Monday, August 01, 2011

First Ever

It is far easier to ignore my blog than to figure out how to sum up the last month. But I’m going to fill you in.

I went on “vacation” with my in-laws, who are lovely people, but are not my parents. Hence, things with them are just different. And it’s OK (sometimes tense, sometimes passive-aggressive) but OK. However, at a certain point, a certain 2-year old’s meltdowns coincided with my husband announcing that he was going fishing for 5 hours 5 minutes from now (not asking, but proclaiming) first thing in the morning after I had gotten 4 hours of sleep because of various child-related overnight waking things, and I had my first-ever bout of PMS. And I lost it. I lost my shit all over the place. It was not pretty. In fact, I had never actually hissed anything before.

My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. We had never up until that “vacation” had a fight before. We had disagreed about things, but never what I would classify as a fight. I stormed off the next morning with the kids. I took them to McDonald’s for pancakes and then the pharmacy since Bobo developed some kind of rash. I had actually contemplated putting them in the car and driving them home by myself. That’s when I knew I was blowing things out of proportion. Royally.

And wouldn’t you know the next time I went to the restroom, I had my period (and had not packed in a vacation supply of “supplies”). Yay! It was Cycle Day 25 and was one of the most classic PCOS periods evah! It lasted 2 weeks, which is super awesome, was gone for a couple of days, and then came back. For good measure.

I guess my husband was mad at me after my outburst, for which I refused to apologize because, really, who leaves during a child’s tantrum when I’m supposed to be on “vacation”? So I didn’t apologize, and he didn’t talk to me for two weeks. It was all pretty gruesome. Eventually, I apologized for overreacting. We have resolved that we have a difference of opinion as to how vacations should be spent.

Mostly, he thinks he’s on vacation and should get to relax and he thinks I should dump our kids with his parents so I can spend my time alone.

Except, I want to spend my vacation spending time as a family since in our real lives we get very few chances to do that. And I don’t want to be alone because I work in a building by myself all day and commute to and from work by myself. I spend a ridiculous amount of time by myself as it is. I want to spend time with my husband and children on vacation.  And if children are going to be dumped upon my in-laws, I really think it is my husband who should do the dumping because they are his parents.
So, our “vacation” usually involves him going off to relax by himself to do whatever he wants to do and me taking care of both kids by myself in the Northwoods of Wisconsin without the benefit of our normal toys or routines.

So, we’re not sure how to get past this, but this is the 10th or 11th time I have gone on this vacation and the longer we have kids, the worse this gets because the work load on me increases every year. Potty accident overnight…I’m washing sheets out in the sink and hanging them over the railing of the cabin’s deck so the kids have somewhere to sleep the next night. I keep telling myself (every single year) that it’s just one week and I need to suck it up because this is the only thing my husband looks forward to all year, and yet, I hate it so much, I don’t know how I can possibly go back next year (and we’re already booked for next year since he reserved our spot when he paid the bill).

It’s an agree to disagree kind of scenario. Oh, and I had dreams this year, since we bought the waverunner, of me just hopping on the waverunner while he was out and taking the kids on long rides, except it was so cold and rainy that it just wasn’t possible much of the time...nor was the park, the nature center, the guided nature walk, the wildlife rehab center. The only fun indoor thing I found was a hotel that would let you pay to go to their pool. That was a blast.

So, great and powerful readers, how would you resolve this conflict?  (Note:  I only get 3 weeks of vacation so taking another week-long family vacation is not going to happen because my vacation time is used for the first day of school, the class parties, field trips, parents' programs at school, volunteering in the classroom, Christmas, and covering the nanny's vacation days.)


  1. FWIW, I don't think you overreacted. You lost your shit, yes. But, quite frankly, IMHO, it's amazing that after 10 of these 'vacations', you didn't lose your shit earlier or more often.

    What drives me nuts about being the parent that does the night waking stuff (or does the majority of all the other parenting stuff) is that the other parent just doesn't get it. They don't get how hard it is to be always on. And in the case of sleep deprivation, just how debilitating it is. I swear that just acknowledging that would go a long way.

    But that's not what you asked. The only way I've figured out how to resolve a conflict for which you basically 'agree to disagree', yet still need to find some compromise to make it work is this: alternate. It may not be ideal, but at least everyone's needs are met some of the time.

