Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cyclists

So I get this email last week:
From: TrophyHusband@midlifecrisis.com
Subject: racing sat and sunday combined race
Date: June 17, 2008 1:12:38 PM
To: DoctorMama@overextended.edu

There is a mid day fri short part (home in time to pick up HB no problem). Sat 9am start to 2 hour race (so leave here @ 7ish, then back by @ 1-2). Sunday early start and 1 hour race...home by 10am. Would figure out some reasonable time to catch up on sleep.
I was not too upset about this email, because I have been trying to have a Good Attitude. I have also been practicing saying No at work (which is pretty hard, as it turns out; one thing I had to say no to three times. Someone also went out early on maternity leave, and the system has been stressed yet more. But if I never waste ANY time—no blogging, no lunch break, no chitchat—I can make it happen).

No problem! I say. I have been trying to arrange a date night for some time, but I will simply work around these parameters. I find an early movie and line up the babysitter for Saturday night.

Friday night I confess I do occasionally glance resentfully at our new kitchen cupboards, which despite my discomfort that they even exist in all their bourgeois glory, are really cool. The resentment arises from the fact that I am not allowed to restock them because I developed a rotator cuff injury from emptying the old cupboards in record time at 10pm on a Sunday night after HB’s birthday party because TH forgot that the workers were coming the next day. TH has promised to restock them, but hasn’t found the time. Which is cool, I’m in shape, nothing wrong with my legs, I can run up and down the basement stairs: need salt …. down … up … need a spatula … down … up … need a measuring cup … down … up …. etc. No problem!

Anyway, Friday night cannot involve cupboard restocking, because before each and every bike race there are hours of arcane preparation involving not just a bewildering array of greasy bike parts but much consulting of the computer, rearranging of the car interior, phone calls, etc.

Saturday morning I have a really lovely time with HB. We eat breakfast on the patio, then I pay some bills while he plays relatively quietly and only shoots a plane at my head once, then we go downtown to put the change in the coin counter at the bank as per his request, then we wander around and have lunch. At noon my cell rings: it’s TH. Maybe home in 2 hours? As long as I get my run in and we get to our movie, I say.

HB and I head home. Phone rings at 2:00. TH: Maybe home in half an hour? Oh, and I forgot to mention, I invited Jack and his mother over for a playdate this afternoon. They’ll be there any minute.

Fine! No problem! As long as I get my run in and we get to the movie in time!

Jack and his mother arrive. I don’t know her, but she seems very nice. I neatly avoid having to say her name, since I can’t remember it, if I ever heard it at all. (I am THAT mother at daycare, the one who doesn’t know anyone’s name.) HB and Jack play in the wading pool. I find out that Jack is on “the Spectrum,” which is why he always has a tutor with him at daycare. I tell his mother that I just thought it was because he could already read so well that they gave him a reading tutor. I don’t think before I say this, and I hope afterward that it makes her feel good. I tell her that I worry about HB being a bully. She tells me that she gets daily reports on how Jack interacts with all the kids, and HB is NOT one of the bullies. This makes me feel good. Everything is good! No problem!

TH finally arrives at about 2:45, and I run upstairs to change into my running things, leaving the play date to him. I go for a glorious run. When I get home, the play date is still in full swing. I remind TH that we have to leave by 5:00, and our guests take their leave. I take a shower. I ask TH if he has fed the neighbor’s cat yet, which he volunteered to do over the weekend. He has not.

We make it to the movie in time! My dinner is a cheese stick and a beer, but that’s OK! As long as beer is involved, it counts as dinner to me. No problem!

I have chosen Iron Man, because it seems like a no-lose proposition. I am willing to watch Robert Downey Jr. do just about anything—he is, after all, on my List—and I figure TH will be happy with the gadgetry and the explosions. We haven’t been to a movie in a YEAR. We used to see a couple of movies a week.

I enjoy myself immensely. I could have done without RDJ’s overly precise facial hair, but compared to TH’s shaven legs (and the unavoidable resultant “hair shorts” effect), well …

As we exit the theater, I smile and point out a little girl who is yawning and stretching in her father’s arms. “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a kid who would sleep through a movie?” I say.

“It’s PG-13 FOR A REASON,” TH hisses. He then launches into a rant about how they should ban torture scenes in movies, and a laundry list of other complaints about the movie.

Now, we have a problem.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all week,” I say. “And you’re ruining it for me.” (I feel like such a trite asshole for even saying this. Then I feel mad that I’ve been turned into a trite asshole.)

He did apologize, and he didn’t go to the last part of the race on Sunday (though partly because it would mean waking up at 4 am and because he’d been “shelled” on the Saturday portion, I believe), and he did restock the cupboards.

But I’m still feeling bereft.

He used to make me laugh. He used to watch my back. He used to talk about subjects other than how to avoid razor burn behind his knees.

Do I have to change his nickname?


Sarah said...

