The Pregnant Waddle

Pre-Pregnancy Weight Just Around the Corner (It's Trying to Run and Hide)

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I don't usually write about marital spats on this blog--aside from the whole issue with the bungalows--but of course we've dealt with this on our end and I am curious to see what my Internet buddies have to say on the subject.

Since I've been sick, the Husbandlet has been beyond wonderful picking up the slack. He's made every dinner, washed dishes (usually my job), and cleaned our house all over. Every day as we'd come home from work, church, etc., he'd tell me, "I just want you to go lie down and rest. I'll take care of everything." And he has.

But I haven't rested, for the most part. Because the one job left to me has been baby care. And our precious, adorable baby is a little wiggler, a crawler, and a cuddler who is experimenting with twisting herself into pretzels during diaper changes, and who loves nothing better than constant contact with and attention from Mommy. I can't complain about that. I love playing with her. But the last few days, my energy has been so low, and every time I'd bend over to pick her up I'd feel dizzy; she didn't want to play for herself for very long, but would rather be held and lunge out of Mommy's arms at things, and it was a constant series of leaning over, lifting, putting down, picking up, balancing, catching, etc. etc. etc. All stuff I'm used to and love and enjoy, part of Mommydom, usually no big deal. But I was so tired.

So, coming home yesterday, after some talk of whether dinner was going to take a lot of preparation, I said to the Husbandlet, "You tell me every day to go rest, but I'm dealing with the baby, and I'm not resting at all."

Pause a moment and digest the full ouchiness of this. The poor Husbandlet had been working his tushie off to do all the work for both of us. My point--and there was other talk around this leading up to my comment--was NOT that the Husbandlet should do all that AND take care of the baby. I was just trying to say that if something less essential could be cut out--the dishes left unwashed, maybe a simple dinner prepared rather than a complicated one--and he could divide the baby-wranglin' with me, that would be more what I actually needed than, say, a sink free of dirty dishes. But it still sounded ungrateful and slave-driverish, and much talking-out was required. The Husbandlet was understandably hurt.

So here's my question: If someone is bending over backwards to help you, and it is helpful and you appreciate it and the person would be hurt if you suggested that the helpfulness was NOT appreciated due to the consuming nature of the helpfulness, BUT you actually would like a different sort of helpfulness, do you

a) Just let it slide. After all, the person is being helpful and self-sacrificial and caring, and what he's doing is helpful, necessary, and appreciated.
b) Bring it up, thus running the risk of sounding ungrateful and demanding, not to mention hurting the person's feelings as he sees all that hard work being dashed in his face.

I'm really curious.

P.S. I'm also really sorry, Husbandlet.


At 9:00 PM, Blogger Jordana said...

2 amendments:

First, of course, tone of voice must be taken into account. I don't think I sounded irritated, but I'm willing to accept that my comment could have been more delicately put.

Second is the fact that Ngaire occasionally prefers Mommy. After the discussion, the Husbandlet tried to take over some feeding and playing, and she would have none of it, mostly due to tiredness, sore gums, and angst.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous peter said...

Ngaire has angst? Holy Nietzche! What do they teach children in schools these days?

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always take help, and never criticize the help you're given. Take it from a mom of two and wife of one. When help is offered is not the time to be renegotiating about what kind of help you need and when. That's the time to smile gratefully and say, "Thanks, honey, that'll be great." Then, later--like another day or two days later--bring up a discussion about what you need help with when there's nothing going on and have a rational, adult discussion about it.

You don't have to do it by yourself. You do have to let him do what he says he's going to do in his own way.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Alysia said...

Rebecca speaks truth ... although, if you're getting desperate, a careful/casual, "Honey, would you mind taking our young Jabberwock for half an hour [or whatever time frame] after dinner so I can take a nap? I'll do the dishes in the morning." Or some permutation thereof.

I, too, have a most helpful husband. Sometimes he, alas, helps in a way that wouldn't be quite as helpful at the time as, say, something else. I've tried not saying anything and just being thankful, and usually it works. But in the bigger issues (like this one), I find myself harboring frustration and then a bit of resentment. And also guilt, because I'm not being thankful enough. And then more frustration, because I shouldn't feel guilty for needing some sleep!

