can do is refer you to Her Bad Mother’s words on the subject of the Good Husband, and use this space instead to vent. Because if there’s one thing that drives a wife crazy, it’s those totally unjustified resentments that have to be firmly squelched. A genuine grievance can at least be aired out and resolved, but the unreasonable grudges are the ones that fester.

1) He has more fun than I do.
In the craziness that is my teaching schedule this year, I am doing two thirds of the year’s paid work in a six-week period that ends sometime next week (whenever I finally finish marking the Stack of Papers that Never, Ever Goes Away). My workload is such that when I leave the house without my children in tow, it is for one of two reasons: (1) I’m going to work; or (2) I’m going to pick them up from daycare (to bring them home where they will promptly melt down, crying in perfect unison and scrabbling at their high chairs wanting to be fed, instantly, while I dart around the kitchen like a madwoman, gathering up raisins and chickpeas and Heinz toddler-size chicken cacciatore while the macaroni and cheese heats in the microwave and Bub screams, over and over again, "Zero! Beep!").

To be strictly truthful, I have experienced out-of-the-home amusement on exactly two occasions since the beginning of July: one was a date with hubby, which I spent secretly calculating how much blogging/marking I could have accomplished in the time it took to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and the other was an ice-cream outing with a friend. If there is one bright spot in the bleak landscape of my life right now, it’s the yumminess of a waffle cone filled with cinnamon ice cream blended with a crushed Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. (Do you Americans have Coffee Crisp down there, south of the border? It’s like a KitKat, only bigger and yummier and more like coffee.)

But to return to the topic of my grudge against the husband, my two nights of giddy freedom in the last two months are balanced by the fact that last weekend alone he went out with his friends two nights out of three. He didn’t leave until the children were in bed, and I spent both nights marking exams, so his bacchanalia had no actual effect on me other than to render me green with envy. That is not a mitigating factor, though: With every miserable paper I marked, the hate got a little bit deeper.

2) He gets/needs more sleep than I do.
Most mornings Bub gets up between 6:19 and 6:22 am. (On the other mornings he wakes up, shrieking, at 5:45. This morning was one of those "other mornings.") Three mornings out of four, I get up and hubby sleeps until the Pie awakens, usually an hour later. This isn’t entirely a bad thing – I pour out Bub’s bowl of Mini Wheats, then check my Bloglines, read the paper, and drink my coffee. Every once in awhile, though, the 6 am wake-up is too much for me – I struggle into consciousness only to find that hubby is already up, so I collapse back into bed and return blissfully to sleep. The less blissful part occurs after I get up. I wander downstairs to find Hubby stretched out on the couch, looking like death. As soon as I enter the room, he stumbles to his feet and heads upstairs, mumbling something about going back to sleep. Which he does. For another hour, or sometimes two. And I spend this time fuming.

One of the more useful thing I’ve learned about marriage over the years is that sometimes equality matters less than need. If I’m stumbling around in a zombie-like state, it’s okay to have a nap and leave hubby in charge, even if I haven’t "earned" this privilege on a quid pro quo basis. Conversely, if hubby takes a nap, that act suggests that he’s feeling sleepy – not that he has decided that he deserves it because I’ve been failing to pull my weight. "I’m going back to sleep now" does not translate to "Get moving, you lazy cow, and try looking after your own kids for once."

So I know that the late-morning nap simply means that hubby is too tired to function, and that it’s not really relevant that I manage to function most days on no more than six hours of sleep. I do reserve the right, however, to collapse on the couch as soon as he gets home from work tonight if I’m exhausted from my efforts to prepare supper, clean up pureed sweet potatoes from the floor, and wipe peanut butter out of the inside of Bub’s nose.

3) He didn’t clean up the kitchen on Sunday night.
After the Pie was born, the division of labour in my family tended to go along gender lines: it was Hub and Bub vs. Pie and I. Since the Pie has been weaned, I’ve managed to reclaim my son: not only do I usually get up with him at breakfast, but I also put him to bed at night, even though his routine is quite a bit longer than the Pie’s simple storybook-and-lullaby. The half hour I spend with the Bub each night before bed is the one thing that has kept me sane this month, so it’s not a task I’m willing to share.

Bedtime around here is awash in sentimentality. By day, the Bub is fiercely autonomous, but as soon as we cuddle into his bed at night, he becomes sweetly affectionate. "Noses!" he’ll announce, and we’ll lean in, nose-to-nose, for an Eskimo kiss. Not satisfied with this nauseating display of mother-son tenderness, I’ve recently upped the ante with – are you ready? – Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever. The Bub is strangely mesmerized by this book; when I sing the chorus he smiles a small, secret smile, and when my voice starts wobbling as the story reaches its tear-jerker conclusion, he looks at me with frank curiosity, intrigued by the occasional tear I brush hastily from my cheek. He loves this book, and I love reading it to him, even though when I teach it in a Children’s Literature course, I always skewer its adult values and morbidly strange mother-son relationship (for those of you who haven’t read the book or GingaJoy’s fabulous post on the subject, suffice it to say that the mother in this story expresses her love for her adult son by driving across town with a ladder to break into his apartment).

While all this mother-son bonding is going on, I expect hubby to pick up toys and clean up the kitchen. I continue to expect this despite the fact that it never happens. Typically, once Bub is settled I come downstairs and get to work. At some point before I emerge from my office at eleven o’clock, the toys and dishes are magically put away. On Sunday night, for some reason, I didn't do this. Hubby was talking on the phone in the office, which meant I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on marking, so I unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned up the kitchen table, picked up the toys, and simmered, simmered, simmered. By the time I was finished, it was almost bedtime and my stack of exams remained unmarked, which meant I was up past midnight last night finishing them, and then up at 5:45 this morning when Bub came shrieking from his room.