Coming out of lurkdom because I sympathize. No advice here though. My hubs is a runner, and races almost every weekend. I love it, but I want to run too, and someone has to watch the three kids. Plus, I would LOVE a date night, but I think that is a dream.

I a THAT mom too at DC - I can't remember any names, and I am never sure which kid goes with which parent at PU / DO.

Monica said...

Oh, ouch. I have been a victim of the ruined date night before. And the rest of it? Just sucks.

Sarah said...

Would you have enjoyed yourself just as much if TH hadn't been there? If so, I would definitely worry.

Kristine said...

I am THAT mom at daycare too! I wonder if anyone knows anyone elses name there.

And I sympathise about the husband issue. I'm going through similar issues here. When did our life turn in to this?

Anonymous said...

I love your positive attitude. I've been trying to be more positive too, and it is hard, but totally worth it.

Sorry about the date night.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about date night - I think the last time hubby and I hit the theater was in April of 2005 . . . it was Jackass 2 and I was 3 weeks from my due date with Baby #1. At least you got a good run in - some days that is better than anything else.

I don't have any suggestions on a new nickname for TH, but am wondering if he would be willing to share his no razor burn tips?

Sheri said...

Oh, I can so relate to the hairless leg comment. Hubby is a triathlete and he gets his legs waxed. I HATE the regrowth and the femme look of a hairless male leg. There, I said it.

Thank you for posting again. We missed you. (hubby and I both read you).

Anonymous said...

I'm delurking not to say anything wise about TH and disappointment (although I've been there with my hubby), but just to say please post more. I love your blog.

Anonymous said...

well...that sucks. hmmm, how about cranky pants for a new nickname? or hairless wonder? or razor burn...yeah, RB....

E. said...

First of all, it sounds like you're being a champ of patience and understanding. Which is good, definitely. But maybe it's time for a sit-down and a needs assessment.

Then again, at least he's not sitting in front of the TV working on his beer gut. (Not that this scenario helps much. Hopefully the women of the DoctorMama community are all way too powerful and full of healthy self-regard to imagine such a scenario as coulda-been.)

I am totally that mom at O's preschool, since this year I haven't gotten to drop him off or pick him up except on my days off from school. I arrive with his baby sister on my hip on those rare days, and the other moms look at me like "Who is this woman mauling O's poor little sister and where's the cute dad?"

Erika said...

I don't know. My dh is similar, although our fights are usually about money (classic). Impossible to get him out of the house b/c he doesn't want to spend money. I suggest a bike ride--too hot, too many mosquitoes. Movie = too many people, too much sprawl.

Also, I needed to buy new running shoes b/c my shins and knees hurt in my 18-month-old Brooks (rubber doesn't age well! Go figure!), and he prints out the "Green Guide's" rant on shoes. (Labor practices, horrible materials used in their making, etc.)

I'll be *that* mom next year--DH is WOH, so he'll be in charge of walking to school and picking up, unless something changes...

Blue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue said...

i don't believe there is such thing as a long-term relationship that doesn't have cycles of up and down. the key to a great marriage that lasts (imo) is to not let the downs throw you...fix what can be fixed (i always believed that if you can talk about it, you can get through just about anything), and ride it out. nothing you mentioned strikes me as worth getting overwhelmed by. your nicknames (midlife crisis/overextended) speak volumes about the probable cause of the state of things. just hang in there and work together to reconnect as much as possible. you've still got a great trophy. a man who loves you and whom you have a shared history and child with. that's a rare and beautiful thing. talk to each other...it may take a while, but you can definitely reconnect with some tlc. good luck and have a happy week! ♥

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just temporarily one hopes, he could be the husband formerly known as TH.

Niki said...

Oh my, do I feel your pain. My DH is a biker also. From the pre-race prep to internet research to race day- I'm a bike widow, with 3 boys to wrangle!! My middle son once told me that I wasn't shaving my legs right because 'that wasn't how daddy does it'. Oh my!

Orange said...

Well, what are you getting to do for relaxation and fun? How many hours a week are you running or seeing your friends? How many hours a week is SCHMO (Self-Centered Hairless Man O'yours) out of the house for his biking or social outings? If there's a mismatch, you're well within your rights to negotiate a better balance.

I know a lot of people at Ben's school (since drop-off and pick-up are my job). There are all these children who greet me with "Hi, Ben's mom!" and I have no idea who they are, however. I didn't go on the field trips this year so I haven't met the kids, but apparently they have seen me with Ben enough to recognize me. But yeah, there are plenty of moms I'd recognize as so-and-so's mom (a la "Jack's mom") sans first name.

Ozma said...

I don't know what to say as I am the TH in this situation. Well, in a way.

I think you guys need to spend way more time together. If only you could take a vacation alone together. I know people talk about such things and I know they are impossible. But when you have a TH, they are usually still a TH if one has the time to search for the TH within. But who has the time?

This is a ridiculous suggestion. I can't believe I made it. You know why? I need to spend way more time with my TH.

Thinkingdoc said...

