Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Contract States What?

Last Saturday, the wife came down the stairs from the bedrooms where the children were milling about, damaging another piece of furniture or testing their theories with gravity on neighbors walking by our home. I'd just served breakfast to your guests at the B&B, taken a shower and read to tackle the day.

"Merry Christmas!" To my wife I exclaimed. Walking by me without even a glance, she said sternly,

"It's not Christmas." With a pause, I thought through my response very carefully, then stated, "Merry Christmas Eve!" hoping to spread this positive embrace I had for the day.

That didn't work. She proceeded to pour herself a refill of mediocre coffee we insist on torturing ourselves with everyday. She turns around, looks at me, "this place is a mess, we have to clean it up."

I looked around, and like a good husband responded appropriately, "I think it looks OK. Who cares, no one's coming over."

Did you get that? There was no "yes dear" or "you're right, we should spend the next four hours before church cleaning 2,400 square feet of sticky fingerprints, spilt sopita and removing hundreds of Lego's forcefully lodged into unnatural crevices in all the furniture." And no, I don't have a death wish or enjoy flying dishes. Let me explain.

The wives Rule the home. It's that simple. Review the fine print of your local County Clerk's marriage application. You think I'm wrong? Ask your grandmother, mother or sister. Or even better, ask your wife. I double-dog-dare you.

Keep in mind this didn't just happened on the happiest day of your life - or the second, or the third. It was actually more like the 750th day. Remember that one Monday morning you woke up and she wasn't in a great mood? It wasn't that she under-slept or that her mother called again last night to discuss her new dog's sweater collection. It's all you - she'd finally reach the breaking point of you not following her daily suggestions including how to properly fill the dishwasher, mixing the colors with the whites, separating the bottles from the cans, vacuuming with the grain of the carpet, brushing in a circular pattern, not east-and-west. She's reached the boiling point.

What happens next? I call it the Coup. For some reason, women can remember everything - every action, comment, conversation whether sober, mildy inebriated or even in your sleep when you were having a discussion with Papa Smurf about existentialism. And so, when your wife reaches her breaking point, your perception of this domestic bliss is over. Be prepared for the List - she will, with exceptional memory recall, begin the Monologue. 

So now think back, was there ever that moment when you were crouched over the bathtub trying to remove that 1/16 of an inch of dis-coloration that your wife insists is mold and you look up, look around and think to yourself, "when did this happen?" Now you know.

Let's steer this conversation back to why I responded to my wife in what could be construed as sado-masochism. Either I'm exceptionally stupid and don't know better, I enjoy a good fight no good reason, or I'm a low-level officer in the underground Husband Independent Movement (H.I.M.). I'd like to think the latter. But to be fair, it's more a combination of the first two options. Will I ever learn? I doubt it - being married for a man can mean many things; a good and dutiful husband, a caring and observant father. But what makes a marriage fun? Well, for me I think I've already explained. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way.

Friday, December 23, 2011

That's Not What I Wanted to Hear

I was sitting in the parent waiting room at Ballet class staring at a wall trying to avoid eye contact with the dozen or so other parents (I was not in the mood for socialization this early Sunday morning). As I turned and watched the room full of 5 year old girls (why wasn't there any boys?) throwing away our money, following the lead of a Ballet Conservatory drop-out, I had to ask - is this what I'll be doing every weekend from here on out?

For all you who don't have the pleasure of spending your Saturdays and Sundays as a chauffeur from piano to ballet to swimming to play dates to sports - I recommend taking a serious look at what you do presently and ask yourself, "do I want to give this all up for 18-25 years?"

Don't kid yourself, I've been there. I watched with sorrow mixed with jealously as dozens of friends would meet up on any given Sunday at the local bar or someones house for endless hours of meaningless football games, processed salty foods, cheap beer and an occasional nutritional intake such as bacon or pepperoni pizza. I used to be invited - and inevitably every autumn someone accidentally calls, texts or emails asking if I want to join in. After they realize the error of their ways - that I'm on the "family wagon," I stop getting the invites for another year. And yes, I'm doing my best to acclimate my children to the nuances (I don't think that's the best word usage, but I can't think of anything else at the moment) of football without any assistance from their mother. But I've had little success in that department this year. Instead I do my best to put the youngest down for a nap some time during the first quarter so I can at least some of the game in. Okay, enough about football - that's but a quarter of the year worth of weekends. Instead, let's focus on the other 38.

