Life fluency FAIL

Crash and burn on the morning commute. Subway screwed up and going local the whole way. (For those of you not lucky enough to be exposed to the horrors of public transit, an "express" train skips stops so it covers more territory faster, while a "local" stops at every stop. The worst-case scenario for the carefully-timed express train commute is that the train "goes local" in the middle of the trip with no warning. Yeah.) Boy 1 late for school, which cascaded to Boy 2 being late for school, which cascaded to my arriving at work 7 minutes before a really important conference call I was leading.

Safety nets. I do not have one.

Who else out there is operating without a safety net? Is there anything to be done about this?

At work I can rely on co-workers to help pick up slack if I need it. I don't have this in any other area, unless I can pay someone to do it. I know I'm not alone. It feels like there should be some kind of way to make this easier on all of us. Ideas? I can't think of anything other than living in communes…

75 thoughts on “Life fluency FAIL”

  1. That totally bites the big one, Moxie. Small towns or communes sound better and better to me now that I have a child. I liked them in theory before. But now I know I’d like them even more in practice. They just make sense.In the meantime, maybe a favorite mantra could help
    It is what it is
    This too shall pass
    Fill in blankety blank here.
    I can say for sure, though, that I’m grateful every day for you and your blog and its awesome community. Maybe that’s a virtual safety net?! Didn’t help everyone get to work and school on time, but the love is out here!

  2. Family, I think, is the best safety net of all. The tough one for me, and I know many others, is that my husband is a college prof which means we have very, very little choice in where we live. Which, in turn, means we have one set of grandparents living in another country, and the other set a good 12 hours away. If there’s something we can plan for (I work for an org that produces some pretty significant special events, so the week leading up to one of these, for example), my mother loves to come up, she and my daughter happily worship in the Temple of Mutual Adoration, and my mom keeps things in good shape at home while I do what I have to at work. I realize I’m lucky to have her for those times.But unplanned stuff? There is no safety net, but fortunately my job is flexible enough that I’m usually OK. In the rare occasions it’s not, my husband has taken her with him to class.
    However, I’ve finally lived here long enough that I’ve developed a list of friends, neighbors and others I could call in the event of a bona fide emergency.
    I have no ideas on how to fix any of this, though 🙂

  3. Sucky. I like the sound of a commune. Sorry, I don’t have any advice. Only praise praise praise for single mothers & fathers! I don’t know how you do it. I’m going to stop complaining right this minute!

  4. I’m not sure there is any safety net for public transit problems really, mostly because you’re already in the middle of the ride so your options are just – not there.If I didn’t have to commute (sometimes on transit, sometimes by car) my daily stress levels would drop considerably.

  5. Can you really not negotiate something better with your ex to let you move out of the city? It just seems like living in the city is dragging you down. Even if you just moved to a suburb with more of a community and a slower pace, I woudl think it would change your outlook. He could still see the kids… I can’t believe he traps you there.

  6. Sometimes you don’t know you have a safety net until you really need one. When I had my appendix out, we discovered we had more than we thought we did. My husband went through my address book for ideas of friends to call and everyone pitched in. Some of them I would have been hesitant to call, but he didn’t know that and it turned out that it was for the best.

  7. Do you know any of your kids’ schoolmates and their parents well enough to discuss “safety net” approaches for getting your kids to school? Or can you find a closer school where your neighbors go that would allow that? (I realize switching schools would be drastic – just putting ideas out there.)I just started teaching at community college again after a several-year hiatus to have/raise my two girls. Our morning routine has gone from non-existent to rushing clothed and fed kids out the door at an insanely early hour. My safety net – other than my husband – is 2 friends that have kids that go to the same pre-school – they can easily (with some car-set juggling) pick up my kids and get them where they need to go in an emergency. But I know that fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants feeling and I detest it. Hang in there.
    I know I had a HUGE reluctance to asking for help – but I know my friends will be happy to do it. As I would for them. At these times you really do need other people – and I need to remind myself often that it is OK and NOT a sign of weakness! 🙂

  8. Commune sounds good – I haven’t been able to get everyone on one page about where it should be, tho. We might need branches north and south…. Lots of Aunties for your boys…!

  9. I have virtually no safety net. I’m a SAHM. All of my mom friends have jobs. Our families live across the country from us. If I am sick or just really need some sort of backup, the best we can do is use one of my husband’s sick days. Which brings me to having no financial safety net. We’re a mess and I don’t know what can be done about it.

  10. Crash and burn on the morning routine:This morning I lost it with the 2 year old when he did his usual tantrum over changing his diaper and getting dressed. Most days, I have patience and I can stay calm and weather the whole episode without losing my cool. Not this morning. I yelled and put his clothes on him for him, him crying and fighting me the whole time. I put him in his carseat crying. I think we were both in tears as I backed out of the driveway. About three blocks down the road I decided we just couldn’t start our day like that – knowing he was going to cry and fight me leaving him at daycare, too.
    I turned around and we went back home and looked at the Halloween decorations (yes, we put them out this weekend) and played and calmed down and things were so very much better the second time to school. He cried and fought me when I dropped him off but at least we had a pleasant time up to that point. All this to say I have the luxury to take an extra 30 minutes in the morning if I have to. What would I have done if I didn’t? One bad morning isn’t so much in the grand scheme but they add up and what if I just didn’t have the option of the do-over? Soon I’ll, if I’m lucky, have a real job where my employer will expect me to be on time, everyday no matter my life’s ups and downs.
    I don’t think I have a safety net, just job flexibility at the moment. No parents in the area, no siblings nearby.
    I’ve entertained thoughts of communal living lots since having a child. Do they come with air conditioning? 🙂

  11. Could the kids’ dad have helped at all? Which, as crappy as it is probably to call him and ask for help, they’re his to help take care of too. If you’re going to be in the same city as him so that he can be around, then it’d be nice if he’s going to be around for this craziness too.It takes a while to build yourself a community – through the school, through work, through the neighborhood, through extra-curriculars (scouts, soccer, the Y…), etc.
    All of those seemingly smallish intersections in eachothers’ lives eventually ends up turning into running into people you know at the grocery store.
    But, what options do you really have if the train your on converts from express to local all of a sudden? Do you switch at the next “express” stop available and try to get a true express train? Or would you have met up with someone at a certain spot and then do a divide and conquer with the kids (you take one to school, someone else takes one to school, and then you go to work)?

  12. We tried communal living, and it contributed to the break up of my relationship, so I’m pretty down on the idea at the moment. But many lessons learned … I would love to find a co-housing opportunity. More privacy than a commune, more community than a single family home. I am also considering changing jobs to give me more flexibility with my time. The new option would be much more financially risky, which scares me, but I think I want flexibility more.

