Today was a really big day for the husband at work. The Girl still has a cough, which she has passed to The Boy, who woke up to feed more then normal, so last night was a rough night's sleep all round. This morning the husband was stressed and we were all tired. He asked me more then once 'what's wrong' and didn't believe me when I said 'nothing'.
The truth of course is, there is something wrong. I'm tired, and while my job is different from his it is still stressful. I want to have a shower. I want The Girl to be better. I want my nipples to hurt less.
We only ever truly see things from our own perspective, so the husband is probably thinking that I have an easy day today, while he has a tough day ahead. The Girl is going to nursery so I only have The Boy to cope with, and he has a big important away-day thing to lead. From his perspective, as he reminds me I should try to get a nap today, it looks like I have a nice chilled day ahead. In many ways, I do. But probably not as easy as he thinks.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a man-bashing post. Or even a him-bashing post. The situation would be the same, no doubt, if he were a female or if our roles were reversed. I am not saying that he is a bad person or has done anything wrong, just that when we do what we do sapratly all day, it is hard to see the other's perspective.
For example, I don't doubt that he has difficult people to negotiate with, but I bet they don't refuse to eat breakfast, wail increasingly until you help them do so and then complain loudly when you do help (you're probably doing it wrong). I bet they don't object to 4 out of place rice-pops on the table and then, when you clean them with a j-cloth, insist you put all 4 back (in specific places) and clean them again with kitchen-roll. I bet they don't cry that they need a poo, refuse to do it on the potty, insist the nappy goes back on and then cry because there is suddenly poo in the nappy...
I will never understand what he does all day. Even when I do go back to work I do not work in his industry and I will never be able to understand how it is to do his job. Equally though, he will never understand what it is like to do what I do at home. Even when (if) I do leave him alone with the children, most things are done for him. All the bottles for the day are made or left, with detailed instructions ready to do. Clothes are laid out, nappies are left ready, dinners are done ready to heat, lunch made or made easy. Schedules are written out and nap times explained. Not because he can't do those things but because I like to be sure what they have eaten and when they have napped, (probably I am a bit of a control freak) and because I have spent two years (with The Girl) and 4 months (with The Boy) figuring these things out. He will never know what it is like to manage a 4-week-old and a 2-year-old, alone for extended periods of time. Not knowing when the infant will want to eat (all the time) and trying to encourage the toddler to potty-train (still not happening). I don't want to sound like I am dismissing what he does, but I think it is very difficult for him to understand what I do at home. It's not as easy as it looks. Just because I am sat on the sofa when he gets home dosen't mean it hasn't been a long day, filled with drama. It doesn't mean I have sat there all day. It dosen't mean I am not on my last nerve. It dosen't mean today hasn't been difficult.
Today, the chances are he will be late home. It sucks for him, because he misses seeing the children and it means he had a long day and a sucky commute, but it also means I had to manage the children on my own for longer, and do bed-time all by myself (we all know how that can go!) This equation equals negative experiences all round.
Not just for him.
Not just for me.
I cannot speak for all mothers at home with children, but in my experience, seeing the situation from the other person's perspective is difficult, and sometimes, in a partnership, we need to acknowledge that we can't always understand the other persons perspective even if we try. Sometimes maybe we should just offer the understanding that we don't understand. Maybe cut each other a little slack. If I seem like something is wrong, it might not be to do with you, like you, I might just be stealing myself for the day ahead.
Ask me again tonight, and I, in turn, will ask you. It's likely to be different by then.