Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Score Keeping


Today I want to talk to you about score keeping.  Maybe you are a new parent and know a little bit about this or maybe you have a perfect marriage and have no clue what it is, but let me fill you in.  In our house, score keeping is what we call arguing over who does more.  It's keeping a mental tally of who has spent more time in the middle of the night with the baby, who has changed more diapers, who has gotten up in the morning more, who has logged more nights alone with him, or who got less sleep and then using it against the other person.  It's a constant battle of who did what and who did more that no one can ever win.  I think it's pretty normal and I'm sure we're not the only ones that do this, but I'm sick of it.  So is my husband.  Yet we can't seem to make it stop.  

I'll be the first to admit that our marriage isn't perfect.  It's pretty damn great, but we definitely have our moments.  I love my husband with all my heart and soul, but he drives me absolutely fucking crazy sometimes.   And I know I drive him just as nuts (probably more so - he's way easier to deal with than I am).  I'm sure that's true for all new parents all parents all married people anyone that's ever been in a relationship in the history of the world.  And that's ok - it's bound to happen.  For the most part, we have a very strong marriage and wonderful relationship.  What helps a lot is that I think my husband and I have always felt like we were on equal footing in our relationship.  We have similar careers with similar paychecks, we both have our own group of friends, we each have hobbies that we enjoy, we both appreciate our free time and independence.  Having a baby changes all of that.  We are closer now than we've ever been, but becoming new parents is tough on a marriage.  Not only are we dealing with sleep deprivation, raging hormones and the stress of trying to raise a child not to grow up to be a serial killer, but we're struggling with our new identity as parents, role models, caretakers.  We're no longer Ryan and Sara, or even newlyweds.  We're Mac's parents.  It's an adjustment.  One that we'll probably struggle with for a while - and that's ok too.  I know we'll figure it out.  Eventually.

But in the meantime, we're playing a dangerous game of keeping score.  We both still work full-time.  We both still want to have a life outside of being parents.  We both still want to have some independence and ability to pursue our passions.  We both want to be individuals.  But having a baby is a team sport.  Our team has 2 captains that both want to run the team.  Maybe it's because we're both so competitive, or maybe because we're both struggling with our new identities, but whatever the reason, we keep having the same fight over and over.  We each want to one-up the other, have the upper hand, be the better parent.  So we use what we do for the baby against each other.  It's awful, but it happens.  Neither of us feel like what we're doing (whether it's long nights awake rocking the baby or changing diapers) is a punishment or anything.  If anything, it's pride - we both want to be the best parent we can and somehow we think that whoever got the least amount of sleep wins.  I don't know.  It doesn't make sense.

For me, becoming a parent has been the most amazing experience in the world.  It was something I had hoped an prayed for for years.  It's a dream come true.  I'm willing to sacrifice almost anything to be the best parent I can and spend as much time with our little guy as possible. That means that I spent less time with friends, reading, working out, pursuing hobbies and watching crappy TV shows so I can spend more quality time with the baby.  I go out less, I travel less, I do less.  And my husband has made a lot of the same sacrifices, but not to the extent I have.  And I'm fine with that.  I think it's good for him to still have a life outside of the baby.  But it's also hard not to feel some resentment along with that. I resent that he seems to be able to do it all while I can't seem to do anything but be a mom.

I know that it's important for me to have a life outside of my baby, but it feels so much harder for me.  Why is that?  Is it just mommy guilt?  I miss the baby so much while I'm at work all day, the last thing I want to do is miss hanging out with him in the evening or on a weekend.  I need him.  The more time I spend with Mac, the more time I want to spend with him.  He's growing up so fast, I feel like I can literally see him getting stronger and smarter and bigger by the minute.  I don't want to miss a second of it.  My husband doesn't either, but he's also much more excited for the baby to get older so they can do things together.  He wants a buddy; I want my baby.  Will the world end if I miss some evenings with him or have a weekend away now and then?  Absolutely not.  Will the baby love me any less?  No.  Will I be happier?  Maybe, I don't know.  Will I?  I do know that I'll miss him like crazy and probably beat myself up about not being there.  It's such a vicious circle. 

