A Perfect World

Today I cried.  For the first time since June, I sat down on my bed and cried huge racking sobs.

It was all so stupid.  A silly argument with the husband and I was frustrated and angry and it all came out in big fat droplets of salty tears.

Sometimes he is the most frustrating person ever.  My job is going from strength to strength, I’m project managing a huge change in the way our department runs and setting up a similar project in Northern Ireland, which means I’m working long hours, and I’m loving it.  I love the challenges and the responsibility and the trust people have in my ability to do this.  It’s ego boosting and my enthusiasm knows no bounds.  But then I come home from my 12 hour day to find the husband sat on the sofa, playing on his laptop, and his first words to me as I step through the door are “what’s for tea?”

When I was off work in April and May my OCD took over and our house was spotless.  I spent all day every day cleaning and scrubbing and polishing and bleaching.  I had nothing else to focus my mind on other than my own dark mood, so I focussed completely on being a housewife.  Now I am working full time and then some, I am still expected to cook and clean and do everything.  The husband does some things, don’t get me wrong – he does all the laundry (but leaves it till the weekend and then has to do it all in two days), and he puts out the bins every Wednesday.  But cleaning a three bedroom house, changing the bedding, checking there are fresh towels, cooking meals from scratch with fresh ingredients every night, these things need more time than I have to give them at the moment and it would be amazing and a relief to sometimes be told “it’s OK, I’ll do it” just for one or two of these chores.  The house is a total mess at the moment – desperately in need of a vacuum and if I’m totally honest a bit of a scrub.  Believe me, if I could afford a cleaner I would get one at the drop of a hat.

This morning’s row (rhymes with cow, mumof4) was over both of us having to work late this evening, and what was to happen to the boy as a result.  My Northern Ireland project is reaching fruition tomorrow – the big deadline when everything comes together.  The husband decided to do a major server upgrade at his office and scheduled it in for this evening.  When I reminded him of my own necessary overtime his attitude was that his job is more important than mine.  At this point the anger and the frustration bubbled up and overflowed.  I got it in check pretty quickly and perhaps even felt better for having reached that point and getting it out there, something I would never have been able to do a few months ago.

In the end I brought my work home with me.  Not an ideal scenario (mainly because I get paid overtime if I’m in the office and more money is never a bad thing) as I haven’t finished it yet, but on the other hand I got to spend some precious alone time with my boy and we watched a film and read a story together, something that I know I don’t do enough of.  I’m now thinking of making Thursday the one night each week where I absolutely promise to be home on time and to spend some quality time with M.

So perhaps this morning’s argument wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

In case you were wondering, the husband obviously heeded my rant this morning and did offer to cook dinner but then pleaded feebleness and the inability to follow the instructions on the back of an Old El Paso Enchilada Kit box, so I ended up doing it anyway!

So how do you create that perfect work/life balance?  Where on earth do you start?

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  1. Well, to be honest, lovely, he knows he can get round you and cos you don't make him do it but do it yourself, he knows to act feeble or unthinking. I would, if I were you, be as consistent with him as you probably are with your boy. Make him do it. Be clear with him what it is you expect of him. If necessary, sit him down and ask him to work out with you how best you are going to deal with the chores as a team. Tell him you expect him to do something if you ask him to do it. And do keep asking him. I know men can hide behind the "you're nagging me" line but keep on and keep on or you are letting him off the hook.

    He probably thinks he's going to get told off for doing it wrong but let him do it and perhaps give constructive feedback if it's not done to your standards eg "thanks so much for doing x, but when you do it, could you please remember to do y at the same time?"

    I know he should just "know" what to do, but obviously, you do need to tell him. It takes quite a bit of effort to embed new habits, and really that is all you are doing. Pretty much the same as parenting really, but who said that men ever grow up?

  2. Well I am not working…. but based on Kate’s take, with the kids, because you know I am oh successful there (and the Police never come to our house), they say it is about setting boundaries and also knowing when to say your piece and then walk away. Easier said than done. Totally easier.
    It sucks with the childcare arrangement and I would have walloped him for pulling the old ‘my job is more important than yours’ shit. But like you said, by looking at it constructively, you got to spend time with the boy and still achieve your work (albeit not with overtime).
    And plus, next time he is home earlier maybe finish work and go out with a mate so he gets the same quality kid time….
    And it is good to cry. We need it. Far healthier than keeping it in. (Says me who was balling (?sp) -rhymes with ‘mauling’ at 10am today)…

  3. Agree with most of the above except for generalising about us men. I work full time and do my bit too. It is possible for a balance to be found. I cook, clean, wash, wash up, medicate, do physiotherapy, bath and cuddle so that Gill can get out to her Mum’s or her mates or to do therapeutic shopping. We’re not perfect and forget things and let the other one do too much but we do look for balance. It can be done.
    Don’t allow this to happen. Take control. Have the conversation and, like any good meeting in the office, get commitments and monitor those commitments.
    Good luck.

  4. I will be encouraging here – it can be done! Handsome was brought up with a mother who did everything for him, so when we started out together he had some sadly mistaken views about how much work he should do around the house. But he has learned. It helped that we have always worked roughly the same hours in the same area and car-shared, so he knew I left the house with him and got back at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us is perfect (he won’t clean the shower and I will absolutely never ever deal with the compost bucket or anyone being sick), but we have a pretty good half and half system which works.

    You could try allocating things – if you know he hates cleaning, offer to do that whilst he cooks – or vice versa?

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