Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eliciting a Reaction, or, You can't always get what you want the nice way.

So I woke up this morning, as usual, and went through my routine. Changed Ender's diaper, fed the fish, started up a pot of coffee. Played with him, set him down for a nap and watched some indie cartoons, he woke up and I climbed the stairs to wake up Mike.

As Mike watched the boy and I made breakfast, Mike rubbed his face.

"I'm so tired." This of course, as the person who had been up three more hours than he, evoked my ire. "I wonder why I'm so tired?"

"Well you slept plenty."

"Maybe I'll take a nap."

"Maybe you're tired of being a dad." I snapped.

Oh my.

Why would I say such a thing?

I think we all have had experiences of saying nasty things we don't mean. This particular thing flew out of my mouth so quickly that I had no chance to backpedal. I continued to make my pumpernickel eggs with a hat on them in silence. And then we ate. Silently.

While we silently ate, cleared our dishes, and took showers, I had time to think about why I would say such a thing. A lot of the time, I am tired of being a mom. It's one of those things that because mommyhood is a constant flow, you repeatedly feel as though you need a break throughout the day and it makes you think, 'wow, if I wasn't a mom, I would just be sitting on my butt reading that book that is collecting dust on the dining room table.' This is a lie, of course. If I wasn't a mom, I'd be at work. Or school. Either way, that book would be collecting dust. As the verbose, emotionally attuned female I am, I feel the absence of Mike's rhetoric on the subject. Is he tired of being a dad? I believe so. If not, then he is a superhuman of emotional resilience.

I think I said something so nasty because I wanted him to say, 'yes, yes I am tired of being a dad. I'm not actually tired. I just need a break once in a while.' and then I would say, 'I'm tired too. This is hard, isn't it?' And then we would bask in the glow of mutual understanding. We would feel connected, based on the fact that this thing we're doing is really, really hard.

Admittedly, I approached it all wrong. I'm not sure why on earth I feel the need to say things to elicit reactions from otherwise placid, and well-adjusted people. Is it that I like to push their emotional buttons? Press them to their boundaries? Maybe it's that the world can seem so incredibly passion-less, my mind tumultous in comparison, and this is my levelling mechanism to pull them into my misery, my joys, my disappointments.

I can wax philosophical all I want, either way I feel guilty. After I apologized, and apologized again, and we discussed our boundaries and our exhaustion, and Ender grabbed at our faces as we hugged (my nose in his left hand, Mike's lip in his right) I knew that I couldn't promise it wouldn't happen again.

After all, I got what I wanted, didn't I? It's hard to avoid doing something negative when it achieves the hoped for results. Until I find a more constructive way to elicit emotion from the male gender (or hell, anyone for that matter) I will continue to fall back on old habits.

But I'm sorry. Being a tired mom is no excuse for being a bitch.

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