Friday night I was at a glorious dinner. I was with 5 women, all other moms who fill my heart with laughter, renewal and joy. I came so close to not going to that dinner, the very thought of getting my pregnant self ready for a nice dinner too overwhelming. After a little whining about not feeling well, with a promise to Ross that I'd be home early, I rallied and left. And two and a half perfect hours later, he was calling me. First, he gets concerned if my eyes are open after 9:30 pm and secondly, the one night in 3 years that I am out at 10 pm was falling on his poker night.
I answered the call and, while I said I'd be home in time for poker, alluded to how much fun I was having and would he consider skipping poker this week (he plays many friday nights after I go to bed.) I was trying not to let an edge creep into my voice. "Babe, it's really really nice to spend time with these ladies and I'd love not to rush home. Is there any way you can play another night?" He waited a second before calmly telling me that he was really looking forward to playing. "I haven't gotten to hang out with friends in awhile and was wanting some social time. You get to see these ladies a lot."
I took a few breaths and avoided the many words that wanted to come out of my mouth, many of them with 4 letters. That last sentence summed up a place where friction has wedged between us since we have become parents. It's the "you don't know what my day is like" discussion. No matter how many times (usually I) describe my day, or how many phone calls made during meltdowns so he can hear the madness, I still fear that he feels like my day is all lunch dates and shopping. In fairness, I envision his days as feeling fresh and showered every morning, feeling confident as he authoritatively manages a project and being respected for his expertise, all while checking gamecock stats online during breaks.
As he uttered that sentence, I breathed deeply, not wanting to start a discussion in public. I stayed miraculously calm as I reminded him that while I do see other moms frequentlly during the week, and while that is incredibly encouraging, that I could not remember one significant detail from anything they said. I reminded him that while I have lots of social interaction, it is interrupted every 2.1 seconds by hair pulling, snack stealing, diaper filling, nose wiping, booboo kissing, disaster avoiding intervention. I was having actual adult conversation, with no interruption, with a drink that looked like a real drink and without a diaper bag. It felt like fresh air.
Yes, he says, "I understand. I would really like to play tonight and would like some social time (turns out, corporate america isn't all about $200 dinners- despite the texts I get when he is traveling!). If you need to be a little late, I can make it work." I'll admit that I wanted him to tell me to stay out, order another fruity virgin drink and laugh until the sun comes up. But in a moment of pure grace, I was able to see that he was trying to meet me in the middle. I fully believed that I deserved to stay out all night and soak in all that adult-ness, but agreed to do what I could to get home on time.
On the ride home, we chatted briefly. I told him that I would have loved to have stayed but was okay coming home. (the checks were on their way. I left just a few minutes earlier than the other ladies.) I told him that while I didn't feel like he totally gets my day, I would concede that I don't get his days either. My precious husband said that, "no, we might not ever be able to understand each others' days but we can respect each other and our needs." I did not understand why he had this great need to play, to compete with other men (hello, read a book on men!) but I had to respect it.
I'm not gonna lie. I still feel like he totally should have conceded the night to his wife. I had make-up on for goodness sakes!! But as good as staying out that extra 20 minutes may have felt, it felt good to compromise, to acknowledge that he met me in the middle, and to have his needs met, just as mine had been a few hours earlier.
I feel like the angst ridden talks about whose job is harder may be on the decline. Because even if we swapped roles for a week, our experiences with each others' jobs would be different. (read: Mary Kate would nap for 4 hours a day and be a saintly little angel toddler all week.) Instead of trying to beat my oh so difficult experience over his head, I will begin putting that same energy into simply accepting that our days are different, that we will never fully understand each others' very different worlds. We can only respect the other persons' experience and trust each other when our need to renew arises.