  13. @Moxie – That sucks. I wish you could figure out how to live in a place that would be better for you and your kids. Or maybe it is a great place, but just a difficult morning.Along the lines of a safety net for other parents, I finally started up the DC Area Parents Email Group that I’d offered before. If anyone is in the area and interested, send me an email and I’ll put you on the list. We are just getting started and just starting to discuss upcoming plans we have to see if others want to go to. But I hope that we will start using it for needing help mentally and physically.
    My safety net is my family and my inlaws. They all really helped us last winter with my tough pregnancy and Seasonal Affective Disorder affecting everything. And again helped when the baby came.
    However, now I’m going to rant a little about how my main safety net is not catching me. Normally, I have wonderful things to say about my husband. He really is a great husband and father. But I’m kind of pissed off at him because I asked him for help and he basically made me feel bad for asking. He’s usually in charge of our 2.5 going to sleep (it can take over 2 hours some nights) and through the night (she is often up and comes to our bed and sleeps on him during the night). But lately the 3 month old has been waking up every. freaking. hour. I told hubby that I needed more help with the baby at night. I needed him to take the baby at the beginning of the night (like he did with our first) and soothe him another way so I can try to extend the feedings and get a chunk of sleep before I cosleep the rest of the night with him. He said that meant that he basically wouldn’t be getting any sleep since it’s so hard to put our 2.5 year old to bed and then he’d be taking the baby and then getting up at 5:30 for work. And yet, I’m getting woken up every. freaking. hour. for the baby and getting up at 6:30 for work, including getting the two kids ready in the mornings and the girl off to pre-school.
    So it seems like my safety net for rough nights with the kids has a hole in it. Any thoughts from you wise people?

  14. I don’t see why living in a commune is deemed so bad … or a man having more than one wife. Personally. I know with three kids, one (possibly two) with speech problems and a full time job I need a ‘wife’. Yes, I am the ‘wife’ … but I would love a live in nanny. which I can’t afford. So I would be willing to have my hubby marry another woman who stays at home, cooks, cleans and can keep up with the kiddos. Sigh. No, I can’t quit … I have the insurance and make more. My husband refuses to even think of staying at home. I do have a safety net … my mother in law who helps out every single day (she gets the kids from school and day care), she helps with errands and appts, etc, etc. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her!

  15. So much of it is timing — by the time your in the midst of your commute, there isn’t must you can do, at least until transporter technology picks up. I gotta say, I am mighty grateful for public transportation. It may have its off moment, but around DC, it is way more reliable than the roads.

  16. @caramama – hugs!!! you are in the trenches, hang in there. Maybe he could pick up some of the burden in the morning if he can’t give up anymore sleep? I feel for you both! I remember being up every hour with the baby and I’m dealing with a difficult to bed toddler and I honestly don’t know which is worse (okay, sleep deprivation is worse but having to lay down for hours next to a fidgety toddler is a form of torture, too). Someone here will have some good advice, I know but you have my sympathies. Sending thoughts of good (any) sleep to you and yours.

  17. Public transportation stuff is crappy … especially because as far as safety net goes, you’re effectively trapped in there and it doesn’t matter if you had 10 people you could call, you’re on the subway, what are you going to do?It does seem like you could get your ex more involved to help out or be on call when things get dire. You probably don’t love calling him for help but they are both of your kids and if neither of you has family nearby, that is who you have to help.

  18. @caramama – No way around but through. You’ll get there. I hope you get there before winter and before the sleep deprivation hits critical mass.May I suggest a sleepover with grandparents this weekend? Either the 2.5 year old goes there or one of them comes to you and gets up with both kids in the morning letting you and mrmama sleep in. My MIL does this for my SIL, and it sounds nice. My MIL never does it for us since we live in the same town and there’s no need for her to stay over for a weekend. But it sounds nice.

  19. I do think our neighborhood (mine and Moxie’s) is as close as you can get to a small town and still be in the city. It is possible to have a safety net and a great sense of community here, even without family nearby. But M, I think things are exceptionally hard for you right now, what with losing your beloved sitter, moving to a new neighborhood, starting a new job, having the new sitter flake out, and having a really RIDICULOUS journey to complete every morning.That said, I have lived here 8 years and have like-family friends in the neighborhood and a stay-at-home spouse and I STILL feel like I don’t have enough of a safety net. Still feel like we are scrambling every time we need someone to watch the kid on a weekday (or, hell, on a weekend night), still feel like I’m pulling the ship singlehanded with my teeth some days. I don’t have any answers. Commune sounds good to me.

  20. I think the cultural pressure we feel to be/do/have it all contributes to lacking a safety net. Everyone is running so very close to their absolute limit that there’s no room for snafus, flexibility or the unexpected.By the cultural pressure, I don’t mean just materialism, but also the expectation to have an independent home (rather than communal living), a successful & fulfilling partnership (rather than a merely satisfactory one or none at all) and a well-paying career (rather than a fulfilling one or none at all) etc. etc. There are similar expectations for our kids — social & academic success (rather than a friend or two and a C grade or two), extracurriculars (rather than sitting at home reading a book), worldliness (rather than just staying in) … it goes on and on. Pressure.
    Basically, what I’m saying is we live too close to the margin on just about every front. If we were able to choose simplicity in most areas rather than the complexity our culture says we need, then I think we wouldn’t feel so desperate all the time. I make a conscious effort to do this in my family — to keep our lives simple and small. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, not so much.

  21. Sorry Moxie, what a really unpleasant way to start the morning. On a day-to-day basis, we do OK. My job is 25 minutes away and a bit inflexible, but my husband has a two minute commute and works in a laid-back company. If he’s running a little late, it isn’t a big deal. So husband handles mornings and a screaming tantrum at the mention of shoes doesn’t derail everything for him.But, but, but, and this is starting to keep me up at night, I am pregnant with my second. I am terrified of not being able to find care for my son during labor and delivery. I will go into labor at 2 in the morning, my mother is flaky so she won’t answer her phone, and anyway she lives 1.5 hours away. My one real friend in the area has two kids of her own and a busy life. Two options. Take my son to the hospital with us (dear heavens what a mess). Or my husband will have to stay home with my son and I will have to drive myself to the hospital and give birth alone.
    So yeah, I feel the lack of a safety net right now.

  22. Can’t wait to read all the posts – but yes, we have no safety net, and I think I must be crazy but we are expecting Kid No. 3, on purpose; I’m 44, I have one w special needs, family is more than one time zone away, and despite 5 years of living there are just a few reliable folks to bail us out from time to time. I’m so eager for another baby but – finances? Help? Yikes.Now I’m going to read all the other posts for validation, to sympathize, and for ideas!!