In came the husband's two cents: turns out he'd rather know what I need the most than just bumble around, trying to help and getting mad at me for not appreciating the well-intentioned help.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Neb said...

Oy, indeed. Nate and I have had many, many such miscommunications; they seem to spring up when you're least expecting them. I think shortly after we were married, he made our bed in a way to me that looked somewhat untidy, and being the obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I thanked him for doing it and then promptly "remade" it, not realizing that to him it was a statement of ingratitude. This hurt his feelings and I think he hasn't made our bed since then (at least not very much. :-D) I don't have any problems with this because I understand how he feels. We have a fairly simple solution to most housework problems Chez Bush-Wentzel:

We don't do it. :-D

Anyway, I don't really agree with the idea that as long as your spouse is being helpful you should never say anything. Life is tough; a lot of situations (especially like yours, two parents who work full time with a baby and sickness) are so tough that there's no way you can get everything done, so you really have to be honest with each other and work together to prioritize. When Nate is sick, I try to do what I can to help out and take care of him (and he does an awesome job taking care of me when I'm sick!); as long as he asks sweetly, I would *much* rather have him tell me the things that are most helpful to him as opposed to guessing what to do and having my efforts wasted. Maybe he'd like me to cook an actual meal (for once); maybe he'd like me to run to the store for juice; maybe he needs me to run an errand. It's best to know so that I can do what's most helpful.

But the key is all in *HOW* you say what you're thinking. In this situation, you're weren't ungrateful, and you really weren't asking Chris to do MORE work, just trying to express that it would be more helpful to you if he were doing different work; but it sounds like those things didn't come across clearly in what you said.

Maybe something like this would have worked: "Thank you SO much for being so helpful and unselfish these past few days. It's been awesome. I have a question for you- how would you feel about making a simple meal when we get home instead of a complicated one, and then maybe you could watch Ngaire for a bit while I nap? Would that be okay with you?"

With that kind of wording, it's clear to Husbandlet that you're NOT asking him to do *more* than he's doing, and that you're not in any way ungrateful for what he's done so far- you're simply asking how he would feel about changing tasks a bit. Also you're making it clear that you're not *demanding* that he take care of Ngaire, but simply asking, does it make any difference to him what he does to help out? Does he have a preference? You're totally leaving him the option of being honest and saying "Really, I would like to make the complicated meal instead of the simple one." He has a right to say that if that's how he feels, and there wouldn't be anything wrong with that. If he did answer in that way you might feel a little bummed out, but at least you're not frustrated that he doesn't know your real desires and needs, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you asked. And of course, there's a good chance it really *doesn't* matter to him whether he spends more time cooking or baby-wrangling, in which case he'll take the baby and everyone wins.

Now, I cannot emphasize enough: it is so much easier to think of tactful and kind ways to say things AFTER the fact. I totally would have been like you, Jordana, and said something that came across the wrong way. As I said earlier, it has happened many, many times before.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

I say ick! We have been there too. Er, we go there too, I mean. Though we don't claim to have it all solved . . . our book is not quite ready for publishing!! ;p We now try to start off each session of "Let me help you." with fresh negotiations. He will ask what would be the most help or I will ask what he is up to depending on our current set of circumstances. Like Ngaire, Suzan is a Mommy's girl mostly. And though - like you - I love it, she is often the "task" (ick that sounds wrong but you understand) I most need a break from. A good occasional help is "I'll take Suzan to 'xyz' and you nap or wash dishes or whatever you want." It seems that if they get out of the house, Papa becomes infinitely more favorable than when Mommy was an option. AND suffering in peace and quiet is more doable.
Sorry to be long. Hang in there. I've got a sickie asleep on me and I think we'll head for the couch and both catch up.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Nate said...

My best advice-- Since what you said and what you meant could be written differently from each other when you posted it here, what you said should have been what you meant rather than what you said.

Easier said than done, of course, which is why we all have stories about having this situation with lots of people.


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