Today I want to talk to you about score keeping. Maybe you are a new parent and know a little bit about this or maybe you have a perfect marriage and have no clue what it is, but let me fill you in. In our house, score keeping is what we call arguing over who does more. It's keeping a mental tally of who has spent more time in the middle of the night with the baby, who has changed more diapers, who has gotten up in the morning more, who has logged more nights alone with him, or who got less sleep and then using it against the other person. It's a constant battle of who did what and who did more that no one can ever win. I think it's pretty normal and I'm sure we're not the only ones that do this, but I'm sick of it. So is my husband. Yet we can't seem to make it stop.
I'll be the first to admit that our marriage isn't perfect. It's pretty damn great, but we definitely have our moments. I love my husband with all my heart and soul, but he drives me absolutely fucking crazy sometimes. And I know I drive him just as nuts (probably more so - he's way easier to deal with than I am). I'm sure that's true for
all new parents all parents all married people anyone that's ever been in a relationship in the history of the world. And that's ok - it's bound to happen. For the most part, we have a very strong marriage and wonderful relationship. What helps a lot is that I think my husband and I have always felt like we were on equal footing in our relationship. We have similar careers with similar paychecks, we both have our own group of friends, we each have hobbies that we enjoy, we both appreciate our free time and independence. Having a baby changes all of that. We are closer now than we've ever been, but becoming new parents is tough on a marriage. Not only are we dealing with sleep deprivation, raging hormones and the stress of trying to raise a child not to grow up to be a serial killer, but we're struggling with our new identity as parents, role models, caretakers. We're no longer Ryan and Sara, or even newlyweds. We're Mac's parents. It's an adjustment. One that we'll probably struggle with for a while - and that's ok too. I know we'll figure it out. Eventually.
But in the meantime, we're playing a dangerous game of keeping score. We both still work full-time. We both still want to have a life outside of being parents. We both still want to have some independence and ability to pursue our passions. We both want to be individuals. But having a baby is a team sport. Our team has 2 captains that both want to run the team. Maybe it's because we're both so competitive, or maybe because we're both struggling with our new identities, but whatever the reason, we keep having the same fight over and over. We each want to one-up the other, have the upper hand, be the better parent. So we use what we do for the baby against each other. It's awful, but it happens. Neither of us feel like what we're doing (whether it's long nights awake rocking the baby or changing diapers) is a punishment or anything. If anything, it's pride - we both want to be the best parent we can and somehow we think that whoever got the least amount of sleep wins. I don't know. It doesn't make sense.
For me, becoming a parent has been the most amazing experience in the world. It was something I had hoped an prayed for for years. It's a dream come true. I'm willing to sacrifice almost anything to be the best parent I can and spend as much time with our little guy as possible. That means that I spent less time with friends, reading, working out, pursuing hobbies and watching crappy TV shows so I can spend more quality time with the baby. I go out less, I travel less, I do less. And my husband has made a lot of the same sacrifices, but not to the extent I have. And I'm fine with that. I think it's good for him to still have a life outside of the baby. But it's also hard not to feel some resentment along with that. I resent that he seems to be able to do it all while I can't seem to do anything but be a mom.
I know that it's important for me to have a life outside of my baby, but it feels so much harder for me. Why is that? Is it just mommy guilt? I miss the baby so much while I'm at work all day, the last thing I want to do is miss hanging out with him in the evening or on a weekend. I need him. The more time I spend with Mac, the more time I want to spend with him. He's growing up so fast, I feel like I can literally see him getting stronger and smarter and bigger by the minute. I don't want to miss a second of it. My husband doesn't either, but he's also much more excited for the baby to get older so they can do things together. He wants a buddy; I want my baby. Will the world end if I miss some evenings with him or have a weekend away now and then? Absolutely not. Will the baby love me any less? No. Will I be happier? Maybe, I don't know. Will I? I do know that I'll miss him like crazy and probably beat myself up about not being there. It's such a vicious circle.
To his credit, my husband's managed to retain some aspects of his former life and keep some hobbies and interests. He still hunts and fishes. He still spends time with friends. He still goes to dinners and concerts and events. I don't. Or at least I don't nearly as much. It's not that I can't, it's that I choose not to. My husband is more than willing to watch the baby while I go out to dinner or get a pedicure or anything, but I don't want to. I want to be with my baby. Therefore, I feel like I automatically "do more" with the baby for this reason alone. So I win. Right? My score is higher! I make more sacrifices. I have less of a life. I'm the winner, but I'm also the loser. I feel like since I'm the mom, I should do more. I should win. That's my job. Obviously my husband doesn't feel like I'm the winner or that I do all the work and make all the sacrifices or else we wouldn't still be having the same fight about who does more. He feels like he's doing the brunt of the work and I feel like he's out of his freaking mind if he thinks that. That's a major disconnect.
We both make deliberate choices and yet I get angry with him for doing the things I wish I could do...but I don't want to do, even though I really do want to do and I can, but I don't. What? It's a no win situation for both of us. And I constantly feel like an asshole for feeling like this. Yet it's not something that I feel like I can fix by just going out more or "getting a life." My choice is to spend time with the baby over everything else and I'm not apologetic for that. I know it's crazy, but I want my husband to make the same choice all the time too. I know that's not realistic or even good for us/him/baby. We'd probably kill each other. I guess maybe I'm just trying to restore that equilibrium that I felt like we used to have in our marriage to our parenting? Or maybe I'm just a tired bitch that wants him to be as exhausted as I am. You know, take one for the team. Misery loves company. (I'm not miserable.)
The funny thing is, I really do think we are a great parenting team. We both contribute, we both make sacrifices, we both love that baby unconditionally. In the end, he's the real winner that has two parents that would do anything in the world for him. I couldn't have chosen a better teammate for this whole parenting experience. I don't want parenting to turn into a competition. I don't want to keep score anymore. And I don't want to win. But how do you get over this mindset? How do you take down the scoreboard? How do you get back to even?
Any other score keepers out there?