  23. Ugh. What a stressful way to start the morning.We have no family here, but we work really, really hard at maintaining a network of friends and neighbours. I work part-time and so I have set up a series of regular playdates, and consciously pushed asking for help – and then reliably returning the favour.
    I was inspired by a neighbour needing to call me at 11:30pm to look after her kids while she took one to hospital. And it felt good to help her. I have 2 kids, but my husband was home, so I could pop over. It was so awesome to be asked, and it made me feel more secure and comfortable feeling that I could ask her in return.
    @ eep. I think that everybody has ‘busy lives of their own.’ But I think that, chances are, your friend would still love to help. If the situation were reversed, would you resent helping your friend out for the birth of her child? My friend asked me to be the ‘filler’ person between her call to the hospital and her mum arriving. I confirmed with her that it was possible that her 3-year would have to watch movies / eat cereal all day / might need to be bribed with a cookie if I had a work-call that I couldn’t cancel, but we would be honoured to play even a tiny role in a once in a life-time event! (In the end we didn’t need to as she had a scheduled C-section.)

  24. I’m right there with you, Moxie. I also have no safety net. Both of my parents are gone, my only sibling is a single guy, my MIL is a nutjob, etc. When I found out in the summer that one of my daycare providers had been ARRESTED(!), it took some time to put alternate arragements in place to cover until preschool started in September. My boss, who is a WOMAN (the caps are because she should be ashamed of herself), told me that it made HER uncomfortable that I do not have a plan B.I suggested that she trying living without a net & see how her comfort level feels. Or perhaps give me a raise so I can hire the fulltime care that would make HER feel better.
    My husband works for himself, so his time is much more flexible than mine. He deals with the morning meltdowns & many of the sick days. Not much of a net, but it’s something.
    Not sure how I’d feel about living on a commune, though…

  25. Safety nets for the unexpected?1. Coffee. A supply of small chocolate treats in your purse for the kids, as rewards/bribes for getting through it.
    2. Wait and have the tantrum after the kids have been dropped off.
    3. Working for a family business, or one where people value families, and realize that hey, sometimes, life happens. Sometimes planes/trains are late, sometimes cats escape as you’re going out to the car. And knowing that having you working with them and occasionally being late or having to rush off to take care of something is better than NOT having you work for them.
    4. For me, parenting a young child with a sick spouse, the safety net is reminding myself that what other people think of me and my choices is none of my damn business. 🙂

  26. We had the safety net conversation last night at 1am, after our first grader who woke up crying with a fever fell back to sleep and we had to figure out who would stay home from work today. I had commitments scheduled from 8-10, 11-1, 2-3:30, and 4-5, and mr. flea was supposed to be supervising students collecting samples in the field – only the second day, after a long rain delay, so they didn’t have everything worked out and couldn’t do it without him. I ended up going in to do the 8-10 (a class I couldn’t possibly get covered on that notice), did the 11-1 commitment from home, and canceled on people (still feeling sick about the 4-5 meeting, which was rescheduled 3 times already so everyone could attend – faculty!) mr. flea emailed his team to get started and do what they could and he’d be there by 11.Our families are 10 hours away at the minimum and have been since we’ve had kids. We have wonderful neighbors, who in a true emergency we wouldn’t hesitate to call on – but you can’t really ask the SAHM next door to watch your sick 6 year old at 7:30am when she has a 4 and a 1 year old, just because it’s a pisser to have to cancel stuff at work. No, there’s no ‘sick kid day care’ in our area – we’re too small to support that sort of thing.
    We’re only in September and I’ve had to take sick time for my daughter for three separate things – and we don’t keep her home for a little sniffle, just fevers and puke. I hate fall germs.
    I agree with what Mrs. Haley wrote about our culture of living on the margin. I was thinking at 1am about how our choice to buy this house (which is not ridiculous, just a little stretch) means I need to work to keep our finances in balance, but man would life be easier if our family had a third person who could do the domestic stuff. And, you know, working IS my safety net – my parents were divorced and my mother was put in a bad place financially because she’d been a SAHM. One big reason I keep my job is I feel like both I and we need that backup.

  27. @eep: I worried about the exact same thing when I was expecting my second. In fact, it was really my only concern around labour and delivery. It is a LONG story but in the end everything worked out and my mom was here with my eldest.But – can you look into getting a doula? There are ‘sibling doulas’ who would stay with your eldest or (if you and you husband were comfortable with this), a birth doula could be with you and your husband can stay with your eldest. Student doulas could do it for free or a minimal charge.
    Also agree that just about ANYONE would be HONOURED to help out with a day of babysitting because you were giving birth. The hard part is asking for the help.

  28. I just asked my facebook friends for advice on how to find a babysitter yesterday. I have no idea how to go about it and we need someone who can help in a pinch or for the occassion date. Who would have ever thought I would actually *want* to be closer to my family?!?

  29. we have no family in town, but a really good group of friends we consider family – who we’ve called on to watch kids when i went into labor, who we’ve called when my husband had to take me to the ER at 10 pm, etc etc. we also have our nanny, who lives 5 minutes away and has been with us for 5+ years that we can call on as well at the last moment.just last week our neighbors who HAVE family in town, had us watch their 3 and 1 year olds for two overnights b/c the wife was in the hospital with surgical complications. so its not everything to have family nearby, after all!
    @eep – i would ask your friend, without a doubt- im sure she’d be thrilled to help out. dont stress about it till she says no. but I also stressed between weeks 36 and 38 between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am of who we would call and wake up if i went into labor with my 3rd. my OB is awesome and scheduled me for 39 weeks and we were able to plan everything out perfectly though 🙂
    @moxie-public transportation fail is totally out of your hands, which just sucks.

  30. I second the wish that I had a wife at home to back me up. My in-laws are too busy/crazy to help, my only sister in the area is an hour away and has a very full life of her own. Friends all have their own stuff.I agree with Mrs. Haley, and would love love love to live in a planned community where the neighbors share duties, have communal meals, etc.
    @caramama…I’m right there with you. The 6-month-old is waking every hour, and the 3-1/2 y.o. wakes at least once a night. All of us ended up in our bed last night, with me pushed onto the edge, back aching as I nursed my DD. I cried, because I felt like I’m having such a hard time enjoying this right now, and I wish I could.

  31. Ah, yeah. I know who I’d call if I needed somebody to watch Mouse while we had to go to the emergency room or something (good neighbors who had kids at her preschool). I know who I’d call for a multi-week emergency (my mom’s retired and could fly down) – almost had to use that one when our interim nanny between daycare and preschool had a murder in her family and had to leave the state, with 2 weeks left on her engagement. In the end, we asked the preschool for help and they accepted Mouse 2 weeks early. Don’t know what I’d do for a major transit problem when already en route. And it’s not like it hasn’t happened. I’ve had to say to my boss (a 30ish single guy) “yes, I did leave 1/2 hour early but it got used up” – I don’t think he believed me.Depending on the call, the traffic and etc, I might see if I could get a cab, all the while worrying about the lack of booster seats in cabs, but that might or might not work depending on where. I also do have plan B and C transit routes planned out for our daily commutes, but SF is a lot smaller than NY so that may work better here. We also have neato smartphone apps that make it easier to monitor–so if the 33 is messed up, I can check when the next 37 is arriving at the potential transfer point and see if it would help me or not. But anyway it’s no guarantee. I really feel you on not having as much of a safety net as I’d like, but I also think that no matter how good a net you have, every now and then things will just go off the rails, and I wish our workplaces were more realistic about that. Sorry you had such a crappy morning!

