Sometimes getting away with your girlfriends can teach you something important about your marriage.
Tracy McArdle: Well before Swine Flu Mania, I spent five fun margarita- and sleep-filled days in Mexico with old girlfriends from back when I had a waist and an I.Q. My kids are 9 months and 2 years, and most of my mom friends were aghast to hear I was leaving the kids with Dad for 5 days. Some told me they hadn't been away in years. Others said they'd be so worried over what could happen (the sitter lights the house on fire with a joint, the baby accidentally ingests Liquid Plumr) they wouldn't have a good time.
And I thought: Either you married the wrong guy, or you're a control freak. Or (poor you) both.
So I packed bad magazines and garish toe polish, grabbed twice the cash and half the clothes I'd need, and went ... away. After the obligatory I-arrived-safely-what-did-they-have-for-dinner call, I didn't call. Or e-mail. I didn't text or twitter. I hadn't even left written instructions. I defiantly, selfishly thought, he knows how to take care of the kids. This isn't the Navy! I don't need a written schedule for daily life! I figured if anything went wrong, I'd hear.
And when I did call, on the last night after several sangrias and way, way too many chips, I heard. I heard the fatigue and stress in the first "Hi, hon."
"How is everything?" I ventured. "Well," he sighed, "I don't think Ella is coming back." Ella is my most trustworthy babysitter. She does laundry and the kids love her. Did I mention she does laundry? "Um," I said patiently, "why?"
He told me he'd been surprised that there were no set systems in place for Ella. They had a disagreement over what the kids were eating and when. My style is loosey-goosey, hour by hour with babysitters -- because I'm usually around to answer questions and give direction. His is a firm schedule based on consistency and the ability to leave for several hours to -- oh, I don't know, go to a fishing-rod-building class, for example.
I felt awful, and I figured he was stacking up multiple deposits in the "weekend pass" favor bank. When I got home, I realized that we'd learned something important. We parent differently. We direct people differently. And we needed to communicate more. Because if we were more like the Navy, things would have been easier for him while I was away. And what's wrong with that?
|Tracy McArdle is a published author (Confessions of a Nervous Shiksa; Real Women Eat Beef), blogger, mom, wife, horsewoman and Communications professional in the Boston area. She is also a former Hollywood publicity executive who has worked very closely with numerous huge movie stars she never met. You can read more of her writing at www.tracymcardle.net.|