I so identify with everything in this post- from being "that mom" to having a sense of being letdown after trying hard to reclaim the loving feeling of time long gone by. Thanks for blogging.

CecilyK said...

Oh god, I feel you. Except with my hubby it's nothing about being fit--I wish! It's about TRAINS. And BOXERS FROM THE 30'S. And ANTIQUE CLOCKS AND RADIOS. And a whole litany of shit I don't care about. It's all he talks about. It's all he reads about on the internet--he'll spend HOURS on eBay looking at "clock porn."

You know who I married? A fucking POET. A funny, romantic, brilliant POET. He never writes anymore. He gave it up completely. He's suddenly turned into an old man and I do not have any idea what to do with him. It sucks ass.

Feel any better? LOL. I understand your frustration, but I'm a bit jealous that TH at least leaves the house. And has friends. My DH never leaves the house. Or have any friends of his own. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

Aw, damn. I'm sorry that things are less than hunky-dory down at the ol' Marital Ranch. And while listening to a divorced person expound on relationships might be like taking opthamalogic tips from Louis Braille, I do have two thoughts (for both DM and others in similar situations):

- Vis a vis a partner's "secondary" problems (as opposed to inherent ones, like an excessively-furry ass or a laugh like Sam Kinison choking on tapioca). These are generally a symptom rather than a problem. When people obsess, it's usually to fill needs, spackle gaps or soothe wounds... it's not REALLY about the instrument, the sport or the carbon-fiber toe clips. While hobbies are absolutely dandy, when they become ALL-ENCOMPASSING MISSIONS IN LIFE, the Obsessor in Question owes it to themself and their parter to try to figure out why they're so strongly fixated.

Locate and resolve your frustrations/resentments/problems in a shared, healthy way, TH! DO NOT BURY THEM UNDER A SLIMY MOUNTAIN OF CHAIN LUBRICANT!

- A weeklong experiment (because I am too lazy to complete a doctorate in experimental psychology... that, and too unethical)... Do It every day. EVERY. DAY. No matter how tired. No matter how much you despise your partner. Do It, my children! Do It in the laundry room in under five minutes, if need be (lord knows I do... um, Do)! Tuck a bottle of lube in your back pocket and DO IT (note: remove lube before, say, doing the Macarena at your cousin's wedding)!!!

Physical closeness is powerful enough to establish emotional closeness where none previously existed... it's why we warn our kids about slutting around (well, that and The AIDS). It's why babies thrive with lots of skin-to-skin contact. It's also strong enough to boost preexisting emotional closeness even if NO other effort is expended. It is the Hamburger Helper of relationship-nurturing... it's not fancy or elegant or a good long-term bet, but it's quick and easy and DAMN IT, it gets the job done. Yes, even if it's bad. The sex, that is. Hamburger Helper is ALWAYS bad, even when made with the full two tablespoons of margarine. Sex, on the other hand, stands a good chance of being good, and of making you laugh, and raising the pulse, and releasing juuuuuust enough lovey chemicals so you don't whap your partner across the face with a hand mixer.

Just some thoughts, to be taken with an entire shaker of salt (with attached margarita, ideally).

DrGeoff said...

Hi DoctorMama, your blog is a kick.
I'd like to feature you on Wellsphere - would you drop me an email?
Smiles, Geoff
Geoffrey W. Rutledge, MD, PhD

Anonymous said...

I identify. What happened to my husband that used to make me laugh? He's so busy providing for his family he doesn't see them much. Communication, communication, communication. I don't know what else to do, but like someone above said, there are up and down swings in every relationships, so we can hope that this is just the downswing that's gaining momentum to head back up.

Lisa said...

I can sympathize. I noticed one of the other comments was that the last movie she saw 'Jackass". The last one I saw was WITH Jackass....

Mignon said...

I've got a TH who obsesses about mountaineering and climbing. I'm always torn between pride and annoyance. Men are typically hard-wired to suck at multitasking, so give them something interesting and it becomes all-consuming. He was probably thinking about his race through the entire movie.

Despite Orange's excellent comment, I try not to 'keep score,' so to speak, because then I end up obsessing too, and that makes me feel small. I just make sure I have things to do for myself as well. Your running is good, it's just not enough time.

New moniker: TSH, trophy seeking husband.

Anonymous said...

have watched you from other side of the Atlantic....it was difficult to think about running at 24st 12 lbs !!! 20 months later it is easier to contemplate minus 11 stone ( need to say not done with surgery but with grit and determination ) so I find a great trainer get the kit and have got moving it may seem trivial to some but today I ran with my trainer for 20 minutes never has the London rain and pavements seemed so good I think I am now a maggot !!

Cheree said...

Off Topic:

Hey Dr. Mama –

I’m a recent maggot of yours and I’m begging for another maggot Q&A. Specifically – I’m having hip pain (just one side). Weird thing is though that it actually stops hurting while I’m running, but once I’ve lazed around for a bit after my run – that’s when it really starts hurting. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Maggot, check out Iliotibial Band Syndrome--see if it's you.