  32. My safety nets are less-than-ideal parenting: more TV, fast food, a temporary relaxing of the rules. We don’t have family nearby, we have an insane schedule, and I’m battling depression. We have no financial safety net. So rather than lose it I once in awhile let things slide. That’s my version of a safety net! 🙂

  33. @MrsHaley, I have a giant crush on you right now.@eep– Beth wrote something very similar while I was posting but I will repeat it anyway–I was totally in your shoes this spring. It will be okay. But oy vey, don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital and labor by yourself! 1) ask your friend. Someone who I was so hesitant to ask offered and it was such a huge relief. She was happy to offer. Your friend might also know of care providers if she really can’t help out herself. 2) Look into doulas, either birth or postpartum. They may well be able to help you arrange for some care when you go into labor. They will also be hooked into the childbirth community and may think of other people or options you hadn’t thought of. That was my backup plan. (I was especially terrified because my first labor was REALLY fast. But actually I had a slow start, probably because I was more worked up about it, and so my in-laws made their 4-hour drive up here before it was hospital time.)

  34. @eep — I’m one of those very introverted people who has a hard time making close friends, but I do know that if any of the pregnant fellow moms I see at the playground asked if I could be their backup child care for childbirth, even if I didn’t really know them, I’d do it in a heartbeat, no questions asked. (Although I guess you’d have to know the other person enough to feel safe leaving your child with them.)

  35. Huh, I’ve had commutes like this and I drive. (Public transit in San Diego is hit or miss, and for us, it is a miss…) I also have an excellent safety net- Hubby who usually doesn’t have meetings and can be late, sister in town and willing to help out, friends who would help out…. None of it matters when you’re stuck in an hour’s worth of traffic because someone set fire to the bushes in the freeway median.I used to be a consultant, and my rule was always to be ready for the meeting the night before, even if I thought I’d have heaps of time in the morning. I also kept my work backup’s phone number programmed in my cell phone- this was the person I could call and she would call into the meeting and handle the mess if I couldn’t be there. (This system evolved because of cross-country travel and its unpredictability, but worked just as well for the daily commute.)
    Some days just suck. I hope yours gets better, Moxie!
    @caramama- I think SarcastiCarrie has a great idea. Can you call in reinforcements? That way you and Hubby can get a little more sleep so that you can sit down and discuss things and come up with a plan that sucks equally for both of you? It is hard to have that discussion and have it work out when you’re running on less than empty.
    I’ve noticed that my Hubby has very little memory of the early days (which we are, by the way, still waiting to start reliving…. this baby is in NO hurry to get out!) and I anticipate some “relearning curve” about how to make things work. I suspect I will be cranky about this. In fact, I have already been cranky with him about this.
    @eep- I think your friend would be happy to help out during labor as long as she has someone to back her up with her kids! I know that I would do it in an instant for any friend, no matter how busy I was with my own life. Somethings are just that important.
    I’ve heard good things about sibling doulas, too, if you can afford that route.
    @withheld for now- I think you are very wise. We’ve done similar things just to get through the pregnancy!

  36. @anon today- I gather that you are near a university. So are we (several, in fact). Some of my friends use university students for emergency day care and swear it is a lifesaver.

  37. @eep – Someone suggested I call the yoga studio that offers prenatal yoga classes to find a doula and it worked. Also found a doula-in-training who is thrilled to gain experience for free. There are people out there and with a little creative thinking, you will find them. And I agree with all the other mamas that say that as hard as it is to ask for help, it’s so easy to give it.@withheldfornow – This is why my son now knows the words to Wonder Pets. And we weren’t going to turn the tv on for him till he was three. He’s not three. Won’t be for a while. Oh well.
    @Cloud – Will you have your baby already? For some reason, I feel like I can’t go into labor until after you do. Like it’s the polite thing to do or something. So have that baby already! 🙂
    @Moxie and everyone else who commutes – the topics from the past week or so have made me feel very grateful at a time where I really needed to feel grateful. DH bikes to work most days and I work PT from home and while it sucks on some levels, I am really lucky not to have to commute or work somewhere that wouldn’t understand if I was late. And for this, I thank you all.

  38. I had an awesome plan on who would watch my child while I had my second. I was a scheduled c-section on a Monday, and we were all going to get up like a normal family and drop #1 off at day care like normal and then head to the hospital to have a baby. Dad was going to pick him up like normal and bring him to the hospital to meet his brother, etc.Well, at 6 am Sunday, the day before my scheduled c-section, I started hemorrhaging(with placenta previa). A call to the doctor, an emergency call to an unprepared MIL, and it all worked out OK. We would have brought him with us to the hospital, if we’d had to while we waited for someone to come get him. If labor is long enough, there is often enough time for that. We are literally 0.6 miles from the hospital, so I wasn’t too concerned (other than the fact that I was hemorrhaging and OMG).
    So, the best laid plans….if your first labor was really long and you have the ability to tell you’re in early real labor, you might have plenty of time to call someone who lives a little farther away. I wouldn’t make that my first-choice, but maybe it can be your first-choice with a back-up just in case plan.
    We just got out of two weeks of infant home from day care for chicken pox. I had already taken a lot of sick days, and I told my husband he needed to take some. I didn’t have any FMLA left because of my maternity leave, so I made him do it. And his boss didn’t want him to do it because of too much paperwork, so made him work from home while caring for an infant and it was really stressful for all of us, because I did end up taking 3 days off and hubby 7 and I wish there was sick child day care. None of the grandparents want to stay home with sick kids (and I guess I can’t blame them).

  39. Mrs Haley mentions the new standards for relationships. Why do they have to be so intensely fulfilling these days? Why do we think we can live like we’re falling in love for years at a time. Why aren’t “good” “loving” and “satisfactory” enough?This is a hot button issue for me these days. My husband of more than ten years (including three small children) is considering divorcing me because our relationship isn’t “flirty” any more.
    Seriously? I am lucky the children are breathing at the end of day. And through this I have to flirt? I don’t even know how to think about trying to meet this standard. It seems so crazy and immature to me. But I want my kids to have their dad.