To his credit, my husband's managed to retain some aspects of his former life and keep some hobbies and interests.  He still hunts and fishes.  He still spends time with friends.  He still goes to dinners and concerts and events.  I don't.  Or at least I don't nearly as much.  It's not that I can't, it's that I choose not to.  My husband is more than willing to watch the baby while I go out to dinner or get a pedicure or anything, but I don't want to.  I want to be with my baby.  Therefore, I feel like I automatically "do more" with the baby for this reason alone.  So I win.  Right?  My score is higher!  I make more sacrifices.  I have less of a life.  I'm the winner, but I'm also the loser.  I feel like since I'm the mom, I should do more.  I should win.  That's my job.  Obviously my husband doesn't feel like I'm the winner or that I do all the work and make all the sacrifices or else we wouldn't still be having the same fight about who does more.  He feels like he's doing the brunt of the work and I feel like he's out of his freaking mind if he thinks that.  That's a major disconnect.  

We both make deliberate choices and yet I get angry with him for doing the things I wish I could do...but I don't want to do, even though I really do want to do and I can, but I don't.  What?  It's a no win situation for both of us.  And I constantly feel like an asshole for feeling like this.  Yet it's not something that I feel like I can fix by just going out more or "getting a life."  My choice is to spend time with the baby over everything else and I'm not apologetic for that.  I know it's crazy, but I want my husband to make the same choice all the time too.  I know that's not realistic or even good for us/him/baby.  We'd probably kill each other.  I guess maybe I'm just trying to restore that equilibrium that I felt like we used to have in our marriage to our parenting?  Or maybe I'm just a tired bitch that wants him to be as exhausted as I am.  You know, take one for the team.  Misery loves company.  (I'm not miserable.)

The funny thing is, I really do think we are a great parenting team.  We both contribute, we both make sacrifices, we both love that baby unconditionally.  In the end, he's the real winner that has two parents that would do anything in the world for him.  I couldn't have chosen a better teammate for this whole parenting experience.  I don't want parenting to turn into a competition.  I don't want to keep score anymore.  And I don't want to win.  But how do you get over this mindset?  How do you take down the scoreboard?  How do you get back to even?


Any other score keepers out there?  

34 comments:

  1. So true. We are the same way, but I guess I never took (or had time) to sit down and think about it - or write about it. I 100% agree with you - and trying to find that balance between "mom" time and time with baby (and hubby). I think this is what makes being a parent so hard - not the battle to displine or raise a child, but constantly struggling balancing household/family/friend/self time/time with your baby. Love the post. But I love the picture more. What a handsome little man!!!

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  2. Whew! I feel you on this one...Although my husband & I would both agree that I do about 3 times as much as he does around the house & with the baby, we still disagree on the free time part. Probably because I pretty much have NO free time left LOL, but I definitely spend what I do have with him and the baby while he spends most of his doing what he wants (hunting, fishing, TV, nothing...you know)! If you find the answer, please tell me what it is! :)

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  3. Oh yeah, total score keepers here. Not just when it comes to baby things, but also when it comes to household responsibilities too. Even harder when you're battling "traditional" mindsets in regards to roles. For example, even though my husband is home ALL THE TIME, I'm the woman, therefore it's my fault that the house isn't clean. (INFURIATING I tell you!) And when it comes to the baby, we definitely argue over who washed more bottles, who did more laundry, etc.

    And I totally get you on the wanting but not wanting to do more sans baby activities. This is why I like moms groups and playdates. Allows you to spend time with your baby, talking about your baby, while also socializing with other moms. I don't do this nearly enough, but the couple of times I have, it's been fun. So, playdate soon? :)

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  4. I feel like we keep score in our marriage too, and there aren't kids in the picture yet. It's human nature. But I totally see myself getting into your situation where you WANT to be with your kid, yet you feel resentment at the spouse because you chose to do that.

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  5. It must be a guy thing. This exact thing goes on for us. I get mad that he thinks that he can even ask to go camping or whatever. I think to myself, why would he choose to do that when he works away from the baby all day and only have weekends together. Why does he think he deserves/needs/wants time away from him. Sure, I want to go do a million things that I used to do, but I won't and don't because I really want to be with my baby and spend every moment I am home with him since I work all day. I truly think it is mom guilt. It must be. On saturdays my husband will just go and start working on a project in the basement... I would never do that, hellooo Max is playing in the family room, so why do you think it's cool to do something else? Sometimes I say I wish I was more like my husband and not care so much but then that's mean and he does care and does so much for us. It's tough man.

