Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The struggle within

Kate and I enjoy watching "Jon and Kate Plus 8." It's honestly the only show we watch together besides repeated and repeated and repeated viewings of "Little Einsteins."
The babies are cute, and we love teasing Kate for her anal ways (something I can relate to, although not to that degree), but we mostly like the show for the fights.
When Kate and Jon tear into each other, even just for brief moments, Kate and I look at each other and share a knowing smile.
We've been there.
The last couple nights we were there, too, as Kate fed a twin and I fed another, her upstairs in the dark, me downstairs in the dark, with only the laptop and the Kansas/Davidson postgame press conference on the NCAA's Web site to cut through the black.
Both of us fuming.
After almost 11 months of raising twins, the stress continues to chip away at what we've built for five years, the whole foundation that led us to having children in the first place.
This fight, as many do, started with resentment at someone's free time. My own. I went downstairs to the basement to play "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" for an hour and a half after the kids when to bed. I didn't want to play poker - Mondays typically suck for cash games - and I didn't want to watch a movie. I wanted to finish a mission or two, crash some fancy cars and mostly just kill some innocents. It had been a tough weekend.
Maybe I should have expected Kate would have to get up several times as a result. Maybe I'm a bad husband for wanting an hour and a half to myself. Maybe I'm selfish. Regardless, when I came back upstairs, Kate couldn't wait to lay into me.
We've had these fights since Jayden was born, and they're pretty much boiled down to two sentences.
"You're not doing enough."
"Yes I am."
Kate, however, had a point during Jayden's first year. She got up with him throughout the night. She bathed him most of the time and fed him most of the time too. I did a share of the work, but it probably wasn't my fair share.
The problem, of course, came with twins.
I could go on about getting up with Kate at least twice a night to feed for 11 months now, or the dozens of diapers I've changed or the sacrifices I've made, but really, this post isn't about me. It's about us.
Even so, last nght's fight was pretty simple.
"You're not doing enough."
"Yes I am."
And the problem this time is raising twins, plus the toddler, is so much work that you can't ever do enough to take the pressure off your spouse. On one hand, that will bring you closer together, in the same way that mountain climbing partners or war buddies make friends for life. But on another hand, it's easy to tear down what you've created if your'e not careful.
The reason is because that stress, eventually, has to come out, and it can either come out in small bits, during calm conversations that you don't have time for over dinners that you don't have time for, or it can explode in a violent, volcanic eruption.
Obviously small conversations are better. But there's the time thing. And the energy thing. And the patience thing. It's all in pretty short supply. By the time you put everyone to bed, all you want to go is either go to bed yourself (Kate) or burn off the tension over poker or video games (me).
We can work it out, as Stevie Wonder says, and we continue to work it out, but I think it will always be an issue. At least until the twins turn 16.
Then we're really screwed.
As much as I love the girls, I sometimes can't help but think it would have been better with just one. I can't help but think that, sometimes, we really didn't ask for this. We didn't take any kind of fertility drugs. This just happened. It was a 1/150 shot. Less than a one-outer's chance at hitting the felt.
And as lucky as we were to get two, man, do I feel unlucky at times.


mookie99 said...

My wife watches that show and I catch parts of it every now and then. That Kate is a cu..errr...a biatch!

She puts me on tilt and I have to quit watching. That poor guy.

BadBlood said...

All I can say Dan is that it gets better. Much better. It's no consolation now, these simple words.

When my kids were 4 and 2 and I was taking classes 2 nights a week and doing homework on weekends, I almost threw in the towel.

I considered faking my own death and moving to Buenos Aires. But I didn't. I didn't want to burn my car and leave only 1 tooth behind, that'd be suspicious.

Anyway, now the kids are 10 and 8 and I can't tell you much easier things are. Infinitely perhaps.

You're a runner. You're familiar with the long haul. This is just mile 1. The endorphins will kick in eventually.

lightning36 said...

Like badblood said, it gets much better. Having a special needs child has put enormous strain on my marriage. Some possible ways to make things a little better:
1) Make a date night every two weeks or so so that both of you can get away together and not have to deal with the kids.
2) Pick a night of the week when you take care of the kids stuff and your wife has a "night off" -- at least as much as possible, knowing that kids constantly want mommy for something...
The early years are tough and stressful. Hang in there, bro.

bayne_s said...

I come to your site today looking for your take on Roy Williams coaching against kansas in Final 4.

Where is it?

jjok said...

wife and you have gotten me watching that show now.....thanks.



lightning36 said...

Oh yeah -- I mentioned your post and my response to my wife. She said, "Remember when you told me that you would make dinner for a whole week so that I wouldn't have to bother with it? That was the greatest. And as I remember, you were 'compensated' quite well after I got time to relax..."

Laura said...

Gosh, I can so relate. Or, more appropriately, my husband can so relate! We were "blessed" with natural twins too. Twice! I promise you, though, it really is a blessing and it does get so, so much easier! Honest! In the meantime, what I think helps is getting those kids in a good night time routine and getting them to bed early. This allows my husband some much needed time to reconnect and drink wine and watch Family Guy and have sex and all of that stuff you never get to do when you've got children hanging off of you! Hey, somebody just pointed me to your blog and it's really entertaining. We're just down the road from you, too, in Denver. And hey, did you know Jon & Kate are speaking in Boulder in May?

Laura - Twinfinite Chaos