  40. @CaraMama–with you 1000%. My wonderful DH took off 6 weeks when son 1 was born, planning to take the other 10 when I transitioned back to work (which didn’t happen, or I’m sure he would have).Less than two years later, son 2 came along and husband was back to work less than 36 hours later and never took off even back to back days. His job had shifted but not changed completely and I still haven’t figured out why he was so able to help with #1 and not #2. Hang in there.
    @eep: Hang in there. And figure it out. We had literal hour-by-hour backups because my in-laws were out of town (on a preplanned event) when my second son was due. Many of our sitters were teachers or students and when he went past his due date, they were heading back to school. But I echo those saying people are willing to do stuff for labor that are outside the norm. Growing up, my parents didn’t really love our neighbors (too “hippie” I think for them). But when baby 2 started coming in the middle of the night, my mom was *thrilled* to go stay with their little boy, get him up, and take him to day care while his sister was born.
    @anon: I’m with you. Flirting is not in the cards. Sending you virtual hugs and hoping your husband gets past whatever yearning for flirty he’s having, or that you find a way to tap back in to that part of you.
    Finally, as a SAHM, I am the safety net for about 12 families I know. Not one has used me once. I’m with Mrs. Haley–the need for community is great; the ability to create it is strangled. For my part, I have started to swallow my pride and accept help when/where offered. You can take my son home from preschool on the day I have to leave early to meet the school bus? Thanks. You can have my guy for a playdate while I go to the dentist? I’d love that. I have found this makes it easier for people to call me when they have a need. Baby steps to modeling community in a world that is not as conducive as it supposedly once was.

  41. Moxie, that feeling totally bites. I often feel like that but truly just need to ask for the help. So where there is no one to ask – ouch. I am sorry.@Jill – do you really think a father wanting to be in close proximity to his kids is “trapping” someone? What would you say if Moxie were the one who wanted to stay and the ex wanted to take the kids out of town?

  42. I just wanted to thank everyone for encouraging me to ask my friend for help. I know my post sounded kind of hyperventilated, like I was going into labor next week. In truth, I have months to go. I know my friend would be happy to help. I just hate the thought of calling at 3 am, even though I was her backup and would have happily gotten in my car at 3 am to pick up her oldest.I think there is sense of shame about needing to ask people for help. Some of it is about needing help. But I also think, I know it is true in my case, that I am ashamed of my lack of safety net. Maybe if I was a better person I would have loads of really close friends, like all those people on TV. In reality, I have only had a handful of really close relationships in my life. Perhaps I worry about what that says about me.
    That is a convoluted way of telling me that the world tells me I should have lots of fulfilling relationships with people I can call on day or night. I don’t, so I worry that means there is something wrong with me. And if I do call my friend in the middle of the night because I am in labor, she will know that I don’t have many friends.

  43. @eep – goodness, I would think that if someone called me to help with labor childcare, I’d be so concerned that I was doing all that I could to be the help they needed, I wouldn’t have time to wonder why they had called me in the first place, except that we had talked about it as a possibility and here it was.I have one very best friend. My partner has two best friends that have become my very good friends. Outside of these three people I have acquaintances that would find a call from me in the middle of the night quite odd – but as many have said they may be happy to help in an emergency.
    I don’t think you need to worry about what your one friend thinks about your overall friend count. 🙂

  44. Right now our safety nets are hit and miss. No grandparents in the city. And most friends with kids either have their hands full or live too far to be a last-minute stand in for annoying vs. emergency requirements.But, we have built a few nets and are trying to arrange some more. My mother routinely volunteers to come stay with us whenever we need help. She’s 2 hrs away and can’t be away from my Dad for too long, i.e. more than a week (due to his health issues). So, if I and DS are sick at the same time for more than a day or two, she usually comes to stay with us so I can rest and DS can have the attention he needs (while DH works).
    Our daycare has emergency names of people to call (BIL, friends) if DH or I don’t show up or can’t pick DS up.
    Luckily, I have a really understanding boss & work environment. As long as my work gets done & on time, my schedule can be flexible. I can work from home. I can go in late (which, ahem, I’m still doing since returning from mat leave), I can leave early. I seem to be much more focused & efficient since returning to work, so I think this helps in everyone remaining so understanding.
    We had a similarily annoying and frustrating situation last week. I was really busy at work. Daycare called as DS had a fever and wasn’t doing well. Picked him up at lunch to bring him home. But I had an important conference call. Thought I would do it at home. DS is napping. My work laptop is crashing. Which means I can’t get the call in info. Roundabout of calls with people at work to try and get it happening. Meanwhile, DS is up. DH is trying to calm him but DS is screaming for me. End up having to cancel conference call. Day is a total loss. Not enough nets to cover that one. Just chalked it up to a bad day. But I also usually don’t have a problem putting family first. Probably because my work is so understanding.
    New nets we’re trying to build are to get the 8 year old neighbour to walk our dog after school (so evening routine isn’t so stressed & dog isn’t antsy waiting to go out), as well as asking for help from our neighbours who are friendly and who we could swap babysitting with etc.
    The hardest part is the financial safety net. We have a very small one. And after DH’s last lay off, it’s pretty much gone. But I’m determined to build a 3 month salary safety net for the future. Our ultimate financial safety net is our parents. And that bugs me. They are generous and want to help. But they won’t be here forever. And I just feel that it’s our responsibility, especially to our son, to secure our future as much as we can.
    @caramama: so much empathy. when not enough sleep is happening around here, things get ugly. DH & I both lost it this weekend and I have to admit that just letting all the frustration out kind of smoothed things out. I second the suggestions to get reinforcements in. Every weekend if you can until sleeping gets better. The only other thing I can suggest is to try to make sleeping your priority as much as possible. Cancel as much stuff as you can just so you can get a few extra hours sleep. Is the baby in daycare? If so, I’d totally take a sick day or vacation day just to sleep uninterrupted. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m so exhausted I can barely stay awake, that’s as good as being sick. If not, can someone take care of the baby for at least 5 or 6 hours so you can have some uninterrupted sleep?

  45. So sorry to hear about your day, Moxie. I honestly cannot imagine the challenges you face as a single parent with two children.I have an amazing husband who shoulders MORE than his half of the work of our household(all grocery shopping, all cooking and cleanup, all child baths) yet my FT job requires about 60 hours a week from me and we STILL struggle financially due to my medical debt. We have no nearby family and with a babysitter costing $10/hr, we rarely go out. There is a small studio apartment (former servant quarters for our 1920 home) attached to our house and we’re thinking of renting it very cheap ($250 a month, all utilities – even cable and internet – included, plus use of our laundry room) in addition to 20 hours a month of child care. Maybe this could be a win-win for us and a student? A parenting coach we met with recently told my husband and I that anthropologically, child rearing works best when there are 4 adults for each child. Can you imagine how incredible that scenario would be? I don’t know how I’d do in a commune with privacy, noise, etc. but I would be willing to give it a try.

  46. You know, I think a lot of commenters are touching on something hugely important here — it’s SO HARD to ask for help, even for something like caring for an older child while giving birth! But so many of us have said something about how great it feels to be able to provide help sometimes. (A memorable time for me — being there for a friend who wound up hospitalized with PPD. I stayed with her at the hospital while her husband cared for the baby).May we all find ways to ask for help when we need it; may our requests be heard; may we all have eyes to see when someone else needs help, and offer; may we all have the opportunity to help others.