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  6. oh girl, I can totally relate. Even with my two days off each week, I have some serious mommy guilt on some nights when I leave her to go to Zumba, or out with a friend, or whatever. However, I also am in awe of the relationship that Nick has with Elyse & I truly believe it has something to do with the quality one on one time he has with her at least 1-2x per week.

    Watching the two of them together melts this momma's heart!

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  7. How VERY honest of you. I feel like we keep score on some things, and there aren't kids in the picture! :)

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  8. I think anyone would be lying if they say they never do this! I admit I do it the most in the morning when Estella gets up. If I feel like I've gotten up first the most, I will let her fuss till he gets up to change her even if it only gives me an extra 10 min of sleep... but it makes me feel like I've won:) Also guys never feel bad for doing what they want to do when they want to do it (like golfing that takes up a whole damn day) I on the other hand feel bad when I leave them to go run errands for a few hours, must just be a mama thing!!!

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  9. Oh my gosh, did you sneak into my house and document my relationship with my husband and child?!
    We (I) score keep. It's so hard not to! And, I feel I should be doing most (all) of the work when it comes to the little one, but I get so peeved when it's just me doing all the work. How does this make sense?!
    After 13 months I've finally started to set aside more ME time. Hardest thing I've ever done. I don't want to miss my little man, and I don't want him missing me. But, if I don't catch a breather every now and then I'm going to lose my mind.
    Hang in there!!

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  10. You two really are an amazing parenting team--I've seen you both in action. Mac is lucky as all get out!! Although, I do hope Ryan took the baby when you got home so you could get some sleep after our weekend of mayhem. Can you imagine Broadway Birthday Extravaganza this year? We'll have a whole year to catch up on Patti LuPone stalking! OMG! (I don't care that it's 7 months away, I'm still excited)

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  11. Yes. Yes. YES. And when you figure out how to make it stop...please share!!

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  12. I feel like I could have written this post! I always feel like I'm "winning" and make comments about how much I do way too often. We have babysitters (aka grandparents) at our disposal, but I feel bad leaving and when I'm gone all I can talk about is my son! I'd rather be home but when I'm spending yet another Saturday night in I wish I could let myself go out. I'm hoping this balances out as he gets older. Maybe I'll be able to take some "me" time and truly enjoy it!

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  13. yup our life is like this too. I stay at home with the kids and they're with me ALL THE TIME. SO many moms would kill to be in my shoes, sometimes I feel like some of my mom friends hate me or are jealous because they're stuck at work and I'm posting pix of me and my kids galavanting around town. But it's not all rainbows and unicorns coming out my ass, being with the kids 24/7 is HARD. Sometimes I just wanna poop alone. Sometimes I just wanna get away and do my own thing, and i hardly ever get the opportunity. But hubs does, so then I get resentful. But it's like you said also, he's a great dad, sometimes stays up all night with nick if he's sick. Does a lot of work around here and never hesitates to help out if I ask him to. So then i feel guilty for wanting to be away from the kids when others would love to be in my shoes. And then I feel guilty when I'm away. No not really cause usually I'm only away 2 hrs at the most, like at a moms night out or a lunch with friends or a pedi and shopping. So I think what you're going thru is normal :)

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  14. This is such a great, honest post. Kudos to you for opening your heart.

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  15. I am not even a mom, but this post really hit home and sounds like the exact situation that my husband and I will be in once we have children. I think that the most important thing is that you recognize what is happening and are aware of your feelings.

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  16. So honest and you so hit it right on the freaking head. We keep score too, but I don't think we've been able to figure out why. WHY? It's a disgusting habit isn't it? But I can't stop it. I think its a normal part of adjusting to being parents and I also think that the mom is pretty much always going to be doing more with the children whether its being physically there or just constantly thinking about them and their needs, etc.

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  17. Thank goodness we're not the only ones! This definitely happens in our house. I will get so frustrated/upset/annoyed when my husband wakes up in the morning and tells me that he's going for a run. Wait, what?? Bailey and I are playing, why do you want to leave us? Then in my head I tell myself that I'm going to take a whole day to myself. And then that day comes and I decide that I don't want to miss out on time with my family so I get myself back into the same situation.

    Ugh, I really need to get better about taking time for myself. I don't want to be bitter towards anyone because I didn't take time. We have grandparents, aunts, uncles all begging to babysit!

    That picture of Mac is absolutely adorable!