The majority of us spend 60-70 hours during the week commuting, working, exercising and at times shopping. Then, we spend a fraction of the day, mostly in the morning or at night with our loved ones saying "hi", "goodbye", "don't forget to take out the trash" or "stop leaving your underwear in the hallway."Now imagine, and I'm talking to the non-parents in the crowd, you throw in mini versions of yourselves without the common sense, the fine motor skills to drive or write legibly. Or, think of height-challenged clones - completely drunk. Then imagine having to teach, console, listen, discipline and introduce them to toilet usage. Oh, and did I mention there's another parent in the house who will have a diametrically opposite opinion on how to raise the drunken clones? Don't even get me started. There will be time in the future for me to get in trouble writing about that.

So here's my point - the orginal one that crossed my mind at ballet. Your life isn't your own anymore, there will be no more spontaneous 10pm rendevous for a secret show, no sleep-ins to 12pm on Saturdays watching Charlie's Angels marathons on TNT til 6pm. Don't get me wrong, you will have your time to hang with the guys or girls or whatever gets you off, but now it will require negotiation, weighing the prioritizations versus the kids and any ancillary activities that you've been invited to by parents you don't know only because your kindergarten child has four boyfriends.

I'm not complaining, let's be frank. What I realized instead that like our offspring, we too have play dates. That's all they are. We don't have the flexibility to be "free" with our free time. And if we do, it's maybe once or twice a year. Like today, some of my token DINK friends decided to have lunch and a beer a few blocks from the homestead. They texted and asked if I'd like to join. Once out of twenty times (and I counted) can I say yes to them. Fortunately due to the wife having the day off, and after a two-hour Skype job interview, I had the pleasure of walking down the street, not in a rush and join them for a few moments. I asked what they were doing for the rest of the day - and they didn't know. Really? You didn't know? Could you at least make up something to the effect of "oh, we have work on the sub pump. We think a dead rat got wedged in there."

Do I envy the DINKs of the world? Sometimes. Do I miss weekend calm mornings with a cup of coffee and a newspaper? Absolutely. Would I ever try and force it back in at the expense of our two wonderful and wild cyclones? Well, maybe - but only for a weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today Begins A New Day

I'm a 44 year-old man with a home life consisting of 2 children under the age six, a wife who works full-time and a home-business that requires nominal supervision yet there's a 24-hour access to my psyche. Oh, and did I mention I don't have a full-time job? I spend my days traveling from this school to that school, picking up and dropping off the children for their classes, therapy sessions and in between try to amuse myself either with reading the Fox News or Rush Limbaugh website. No, I'm not kidding. Have you ever visited these sites and read the content? By no means do I agree with any of it, but to better understand what others believe, you have to see where they get their information. And yes, my IQ drops 5-10 points temporarily every time I spend more than five minutes on the sites. I have to the visit ESPN to even begin to feel like myself again....

Today started like any other - getting the kids ready for school using the same techniques a dentist would use when extracting a stubborn, abscessed tooth;

Step One: Gently massage the gums with a numbing agent (or "Sitting down gently next to the child as they stubbornly cling to Mom")
Step Two: With a massive needle inject the gums with Novocain (or "Tell the child about all the wonderful things they are going to do that day - be as specific as possible")
Step Three: With said pliers, pry the tooth out of the mouth (or "Tear off the sheets and grab the child as they Whine & Wail like a waterboarded Sunni")
Step Four: Fill the whole with dressing to stop the bleeding (or "Attempt to clothe the writhing child as they protest by going limp")
Step Five: Don't eat or drink for 3-4 hours following the procedure (or "Refuse to eat up to 4 different breakfast offerings")
Step Six: Take care of the co-pay and leave the premises (or "Give in to pleading to buy the school lunch instead of brown-bagging it")

That's day - 5 days a week. Like any other parent, you become desensitized to daily the routine, always expecting the same reactions from the rugrats yet subconsciously anticipating a possible change based on their attitude. Whatever. They're kids - let's get them dressed, fed and out the door.

That's my first entry. Let's see how it goes from here.