  47. @MrsHaley, you hit the nail on the head. That is how I feel all day every day. I’m at or beyond my capacity on every front: time, energy, money, emotional support. I’m always behind, always putting out fires, and things that should be lovely and wonderful, like my daughter’s birthday, are stressful and exasperating.And @Kats Eye, holy schmoly, FOUR adults per child??? I can’t even imagine. It sounds like heaven.
    I don’t exactly have NO safety net, I guess, but I don’t have much of one. A brother I could call in a life-and-death kind of emergency, if I could reach him. He’s extremely erratically available for more run-of-the-mill stuff, but in reality doesn’t really come through. And there are a lot of strings attached, emotionally if nothing else.
    A couple of my neighbors are great, and helpful, but like so many of the above, have jobs and kids and lives of their own, so in a kid-with-the-sniffles and I-have-to-work scenario, not really feasible. And we just moved here and I don’t have a comfortable friendship with anybody yet, so I feel isolated a lot.
    I think I’ve posted this here before, but I made a vow a couple of years ago to never refuse an offer of help. As a single mom, I just don’t have the luxury of refusing help. It’s been sad how infrequently I’ve had the chance to uphold that vow, but it’s not never, and I’m getting a little more graceful at it.
    The relentless everything’s-on-me merry go round is extremely wearing and I am really sad that I have so few options. My grandparents kept us at their house all the time, took us on vacations, day-trips, etc. I didn’t necessarily like it all the time, because they were stern and depression-era, but I value it now. I love my daughter with every ounce of my soul, but I could really use for someone to take her to the beach for a week or something.

  48. @Caramama: I’m not sure what your DD’s nap situation is like, but my DD was the exact same at night until we dropped her nap. She stopped napping the day my DS was born. She was 2y5m. Though it made the afternoon long for the first little while, she started going to bed like a dream. And this was the child that was a nightmare in the sleep department from the 4 month regression ONWARD. Just before her 3rd bday (it was in May), she started sleeping through the night. She does get up occasionally (maybe 1 or 2x a week), but my DH just has to turn her around and send her back to bed and it’s all good.My DS is 11 months and still sleeps like crap. It sucks, but since it’s the second time around, I’m already planning on night-weaning him earlier than I did with DS (I’m thinking around 14-15 months).
    I feel your pain in the way that only another mom with crappy sleepers feels your pain. I hope this crappy-ness changes for you soon!!

  49. @Anon with the husband who wants “flirty:” I hear you on feeling resentful because you’re giving 100% and yet he wants more. Yet as part of a couple who’s wondering where the chemistry and romance have gone since we had our child, I also perceive his comment as an inept way to express that he’s missing something that used to be there (I’m thinking flirty is shorthand for passion or connection or ?). And obviously it’s NOT your sole responsibility to create that energy. For me, after multiple conversations and reflection, I realized that part of having energy to connect in that way depends on having more sleep, and some down time, and some conversation together. And some verbal exchanges that are more humorous or adult than just coordinating logistics and parenting with my husband. (And we have been working through various resentments related to division of labor that becoming parents created.) I agree that one relationship can’t reach the stars on every dimension. But to yearn for some chemistry and sense of the “couple-ness” after years together doesn’t seem ridiculous either. (Mm, which is not to say that the threat of divorce is a productive way to inspire passion…) In our case, it has been one part of recreating our relationship with each other, now that we are parents. We haven’t figured it out yet, either, but being open to talking about it honestly, and realizing that we have a common goal but different perspectives on the ins & outs of it, has been interesting.

  50. (Apologies for the epic comment…apparently I had a lot to say.)Hey Moxie. It sounds like you’re being pretty hard on yourself. Like a previous commenter, I consider the fact that you made it 7 minutes before your call a win! But yes, your commute is epic, and it’s tough when there are kid dropoff deadlines daisy-chained together.
    I have done all kinds of commutes over the past 15 years of work. Public transit in a big city, long driving commute across a big city, etc. Through the pre-kid days, our priorities evolved about what made for a good work/life balance. And the number one thing that affects our quality of life is commute time. We determined that 30 mins or less each way for both of us was the threshold for maintaining sanity. So far, even with 2 kids we’ve been able to stick to it. It has required some sacrifice – lesser job/less opportunities/less money – and in my current situation a job that is teh suck. But it’s working.
    As far as safety nets go, ours has many holes. As part of the shorter commute philosophy & a layoff, we ended up moving to a new city for my new job. We have been here one year. And I think I can say we have 1 friend that we could call in an emergency. Other than that we can call MIL or my mom, but they are 1.5 hours away, and have various issues. Husband has much more flexibility with his hours – he is picking up the slack most of the time. We need more community connections. It’s hard to do for this introvert who plays an extrovert at work and is exhausted at the end of the day.
    In writing I just realized that my biggest safety net is that there are two adults in our house. I single parented for 2.5 months last summer (while starting a new job in a new town) and it was insane. Being responsible for both pickup and dropoff and dinner, dishes, prepping lunches, more work, etc. was relentless. So I bow to you because you deal with this daily. My mom was a single mom for most of my childhood and I can appreciate now how much she had to manage and why she was so unhappy much of the time.
    All I can say is this: you are doing a great job. You are making it work. And even on days when transit completely lets you down, you still made it.
    (Is it too annoying to say that a zen-like attitude helps when stuck in traffic? I had to get philisophical about delays during my commutes or else I was going to have a breakdown. Esp with the kids, I have to keep my cool – they feed off my energy.)

  51. just wanted to co-miserate on the whole lack-of-safety-net thing.we have been in the midst of this for years. it is taxing, stressful, draining, and doesn’t get easier as the years go by and the responsibilities increase. i wish i could say we have a better social network but we don’t.
    what we do have is an awesome babysitter (found on sittercity- i totally recommend for regular or irregular use) and occasional family to rely on. what we are in the midst of is locating 24/7 care for my uncle (quick downward spiral this past month- good times) which will add an obvious safety net for him.
    but for the shit like today when the pnut is home sick from school and i have no one to watch her so i can run into my office to do paperwork that was due yesterday and now we have to pay a fee on? no, no safety net.
    @mrshaley- right on, girl.

  52. I’m sorry you had to deal with such a crapcicle today. I hope things are much improved for you tomorrow, and please know you’re not alone.Can I vote that you write a post on creating your own safety net? because I am counting myself among the _I_have_none’s_. No family, no responsible friends, a husband whom (I’ve just come to discover) is an addict and completely unreliable.. and until such time as I’ve scraped myself off the bottom of someone’s shoe, and started over, boy would I like to create some safety nets of my very own and feel secure for the first time in a very long time.