Maybe what I need to do is ditch the martyrdom act and just go have a fucking nap.


mamatulip said...

No way. Don't ditch it...I'm so glad to know someone else is holding unjustified grudges against their husbands. I'm still sore that Dave gets scheduled lunch breaks and can pee in private.

Tina C. said...

Wow. It's like you're in my head. at least one other mother (me) is feeling exactly the same way. we had words about it last night actually!!! simmer done boiled over.

Mary-LUE said...

I don't think we have Coffee Crisp down here. At least not in So-So Cal. My French Canadian friend is always talking about treats like Coffee Crisp and ketchup flavored potato chips and all the other "good" stuff he can't get here in the states!

Regarding grudges, right now, I am such a horrible, horrible person. I've been having some sleep issues and, oh, the things that bother me and the language I want to use. It would make a sailor blush. Thankfully I keep it (the bad language) in my head. Most of the time! ;)

Veronica Mitchell said...

I think your title and tone express as much love as any paean of praise. Also less boastfully.

We've all felt it, we all get it. We resent him because we'd feel too guilty simmering against the people really responsible for disrupting our lives. The short people with the big eyes and enthralling hugs. Cute little monsters.

Her Bad Mother said...

That's the thing abotu a good marriage - the love can live with the grudges.

I know this - I hold many grudges. Too many to list. But I wouldn't change him. That is, I wouldn't change him MUCH.

metro mama said...

Summer courses are brutal, I know from the student's view. So much condensed in such a short time.

bubandpie said...

ASevereMary (am I allowed to add capitals?) - Oops, you caught me. My very first blog-swear. I'm feeling a bit red-faced about it, I must say.

Veronica - You're so right. When something really frustrating is happening with the you-know-whos, I always simmer away thinking, "How can I blame this on hubby? How can I make this his fault?" Because somehow I'll feel better if there's an adult handy to blame.

Mayberry said...

There is almost nothing that gets me more aggravated than hearing "but I'm tiiiiiiiired" from the man who did not get up with the baby at night at any time in the first YEAR.

So bring on the vents, I say!

Mother Bumper said...

I too hold these grudges, especially, ESPECIALLY number three - you got me with "While all this mother-son bonding is going on, I expect hubby to pick up toys and clean up the kitchen. I continue to expect this despite the fact that it never happens." What IS with that? I always think it's going to happen and it doesn't. I'm so glad I'm not alone, I hope that makes you feel a smidge better.

Pieces said...

I love Coffee Crisp. The Loved and I have been known to take trips to BC just to eat Coffee Crisp. Very, very hard to find down here.

And I canNOT read Love You Forever. Makes me cry EVERY time.

OddMix said...

"Zero! Beep!"
"Zero! Beep!"
"Zero! Beep!"
"Zero! Beep!"


You wanna bet that hubby has a similar list that he never airs?

Mary-LUE said...

Please feel free to add capitals. I should try to make a point of doing that. My uncle first read it as: As Ever Mary, which I guess works, too!

Thanks for doing Sleeping with Bread. It really is a great way to pause and think in the midst of your life. Always a good thing.

My husband is up in Canada right now on business. Burlington? Near Toronto. He did a drive by of Niagara Falls today. He was too lazy to walk too far and too cheap to pay $18 to park.

I hope you hang in there 'til that class is over!

kittenpie said...

Ha, she laughs bitterly.
Yes, when Misterpie announced at one point tht he wanted "to have some fun this summer" before starting his new job, I must admit, my inner reaction was to snort and wonder why he was entitled to fun when his job so far this summer has been at home and pretty flexible, while I get no fun. My holiday at the end of the summer is in fact timed so I can help him set up his new classrooms. Yee-freaking-ha.

But he does try to split mornings with me.

nonlineargirl said...

To crab is human, to vent divine.

Becky said...

I don't know about coffee crisp, but I miss crispy crunch. But we have Heath bars down here in the US. They make up for the lack of all-things-Cadbury.

I think the craziest thing about Love You Forever is that you can be super-emotional while reading it, and at the same time super-disturbed by the creepiness. I've owned the book for over a decade, knew the story and was fully emotionally-detached from it. It wasn't until after my kid was born and I tried to read it to him that I was sobbing and unable to speak by the time I reached the last page.
Vent away girlfriend.

Mommy off the Record said...

First things first: No, we don't have Coffee Crunch down here. No fair! I'm adding this to the list of why I want to move to Canada--right under "free healthcare".

And my only tidbit to add is that perhaps if Lorena Bobbit had vented a bit more, her husband would not have lost his penis. Venting keeps us sane.

H.A.Page said...

I still love naptime all these years later. I still think anyone that spends all day together needs a time to separate. I still think me having "quiet time" when "naptime" was outgrown was a good idea. Time spent reading, writing or just enjoying time alone.

And yes, sleep deprivation is hard. It happens again when they are teenagers.
MotherPie Cheers.

lildb said...


you -- gasp.

you mean business when the f-bomb gets dropped.

I think you need, no, DESERVE damn nap.

and *hug* for getting through the last patch of marking.


gingajoy said...

hmm. yeah, i would be harboring grudges big time on some of those.--not *so* unjustified, unless there is more stuff he does do that you're not telling us here;-)

hate to be mundane, but have your talked to him about sharing the load?

coffee crisp--here's a weird thing. you *can* buy it over here at our local supermarket, but it's in the "ethnic" aisle in the British section! I've never seen it in the UK at all--but now I just realize they are confusing us with the canooks (you *do* have our queen on your money after all. heh)

Kristen said...

I'm starting to think these are universal couple w/ kids issues. Argh.

I can relate.

That's all I have to say about that.