Friday, April 01, 2005

Emotional Rollercoaster.

Have you ever completely misread your partner’s reaction to a situation? I did this morning...

My day started at 3:30 with my 3 yr old son T crying in our bed. My wife was doing an excellent job consoling him, so I left our bed and headed for his. I immediately fell back to sleep. Some time later I heard my 1 year old daughter screaming to get out of her crib. Most mornings I will leave her in her crib and she will settle herself back down. My five year old L had other ideas.
L was up and proclaimed that she had taken M out of her crib.
"Did you lock the saftey gate to the downstairs?" I asked.
"Yes daddy." She replied.
I slowly began to motivate to get out of bed. This usually takes me about 5 minutes. Somewhere in those 5 minutes I heard my wife yell:
"M is out of her crib and the gate is not up!"
That got me moving.
I bounced out of bed and tried to locate our youngest. My wife had M in her arms and she briskly handed her off to me and headed back to bed. I recognized that she had been up with T in the night, so I figured I would suck it up and take the morning shift. What time was it anyway?
5:15. Ouch. I ordered my oldest back to bed and lied on the floor in M's room while she played around me. After about 30 minutes it was clear that M was not going back to bed anytime soon. I got her dressed and began to head downstairs. I was met in the hall by L. It was 6 by this point, so I figured she could join us.
I began cleaning the kitchen with M in one arm. L cheerfully reported that she had poured the last bowl of cereal. I reached in the cabinet and produced a breakfast bar for M. She snatched it and was distracted enough so that I could put her on the floor. I made much more progress tidying the kitchen with 2 hands. I also induced L to cooperate with washing the table and clearing the dishwasher. We make quite a team sometimes.
Next the 3 of us read a Spanish kids book on the couch: No es mi gatito. M is great at picking out all of the textures in the book. Each page has a furry belly or a rough tongue. L is also starting to pick up some Spanish. Win win.
Friday mornings become stressful for me around 7. Friday is trash day and if I am not working on the trash by 7 then I will be late for work. Today I decided to put M in the Baby Bjorn and carry her while I pulled the trash up the hill. L even offered to help. And did she ever help. She pulled the biggest barrel of trash up the hill for me.
It was also recycle day, so this process took almost a half an hour. When we had moved our last barrel up the hill I saw my wife in the doorway.
Now, I am thinking that I will get a hero's welcome when I come in the door. The possibility of putting the kids in front of a video for some adult time is a valid scenario in my mind. Imagine my surprise when I am greeted with:
"We need to talk about the events of this morning." My wife exclaimed
Oh Sh*t, I think to myself. We need to talk are really serious words in this relationship. Adult time is definitely off the table.
My wife continues: "That was a really dangerous situation this morning..."
"I agree. It really was." I honestly still had slight stomach pains over it. That is brain damage or death if our youngest goes down those stairs.
"Now how am I supposed to go away this weekend when things like this are going on?"
This was the fourth or fifth time my wife has asked this question. The other times were semi-joking so I thought I could let them go. This one made me really angry. I spoke loudly and without thinking my response through.
"Honestly, I don't care whether you go away this weekend or not. If you do not trust my judgment or parenting abilities then stay home. Do whatever the hell you want to do."
I believe my parenting skills are on par with my wife's. I resent it when she questions my skills in this manner. She continued:
"I don't see why you could not just get out of bed with M for one morning? Would that have been too much to ask? Why do I have to get up and rescue her from falling down the stairs?"
"I get up slowly. It takes me a few minutes to wake up." I responded.
"M needs to take a nap." My wife stated.
"I will put her down." I replied.
I hugged M and sang to her for 5 minutes before putting her to bed. During this time I reflected on the argument with my wife. My expectation of a heroes welcome was a definite problem in that altercation. I felt entitled to a thank you, but when I did not get it I became defensive and angry.
When I emerged from the bedroom I apologized to my wife. She apologized back. It would take us each a few hours to cool off, but we were fine.

Have you ever let false expectations generate anger? When?

1 comment:

DaveFlynn said...

This blog entry really helped J and I work through this issue. Upon reading the blog, J explained her side of the story. She explained that M was at the top of the stairs ready to somersault down them when J reached the hallway.
That definitely helped me to empathize with her anger.
Also she told me that her anger towards me was also some misplaced anger towards L for lying about the gate.
I was glad that she read the entry and let me know more about her feelings. Win win.