It’s My TurnJanuary 25, 2011
Here’s another glimpse into how I “deal.” Well, for the most part I think I don’t but that’s for another debate.
I am by nature, and a little by circumstance, a person who needs extra sleep. I’ve had this explained to me that on any given moment I make more noradrenaline than the average person. I’m not quite in fight-or-flight all the time, but I am someone you want in an emergency because I function very well under stress. It’s the after part where I get to break down.
In fact, I need down time a great deal. It is part introvert and part the body is exhausted being “on”. If I have to do something unpleasant or stressful (like host a party or teach a class, not that those are necessarily unpleasant) I need to make sure I have time after to be by myself, rest and recover.
I am the sole caregiver for my children for 80 days at a time. I have to get up with them. I have to put them to bed. I have to meet their needs at all times. I also had a difficult time after T2 was born. There was one occasion where I was exhausted (if DH is driving I will fall asleep in the car no matter what). We had to stop at both his parents and at the grocery store. T2 needed a diaper change. At first I had DH agreeable to changing the diaper when we got to his parents. Then I mentioned that on our way home someone needed to run in and get a gallon of milk for T1. DH’s quick response was, “Then you change the diaper.”
I totally laid into him that his time to “Say No” was every day he was at sea. I was not being selfish by asking him–in fact, I only ask when I am completely spent. When he is at sea and T2 needs a diaper change and I just don’t want to do it, what do I say, “Sorry, hon, I don’t feel like it”? This discussion went all the way into the house with us. I said, “I’m sorry you’re tired too but I just don’t willy-nilly think my parenting is done just because you’re home.”
We had to learn a few things when I got better after T2. We had spent a whole year getting me better (and moving) that we didn’t focus on the fact we now had two children and their social lives were getting busier. I guess it would be kind of similar to suddenly adopting. I would meet DH at the door with the keys and say, “I have class at 10. T1 has dance at 11. Meet us for lunch at noon. Your parents want to have dinner tonight. Welcome home. See you later.” And out the door I’d go.
He started resenting such welcomes. And I don’t blame him. He was exhausted. He had just worked (at the time) 90 days straight. No weekends, no holidays; 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best advice we got was to look at both his resentment and mine. Both of us were exhausted; neither had a more valid excuse but we had the luxury that when he caught up and got rested he was more than willing to lend a hand. I just had to give him the time to do so. And I had to give him our calendars so he knew exactly how busy we were and where I could use the help.
But my body wants to shut down when he gets home. I want to crawl into bed and not wake up for a week. I had to learn to fight those urges for about 3 days. Then I could rest. It’s also hard to fight that urge when overseas germs attack my already exhausted body. Without fail I usually get some kind of sickness when he gets home.
I also had to fight the urge to sleep for a week. When the children were in preschool, DH would help and would get them out the door or preschool and I could sleep in. It becomes a hard habit to break when I am once again the sole caregiver. It bit me in the butt a couple of times. So now, do get up with them and keep the routine, going back to bed after they are out the door. Oh there are a few days when I roll over and say to DH, “Could you?” but it’s not such a bad habit.
Well, DH came home congested. He’s on the mend. I seem to have it now. T1 is a bit congested and ran a low-grade fever. I’m shivering as I type this and my back is killing me. I’m about to start my scout plans for DH to implement tonight because I’m not going anywhere.
So it’s my turn. My body is shutting down. I hope it is not the chest congestion from December that caused me to have a hard time breathing. We will see.