Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Continental Divide...
The continental divide in your marriage starts with a small fissure and grows from there. Here’s an example. You enter marriage and have children with the idea that everything is going to be roughly 50/50. Other than breastfeeding you didn’t want there to be anything that you couldn’t do with your children. Changing diapers, bathing them, cooking their food when they were older. Everything.
But here’s how reality sometimes works. Since you’re the breadwinner and you’re gone 60 – 70 hours a week, the wife starts doing a lot of the heavy lifting. She has a particular way she makes the food, a certain way she changes the diapers, and so on. And since being a mother is everything to her she gets pretty militant for the first time in her life. When you’re off the road or back from the office you want to pitch in and do your share. You’re looking forward to it, even. I mean they are your kids too and you should be able to handle just about everything.
But when you defrost the breast-milk from the freezer you don’t quite do it the way she does. Meaning you heated it for 23 seconds instead of 25 and those two seconds make for the advent of the apocalypse. And by the way when you strap on your daughter’s diaper you sometimes make it a bit too tight since you’re out of practice and you don’t always pull the folds down on her leg to prevent leakage. So the wife is pissed because she’s been doing it forever and it isn’t too hard and here you are screwing things up and the poo and piss are going to leak all over her because the diaper wasn’t put on right. Now you’re pissed because you work your ass off to make a comfortable life for your wife and kids and by the way, most of the parents you know BOTH have to work and your wife doesn’t so she should be grateful she’s even around 24/7 to change diapers and make baby food to begin with.
So you start saying “screw it.” Since I’m so bad at this let her make the food and change the diapers all the time. It’ll make her happy because she’ll get to do it right every time and you’ll be happy because you won’t feel like an ass for being told how wrong you’re doing it. Only she isn’t happy because she thinks she shouldn’t have to change the diapers and make the food every single time. She’s peeved because you aren’t pitching in and you are the dad after all and she knows two dads down the street who change diapers without the apocalypse descending on mankind and why can’t you either? And she’s further pissed because she has no free time because she’s covering for your ass when you should be helping out.
Now you’re pissed because you’ve busted your ass at your job and when you get home your self-esteem takes a bath because now you’re convinced you can’t heat milk and strap a piece of cloth to your child. And you say "screw it mom, go do it yourself." So six months later you realize that mom does just about everything, she resents it and you resent it too but you don’t talk much about it cause that’s just how it is and there are other battles to fight and you have to pick them carefully because by 8pm at night you feel like a zombie and you’re ready for 38 hours of sleep.
Welcome to the fissure. Congratulations. You’re well on your way to the continental divide. Enjoy the view.