  53. @Cloud, you were very polite in describing San Diego’s craptacular public transit “system”. The only thing that keeps me from losing my mind as a driver on the 15 is the sheer variety of hazards and causes of delays.But back to safety nets: We have no family in town – BUT – beautiful wonderful benefit of my husband’s company is “backup care”. Basically, if DD is healthy and we have no care for the day, we take her to the center. If she is sick and not fit to be around other kids, SOMEONE COMES TO OUR HOUSE. I am not kidding. This benefit can also be used for an adult that needs care. Now that I know about it, I can’t believe that every employer doesn’t have this.
    Other than that, my only safety net is building goodwill and lowering some of my expectations. I was always late for school as a kid, and I turned out fine…

  54. I rely on my in-laws and when they cannot step in for a minute I have zero baby-sitting/help me out fellow mom options. Which resulted in me taking both kids to the doctor yesterday while I had a blood draw (4 vials) two chest x-rays (kids screaming out in the hallway with the receptionist while x-ray tech did the pics) and an EKG. I think they have been traumatized forever.

  55. Don’t have time to read comments, but I think about living in a commune all the time. That must be a normal urge once you have children. The isolated way we live obviously isn’t optimal.

  56. A neighbor with whom we are friendly (but not super-close) recently had a babysitting failure and asked if we could be the emergency back-up adult supervision for her.Her 12-year old was going to be staying home alone with the 4-year for the first time ever (after a babysitting failure). She trusted her 12-year old enough to do this, but if there was a problem, they were going to be at a baseball game 45 minutes away. If there was any problem, the 12-year old was going to call his mom’s cell phone and then she was going to call us to handle it if she couldn’t handle it over the phone. Because we all know how hard it is to ask a stranger for help, we weren’t comfortable leaving it up to the 12-year old to call us (and to the 12-year old, we’re basically strangers).
    And my husband and I were so honored. So honored that she would call us and ask us to do this (even though it didn’t actually involve us doing anything, as it turns out). We were out and about and drove by the house a few times just to make sure it all looked under control, but other than that, nothing required. And now, I feel like if I had to take one of the kids to the ER, I could call and ask her to watch the other one until my MIL could get there or until we got home. It was so nice to know she thought of us that way, so we could feel the same about her.

  57. I didn’t read this yesterday b/c I was out dealing with a family emergency– my mother had an “ambien accident” and gave her self a black eye in the middle of the night and when she came to, I had to abandon work and get her to the ER to get her checked out since she was still vomiting and on blood thinners for her heart. I was able to leave her at the ER to pick up kids at daycare and deposit them with friends, since my husband was out of town, of course. Mom was essentially fine, and she was sent home for rest with some pain meds and an antinauseal. I got mom home, tucked her up in bed, cleaned up the vomit she’d left about the house (thank heavens on the tile!!!) with one of her friends there to keep her company. Then went home to relieve my friends and put my kids to bed AGAIN.But all the while I was thinking, my Nos. 1 & 2 personal backups are down– husband out of town and mom being the crisis. But Backup No. 3 was in great shape, and Nos. 4 & 5 offered to help when they heard about the situation, as did some people at work. And that’s when I realized I really do have a decent safety net for emergencies in this town.
    But Moxie, your situation yesterday morning sounds more like one where no safety net could help– the same as if I ran into a unexpected traffic jam. For such situations, I’ve become very skilled at making sure that I do not treat it as a crisis– that goes a long way towards people (i.e. my boss) not getting put out.

  58. @Mrs. Haley – Amen, sister! That is some print-out worthy, spot-on, cultural zeitgeist stuff you said there (9/29 @ 2:25pm).@Cloud & @Nej – Hope the “waiting for baby” game is not too painful/annoying for you. I’m 40+ weeks right now, and am having a very crappy time dealing with my “busy” 23-mos. old monkey/DS’s shenanigans which have most recently involved throwing glass bottles of soy sauce, a dozen raw eggs, and a jar of marinara sauce onto the living room carpet. Fortunately, we are all stocked up on some reliable (but probably toxic) carpet stain remover (Spot Shot). And maybe he’ll be a chef someday? Yum. I’m hungry.

  59. @nej- from your keyboard to the labor gods, OK? I can’t believe I’m still pregnant- especially since I’ve been having contractions for two weeks now. Grrrrrr.@Caliboo- our public transit is remarkably bad, isn’t it? It works great for getting people downtown (I always use it for jury duty), but most people don’t work downtown anymore. I couldn’t face a commute on the 15. I had to do it for about 3 months once, after a company merger, and I just about went insane. And I was going against the worst of the traffic!
    @eep- your follow up post is really insightful. I agree with mom2boys, though- I would be so focused on the practical if a friend called for help that I wouldn’t think about anything else. If I did think about it, I would think that there is a difference between a close friend you’d go out with and a close friend you’d trust your child with, and be honored that I fell in the latter category.
    To the anon whose husband wants flirty- yeah, I’d be pretty annoyed with that comment, too. And really annoyed that it came with a threat of divorce. I think Elle might be on to something, though. It is really hard to keep the couple thing going through having kids, and I think we aren’t prepared for that by the messages our culture sends us. I suspect men are even less prepared for it than women. So maybe your husband has some unrealistic expectations, and it would help to sit down and try to talk through what is really bothering him and find realistic solutions. Hubby and I used to have Friday night beers after we got the baby to bed, and I was amazed at how well this did for keeping us feeling like the couple we used to be (we used to have Friday nights at a local pub). We weren’t able to start this until we were through the worst of the sleep deprivation, and its been put on hold for most of my pregnancy… but I anticipate reviving the idea in a few months.
    I read an article somewhere about how we approach marriage all wrong- we’re encouraged to pick our mates based on romance and flashy displays of affection. What we really should pick on is whether or not we’ll work well together, because running a household is a bit like running a small business. I have to say, my Hubby is not the most romantic (he has his moments, but he is an engineer….) but he is great at the teamwork thing. Sure, I’d like flowers now and then, but I’ll take a clean bathroom over flowers any day!

  60. Thanks for everyone’s comments, ideas and comisserations on my situation. I will definitely talk with hubby about calling in some relief for us over the weekend. I think maybe my inlaws are coming up either this weekend or next, and they are really great at providing us with all sorts of help.I had a thought about creating support networks. I have a friend who looked into mother’s groups when she moved into a new area. She found a good one with other SAHMs and meets with them regularly. She is now getting to know them well enough to start calling if she needs to and offering help where she can. I know it can be scary to put yourself out there like that, but it really can be a great thing.
    I have comments for lots of other people… in theory. I’m just too exhausted to be more coherent now. I hope what I wrote makes sense. 😉

  61. @Cloud, I think your comment about viewing a marriage as a small business is really insightful. I agree 100%. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies every moment, but what makes us great is that we are a team in every sense of the word. And we laugh a lot. Sexiness, flirtation, lust, even love sometimes, can come and go. But if that sense of being on the same page, running in the same direction isn’t there, I think that would be really difficult. I guess that is why my husband is always my first safety net.I, too, would be honored if just about anybody asked me to be their emergency back up.

