It’s a typical rainy Seattle morning and my mood matches the weather. I’m feeling a bit lost and uncertain of my life-work stress and relationship stress. R and I were “off” most of the weekend, and then Sunday the blow-up came. I have 5 kids (yes, I said 5!). My eldest (16) wanted to go with me to buy school clothes, so I took my youngest (1 1/2) and we went to the Mall. R works from home as a sportswriter and he works Sundays, so I thought that by taking the youngest that would help him be able to focus on his writing. His job is super stressful-he has to crank out article after article for 9 hours a day, all while watching our 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old. Before I left, I made sure to make our 3 year old lunch so that R wouldn’t have to. As we were driving to the Mall, I got a text from R saying that I should have taken our 3 year old with me. He said that he’s sick of my acting like it’s okay for me to leave one of them with him while I go out on the weekends while he works. Now, the weekends are my days off (I can’t help it if his schedule is different than mine). The only time I go “out” on the weekend is to go grocery shopping and I always take the youngest child with me. I never go out with girlfriends or by myself. My weekends involve errand-running and chores around the house. It’s not like I just go out on my own, playing all weekend. I’ve always tried to be considerate of the fact that he’s working, and so I tend to the kids’ needs so he can focus on his writing. R says that my “alone time” is when I go to hot yoga. I go three times a week, at night except for my Sunday morning class. Sunday morning is no skin off his teeth at all because he and the kids are still asleep by the time I get home. It’s not like he’s up early with them. So, that doesn’t really count. That leaves two nights a week that he’s with the kids while I go to yoga. I started going to help heal my chronic back pain. I’ve had it for three years now due to a car accident I was in. I’ve tried chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, you name it. Nothing has helped. So, the yoga is something I do for health reasons as well as to help me cope with the stress in my life. R says that because I go to yoga weekly, I shouldn’t have anymore alone time on the weekend; it’s all used up.
I hear what he’s saying, but at the same time, I find that point of view unfair. Hot yoga is hard as hell, so it’s not something I do to relax. Anyone who has done it knows what a work-out it really is. Yet I continue to go and push myself because I believe in it and am hoping it will help me eventually.
Our 3 year old is a beautiful, wonderful, funny, smart child, but he’s a handful! Endless energy from morning until nightfall. He is also prone to throwing fits in public because he gets easily frustrated. I’m hopeful that it’s just a stage, but it is what it is for now and so taking him along to go grocery shopping (or the Mall) is a blow-up waiting to happen. Historically, it’s always been stressful. That’s why I did not take him along to the Mall. For R to castigate me for “not acting like the kids are my responsibility” when I’m not working and he is seems grossly unfair to me. I do see the kids as my responsibility-that’s why I don’t go out for alone time on my days off and that’s why I take the one who’s youngest and needs the most care along with me. He acted like I was being selfish by not taking our 3 year old to the Mall and it makes no sense to me. I’m frustrated and feel like R is acting like my jailer, not my friend. I work my ass off every single day. I have a 3 hour daily commute, my work is incredibly stressful and I have 5 children (three of whom are children from my marriage and thus not R’s children). I have endless responsibilities and the work is never done. I chose to have 5 kids and I would not change that for the world. They are my light, my heart and my love and I am beyond proud of each of them for their wonderfully unique qualities. They are my gifts and my blessings.
R and I argued via text (silly, I know but I was out and he was home and this is how we often end up communicating). Finally, I just stopped texting him and it’s been “chilly” in the house ever since. I don’t want to talk to him; I’m angry and frustrated and feel misunderstood. Monday night, he finished work at 6:00 and asked if I was okay with him going golfing (he goes once or twice a week after work). I said that was fine. He came home with clothes for the kids (he stopped by Walmart on the way home from hitting balls at the driving range) and a gift card for me from Marshall’s. I guess he was trying to make things better, but a gift card isn’t going to make this right. It was a nice gesture but it doesn’t fix the problem. He is not seeing this from my perspective at all. I understand how hard it is to be home with the kids and also try to work at the same time; I’ve done that. He is a wonderful father-endlessly patient and I admire the way he handles it all. I just don’t feel that he is being much of a partner to me (and I know he’s feeling the same way about me). We are at a standstill. Our relationship has always been a roller coaster. When we’re on our relationship high, it’s full of passion and love and connection. When we’re low, it’s lonely, cold and frustrating. When I discovered his infidelities that happened in the first two years of our relationship, I almost left him but we went to counseling and really worked on moving past it. Our communication got better and we both were invested in making it work. Sure, I still have my days when I think of what he did and I’m left feeling angry and hurt. Then I move past it (for the day, at least) and focus on what we have now and the family we’ve created. He’s grown in so many ways since those early years. Getting over or coming to terms with the hurt he caused me has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yet I’ve hung in there because I’ve believed in the love we share.
I would like to believe that the love we’ve always had will get us through this rough patch. Right now though, I don’t feel that hopeful. The frustration and feeling of being unsupported and misunderstood is too great. I can’t force him to see things my way. He wants to just gloss over everything and get back to where we were, but I see no point in that. It will just come up again and again unless we reach a resolution. I’m not going to go crawling to him and I’m not going to pretend that everything is alright.