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  18. Right there with ya! I'm sick and tired of saying, "It's not a competition!!!" as we go back and forth and copare our score card. Glad to know we aren't the only ones struggling with this.

    I too struggle with free time - it's such a double edged sword. Hubs on the other hand, cant wait to go enjoy his free time :)

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  19. I literally woke up this morning thinking about this topic. Well, I woke up thinking about how to prevent this from happening in my marriage. We have a 6 week old baby and I go back to work next week. Obviously during maternity leave I feel like I've taken on more work around the house and have been the main one taking care of the baby. There have been two times in particular my husband has gone down to hang out with his cousin at their farm on a weekend night and I mentally asked myself why would he want to do that when he's been nat work all week, but I didn't say anything. I figured it makes up for the days I've been able to get out of the house for lunch or Target/TJMax runs. However, after a pretty sleepless night with the baby I woke up thinking how are we going to even the playing field when I start working? And should it be even? I work from home and my husband has an hour commute to work so technically I should take care of a little more around the house then he does, but how do I do that without keeping score? Your post made me realize even more that we need to sit down and talk about this beforehand. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Ah, score keeping is such a slippery slope, but I think we all do it! I know I find myself doing it a lot because I stay home with Jaqs, so OBVIOUSLY I do a lot more as far as care-taking goes. My husband's a coach which means lots of late nights, so I often am left alone with her from morning to bedtime which is what I wanted, but it's hard sometimes. I find myself having feelings of resentment because I "never" have a helping hand. What I fail to remember is the pressure my baby-daddy probably feels to provide financially and the pressure from ME when I text him things like "HURRY HOME BEFORE I DIE!" Okay, so I'm not that dramatic, but you get the idea. Thanks for your honesty & making us feel normal!

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  21. Oh my gosh, I always tell Chad to stop keeping score, but I secretly keep score in my head, too. I love when people write "honest" posts like this...it makes me feel more normal. ;)

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  22. Hi - I love your blog. It makes me want to start one. Anyway, just wanted to join with the others in saying you are not alone with the score keeping. My husband has been surprisingly awesome and helpful with the baby, but there are certain things he won't do unless he absolutely has to - poopy diapers, sucking snot, trimming fingernails. Plus, I seem to be the one to do all the behind the scenes stuff of laundry, preparing bottles, getting baby and his gear ready for the day. I don't mind doing these things, but I feel a strong need to get credit from my husband for doing so. In a lot of ways, I feel like my husband's life hasn't changed nearly as much as mine has. And I also feel frustrated because when my husband tries to help, I have to fight myself not to take over. I feel like I have a better sense of what the baby needs and anticipate when he is about to have a meltdown much better than my husband. Life is so much better with the addition of the baby, but it is also much more challenging. Sorry, I didn't mean to write a novel. But I love reading blogs that make me feel more normal.

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  23. I do this more than my husband does (or admits to). We both work full-time and I definitely do more around the house than he does. I finally one day calmly approached him and said that it really frustrates me when I have to ASK him to wash or make bottles for day care when he clearly sees they need to be done and he could just step up. Why is it my responsibility to ASK that he take care of them versus him just doing it. So we just decided for me to keep my sanity we just need to have distinct responsibilities and one of his is he's in charge of bottles. It's one less thing I need to worry about and it felt like a huge WIN for me to get that off my mental plate. I also told him he needs to cook dinner 2 nights a week. This way I'm not resentful at the end of the day that I'm stuck in the kitchen making dinner and missing time with my little girl since it's only a couple hours I get with her at the end of work days. This has also helped. I find that I worry or get frustrated about having to ask for what I want (shouldn't he just know by now?!?) but when I do finally ask for it and we have a calm discussion it usually works about better for both of us and the stress/frustration level in the house is quickly lowered. I think part of the score keeping issue is not asking for what we want so we keep score to make ourselves feel like we deserve what we want. Thanks for a great post!

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  24. We can definitely keep score, but I stay home and my husband works, so I think I am more guilty of the 'but I have been with them ALL day!' We have to take a moment and recognize all the hard work we each put into this family (then get a babysitter and hang out with each other). Wonderful, honest post!

