Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'll do it, but don't ask me to be happy about it

I'm just going to say it. A lot of parenting involves obligation.

When you have a baby, you are suddenly obliged to respond to every need, physical and emotional, in order to ensure their well-being.

To encourage every dream, allowing them to learn and grow and experience in an effort to raise a human being that is simultaneously educated, compassionate, and a contributing member of society.

To support every effort, whether it be trying out for a team, or pooping. (And the amount of time I spend dealing with constipation is just unreal. Seriously.)

So tonight, when my daughter came into our room crying because she had leg cramps (an experience that I remember all too well from my own childhood) I got up out of bed, and dragged myself to her room, and rubbed the mentholated cream on her legs, and tucked her into bed.

By the time I got back to my room, I was wide awake and my hands reeked. The skin between my fingers was burning slightly, despite washing my hands. Neighborhood dogs (thankfully not MINE) were barking, and the light from my laptop was blinking, and I lay there aggravated as my husband snored beside me. I was glad to be the one she wanted, the one she came to when she needed comfort, but I was pretty sick and tired of being the one who's sleep was interrupted. Because my husband can literally wake up, and take a crisis phone call or soothe a sobbing child or chase a strange dog out of the yard, and then climb back into bed and be asleep in about 30 seconds. I, on the other hand, could be woken up by the slightest noise and then lie there for hours, frustrated and wide awake, while the world slumbers on around me.

So here I am. It's 12:40am. I have been awake since midnight. I started to doze off, but Lucy came BACK into our room after about 10 minutes to let me know that her legs still hurt. And I have to admit, I was less supportive in my response the second time. I got back out of bed, and went down the hall to see what, exactly, she wanted me to do to solve this problem, short of amputation.

She didn't have any ideas, so I suggested that perhaps she should just lie there for a while and try to fall back asleep. My husband had already taken my advice and was snoring loudly. For the second time, he had not only avoided getting out of bed, but in fact had barely registered that there was any issue at all with our child's comfort and well-being. I find it remarkable that a man who slept in this morning while I got up with the kids and made lunches and fed and walked the dogs, the same man who then woke me from a much needed afternoon nap, was now going to lay there and let me (and my sleep-deprived self) take the bullet once again.

I find it remarkable because this man, my darling husband, knows that my capacity for retribution - especially when it relates to interrupted sleep - knows no bounds. Tomorrow, he will reap what he has sowed. The children will wake up chipper, and I will entertain them as a good mother would. And during the course of the day I will make sure to drop several references to "when daddy gets home" as in "Sure sweetie, you can make cupcakes with DADDY when he gets home." and "When DADDY gets home he will help you clean up that pile of dog shit in the yard" and "I am not sure what's for dinner - LET'S ASK DADDY."

Because really, I just want him to feel involved. And obligated. It's only fair.
I don't want to be a glory hog - though clearly, judging by this note, I am the favorite.

No comments: