- "Hey, I'm old enough to run for the presidency!" (even though I would never want that position because I think my quality of life would be terrible)
- "Hm, I'm half-way to 70."
Monday, February 11, 2013
The fact that the second thought came and went without causing any sort of consternation struck me as a good sign. I'm content with where I've been in my life, where I am, and where I'm going. I'm trying to make the most of this "one wild and precious life."
Every year, I try to plan the exact kind of birthday that will satiate my needs at the time. For a couple years in a row, I planned a Random Acts of Kindness Scavenger Hunt. For my 30th birthday, we went all out and rented a cabin in the mountains for a huge group of our friends (a couple of whom even flew in from different parts of the country!).
This year, I simply wanted to go to a hotel by myself for an evening. I know it might sound depressing to some or worrisome to others, but it was exactly what I wanted as we come up on this new phase in our life. I feel like the tidal wave that Henry brought into our lives is subsiding (he turns two at the end of this month) and yet we are walking straight into the next one. I know I'm going to be overwhelmed with gratitude and love for our expanding family (I already am), but I am also anticipating that I will struggle with the year of breastfeeding, the baby's struggle with sleep, and the responsibility of needing to take care of another human being every second, minute, and hour of the day.
For this birthday, I simply wanted some sustained, uninterrupted time in a comfortable place. Since we are on a tight budget, I decided to pay for the hotel out of my personal allowance, which is why I opted for Air BNB. I was able to find a bedroom in a quaint little bungalow in East Austin for a total of $56.
It was exactly what I needed: wood floors, natural light, solitude, quiet, focus, introspection, sleeping and waking on my own schedule, stretching out in bed.
It wasn't so easy for Matt to support this idea. I broached the subject with him about a month in advance. At first he jokingly asked if this request was "a precursor to divorce." I tried to explain why I needed this time away, and he really seemed to understand. But when I actually booked the room earlier in the week, he started to feel sad and uneasy.
I tried to explain again that being a mother who aims to breastfeed her baby for at least a year but chooses not to pump means that I will literally be tethered to our baby for at least 365 days straight. With Henry, I didn't have my first night away until he was a year and four months (Matt's parents watched him for us in Indiana and we escaped to Michigan for a weekend). I think it's difficult for Matt to empathize because a) he thinks he would choose to pump if he were a breastfeeding mom, which means he could have time to himself sooner and b) he gets more frequent time away when he travels for work (it's not often, but it's definitely more than I'm away).
The conversation led to a heated disagreement about equity in our relationship. Matt didn't think it was fair that he didn't get what he wanted on his birthday (which was to run 30 miles). I reminded him that he was the one who opted not to run 30 miles because our friends were in town from Florida, and I explained that he should have advocated for himself if he really wanted to do it at a later time (I even offered to let him do it in March, once I've submitted the charter application).
The disagreement also unearthed other bitterness that Matt feels about having to take on more than his fair share. It's definitely true that he has taken on more lately. I struggled through my first trimester--miscarriage--first trimester period, and now that it's over, I'm consumed by getting the 200-page charter application done and raising $400,000 by February 28th. I was upset that Matt seems to willingly take on extra work but then lets his resentment build. I also try not to let him take on extra work unless I really have to.
We're committed to continuing to talk about these issues until we come to a place that we both feel good about. I have some specific next steps in mind about how to make better use of my free time, so that I can maximize it and not ask Matt for more. I also think things will naturally feel better in March, April, May, and June as the external stress from the charter deadline lifts and we can enjoy our little family of three even more before our sweet addition arrives.