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  25. Such a great post. I actually resented Ryan for going to work when I was on maternity leave. Not because I wanted to work, per se, but because he would come home at the end of the night and (1) Ethan would be SO excited to see him and (2) because Ryan would be so tired from working all day, that he would just want to zone out at the end of the day. And here I was, feeling like, Hey! I've been hanging out with you all day Baby, where's the love? And two, um...I've been with the baby all day...I need some zoning out time too! Now that we both work, we seem to be on more equal playing fields. I've heard of parents who switch off feeding each night...that could work. And Ryan takes Ethan to the nanny/grandma in the mornings and I pick him up, so that's good and equal. Ryan's pretty easy going too...and doesn't mind helping. I think I'm different from you in the fact that I enjoy having some alone time too. I hear all first-time parents struggle with the new identity of their lifestyle with baby. We certainly don't travel anymore and spend WAY more time together as a family on the weekends. It's all just an adjustment I guess. On the other hand, I totally get what you're saying about wanting your husband to WANT to spend all his extra time with baby too. And being a little resentful about the times he has his guy time. I would feel the same exact way. Whew..that was a novel of a comment!

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  26. Yes. Totally. I work part time but I feel like that almost messes with my head even more---because I NEED that alone time badly, but I have a hard time forcing myself to do it. All moms struggle with this, I think! And it's much more amplified with two children because holy hell, I REALLY need 'me time' more than ever but I REALLY hate to leave them. Ugh.

    You aren't alone!!

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  27. *raises hand* Guilty! Our little guy is almost 11 months and since I started staying home I find myself making mental "lists" all day. It took me (and is still taking me) and long time to adjust to the resentment (maybe not the right word?) of him being able to get out and do his normal day and activities while I "only" had the baby. It sounds so bad when I write it like that, like I don't absolutely love my new chapter in life; you do a much better job of putting this in words.
    All of this basically to say I agree, we are all guilty, and thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. Love your blog!

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  28. So thankful for your post and all the comments above to make me feel NORMAL! We (I) keep score and the mommy guilt kicks in full force if I decide I want to go to the gym, get a pedicure, etc. When/if you figure out a solution, please share!!!

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  29. You're awesome, You make Mom's feel not alone and I love your for that! This is so normal, and I think as time goes on it just gets better. I think I struggled with this more in the beginning than I do now but it still creeps up every once in awhile. What if you just told yourself that your going to get out like once a month on a Saturday just for you?! I think it helps, really! If you ever need to vent or complain, just email me(remember I have I baby that is a horrible sleeper too!! And sometimes you are just so tired you need to complain! I get it, for sure!)

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  30. Thanks for posting this. I totally do this and I think it drives my husband crazy. I'm trying to be better about it. Honestly he is amazing and really tries to keep things equal with baby duties and chores when possible. I have gotten better about taking me time. I kind of have to force myself sometimes because my time with dd just feels so precious, I don't want to waste it, but usually once I'm out of the house it does feel refreshing and I feel much less resentful of my husband when I get back. And that's important too, right? It's definitely a work in progress. I totally understand what you mean about wanting him to "want" to spend all his free time with Mac. I feel that way too.

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  31. Love this and as a first time mom I feel much the same way.

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  32. wow I feel like I could have written this post myself, so so true. all of it. score keeping is something that I am trying to work on.. it is def. a difficult thing to beat because it's so easy to sink into that pattern! Thank you so much for sharing, it's nice to know that I am not the only one!

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  33. Oh my. I have an almost 2 year old, and both my husband and I work full time. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I want to start working out again, but I don't want to lose the precious 90 minutes or so that I have with my son at home before he goes to bed at night. My husband has no problem planning 30 mile bike rides for after work. I could work out in the morning, but then I would feel guilty about leaving all of the morning responsibilities to my husband (and let's be honest I have not had a full nights sleep in over 2 years, so I routinely snooze through work out time). I keep score, and I hate it. I want to stop, but I have a feeling that until I can freely choose to do whatever I want, I will not be able to. So that means never because I have a child. :) I always pick my child- so does that make me a martyr?? I win! This post hit home.

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  34. First off I love this post. We are total score keepers too and we don't even have a baby yet. It started with house chores, then it became the dog so I know we will do it when it comes to the baby too. Our biggest issue is that we have very different careers- basically I have more "time" to house chores, grocery shopping, dog walking etc so these all end up falling on me and it's hard not to become resentful. It makes me super nervous for when the baby gets here- I know it will be hard not to keep score but I'm hoping that we will be able to come up with some sort of compromise but we'll see.

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