    One year he gets to have a week vacation where he does whatever he wants and you take care of the kids*. And the alternate year you get your family vacation with your husband fully involved and participating in parenting duties.

    *I kind of think that you should also have the option to go where you want with the kids so that it's easiest on you.

    I also think that both of your needs have to be recognized as valid by the other (even if it's not your/his preference). And that the person who doesn't have their choice for the year gets 2 or 3 weekends of their choice (i.e. family activity/together time for you and time off for him).

    The other option is to split the week into two: 1/2 of the week his way, 1/2 your way. This may be more realistic. But I would still try to work in each of your respective priorities a few weekends of the year. Easier said than done. I know.

    My DH often comments how we never fought before we had a kid. I do think the stakes are higher in the way that you don't have the luxury of just 'agreeing to disagree', and each person does their own thing. You HAVE to find a compromise/solution on key things and priorities so that everyone can be reasonably fulfilled, feel respected, etc. Actually, I think this is true weather or not you have kids. But it's easier agreeing to disagree and skirting the issue of finding a compromise when you don't have kids.

  2. I agree, I don't think you overreacted! I would really resent going on a vacation where only one parent has parenting responsibilities and the other one is "off duty." (My husband had similar delusions when our daughter was young and we took her to Hawaii, FWIW.) It sounds like you both have the same quantity of vacation time, so I'm not sure why your husband's desires drive the choice of destination, etc. Every year?

    Our solution: prior to our next vacation, we mapped out our plans for personal time vs. family time-- literally mapped it out day by day! We didn't actually follow it exactly, but having laid it out helped reassure me that I would in fact get some time to relax myself (without arguing about it in the moment), and that we would also do some fun activities together. I think my husband was reassured that the week wouldn't be sucked up by kid/wife stuff and suddenly he never got to do the adult things he wanted to do. I definitely framed it as an issue of fairness, reducing my anxiety (in my case), and as a method to avoid a fight while we were supposed to be *enjoying* our vacation! Our daughter is now 4.5 and it's gotten easier to incorporate her into mutually fun activities... that has reduced both of our senses of urgency for "time off" although of course doing things with her is not the same as "relaxing," per se-! Also, what are other things that your husband could build into the rest of the year/occasional weekends, so there wasn't all this pressure from him to make one week suffice for the year?

  3. Count me in the camp that doesn't think you overreacted. Maybe you "reacted in a less than optimal way"- but I don't think the current arrangement is even within spitting distance of fair, and I don't think any parent should think that he can go on vacation with his family and have it be a vacation from his kids.

    Unfortunately, I have no real advice on how to solve this problem, since traveling (with or without kids) is one area that my husband and I are in pretty good sync on. Now, if you want to talk about stupid arguments about who does more around the house- well that topic I know a lot about, which is pretty funny since I think that an objective observer would put our chores split at pretty close to 50-50.

    Anyway, back on topic... it sounds to me like your husband has some deep seated gender role issues to work through. He probably grew up with the idea that the kids were the mom's responsibility, and if he internalized that, there's some work to get to a more equal place.

    In his defense, I think @the_milliner is right- if you're not the one who is sleep deprived, it is damn hard to understand what it feels like and act appropriately. Hell, I forget what it feels like anytime I manage to get myself out of it for a week or so- and it has been my fairly constant state, at some level, for about four years.

    But he still needs to help you find a solution.

    I think the earlier comments both had good ideas for practical solutions to try. But really, the key is going to be sitting down and arguing it out in a respectful way. Good luck with that. Can I suggest having a beer while you do it? It always helps us resolve our differences over the chores.

  4. creatingbalance8/07/2011 02:53:00 PM

    Okay haven't read your blog YET:) But love that I came here to say hi after reading your comments on Moxie for years and then I go over to Dr.Momma and am reading along in the comments and then there you are, holy cow! Maybe I found Dr. Momma because of you I don't really remember because I started running last December and I was still sort of sleep deprived which is what brought me to Moxie( the kid who didn't sleep) and I met my good friend aka the Milliner who is my sleep/toddler buddy and here she is posting on your blog along with Cloud. Funny but I almost know who's comment is who's on Moxie just by reading a few sentences, such a great community!! I too live in Chicagoland:) Forest Park actually, should you ever want to go for a run...... I go by creatingbalance on Moxie but in real life Elizabeth. Will get to reading now:) Just thought ahhh what a small world the internet is and had to come post! Cheers!