  62. I guess this is my question- where did we come up with the idea that the couple relationship is more important than the family relationship. This seems to me to be a historical anomaly and frankly, selfish. I know I am in the minority on this and that many people achieve this to great couple and family satisfaction. I think this is wonderful. I am just not convinced that it is realistic to have this be the standard for everyone. And where not meeting this unrealistic standard results in divorce, children pay the price.

  63. On the side topic of picking a mate, I think I read the same article and it mentioned these litmus tests:would you want to run a small business with this person?
    would you want to have a child who looked and acted exactly like this person?
    I think there were a few others I can’t remember. Good stuff.

  64. Been thinking about this more (everbody else has probably moved on already) and realizing that safety net is part of the issue, but a big part of what’s going on here is feeling like there’s no margin for error on a daily basis.Having things set up, unavoidably, so that if one little thing (subway) goes wrong it all goes to sh*t for the day. Or if a kid takes too long to go to sleep, there’s a whole chain of dominoes involving undone laundry, late dinners, not enough sleep, late work, etc.
    The problems have similar effects on our ambient stress level, and possibly similar solutions (a backup is one kind of margin for error) but not entirely. And I don’t know the answer on margin for error, but it seems worth talking about.

  65. @Charisse, exactly, that’s my life in a nutshell. Dinner is a half hour late? So is bath, bed, then P is overtired, goes to sleep late, I don’t get bills paid (or whatever my job is that night), we sleep late in the morning, etc. etc. That is why I have become militant about bedtime and dinnertime, which is why I miss out on a lot of social stuff, community involvement, and mental health stuff. I simply can’t do anything after 6pm. It makes my life very narrow, and no room for anything but kid-related.

  66. @Charisse – So true. I get especially stressed out at the time leading up to dinner and bedtime if we are anywhere but home. Even at my parents, because 6:30 dinner time is flexible for them. I’ve still got to get the Pumpkin fed, nurse the baby, get us back home and into the bedtime routine and to bed so I can still do dishes and whatever else so I don’t have to do them in the morning which will make us run late and then get to work late which means leaving work later than I want and on and on and on.No margin for error.
    It’s why we love weekends with little to nothing planned. We take it as easy as possible.

  67. @Caramama – I predict I’m going to be in your exact shoes in a few short weeks, and I think I’ll want someone to remind me that, like you, I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who is supportive, pulls his own weight 99.9% of the time, and is someone I still enjoy life with. Remember that you are in Survival Mode, just like anyone who has added a new child to their life is for about the first year. It’s a time when relationships are tested and we’re not our normal selves. I wonder if perhaps your DH doesn’t really want to change his nighttime routine with your daughter (it’s long but it works, he likes bonding with her that way, and/or he wants to keep things consistent for her)… or if perhaps he’s thinking it’s better for the overall health of your family right now if at least one parent and one child is getting some good sleep. That being said, I can see why you might be feeling very unsupported now, and how effed up you must feel when your sleep needs are taking a backseat. I really don’t have any concrete solution for you, other than to give your DH his much-earned benefit of the doubt and keep talking it out so as not to let the resentment build up.@Anon married to someone who wants more “flirty” from her – The good news is, you’re hearing this negative news now, and he came directly to you with it– instead of finding yourself in a scenario where you found out after the fact of infidelity or filing divorce papers. It’s natural to be afraid of this perceived “threat,” but try not to be. It is a really good thing that he told you what his need is – and that he actually knows what his need is in the first place – that’s a sign he is still committed to your relationship. I know you understand it, but are totally irritated by his request – and I totally get that – no one likes to feel like they are “parenting” their spouse plus 3 kids. But do not ignore his statement. Ask him for a list of 3 actionable things you could do to make him feel that you find him desirable, and choose one item from his list that you can commit to doing – don’t make fun of it; pick the most reasonable one and just do it. Then give him your list of 3 actionable things he could do to make you feel like your needs (I’m guessing the need for some “me” time? the need to feel like you are not responsible for the the feelings of the whole world?) are being met, and have him pick one that he can genuinely commit to doing. (I’ve used this in my own imperfect marriage & got the idea from the excellent book “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix.) Best wishes.
    On that note, Harville Hendrix’s theory of martial/partner selection is that we subconsciously choose mates who have the same negative and positive qualities of our parents. Then we subconsciously re-enact our unfinished business from childhood with them, sometimes unwittingly setting them up to fail.
    @anon (9/30 @ 1:01pm) – yes, the idea that the couple relationship is more important than the family relationship seems to be the dominant worldview right now. I think it’s an offshoot of the relatively recent historical phenomenon of middle class divorce (whereas divorce used to be the province of only the very rich). The divorce rates make people want to philosophize: why did that happen? Aha – they didn’t “put the marriage first.” I don’t know what I think is most important – I tend to think it’s all about balance. After having kids, let’s be real- it is unrealistic to think one can or should put the marriage “first” all of the time. But I think the concept makes at least some sense based on a lot of people’s lived experiences – kids who don’t get some emotional needs met in a conflict-filled environment, some of the reasons people cite for wanting to divorce “the love is gone,” “life’s too short to live without passion” etc. all suggest that a measure of harmony and respect between the parents has positive effects for the whole family. Which is why I never make the mistake of equate marriage with success or divorce with failure. Life is rarely that simple. I think people seriously underestimate how hard raising kids can be on even the healthiest relationships! 😉

  68. @hush- you totally win for crappy waiting for labor experience. I’m 40 weeks today. My parents are here now, helping keep the active 2.5 year old happy and everything running. I’m going to nominate my mother for some sort of award. She is very patient about playing in Pumpkin’s play house with her.I totally agree with Charisse and everyone else about having no margin for error most times. It is probably the hardest thing about our current life set up. We did discover, while on vacation, that Pumpkin is a little more flexible in meal times and bedtimes and even napping than we’d thought. This has given us some breathing room we previously hadn’t thought we had. So for some of you- maybe some extra space is coming soon!
    @anon- I can tell you that Hubby and I have our good and less good times as a couple (luckily, no really bad times yet), but generally manage to keep the family functioning well. And that seems to make us both happy. But I do try to carve out some couple space for us from time to time. We’re lucky to have good babysitting options for the occasional night out. And we are super lucky to have my parents, who will come over and give us a night away from time to time. This ROCKS and is my number one recommendation to anyone who can make it work. There is enough time to make both of us happy- sleep, conversation, sex, drinks, dumb TV…. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide who wants which things! Anyway, we always come back from one of those nights feeling so recharged, both individually and as a couple.
    However, there have definitely been long dry spells between date nights and nights away. During those times, we use date lunches (we both work in the same general area) and Friday night beers (or recently, beers for him, ice cream for me) to keep us connected.

  69. @hush – Very good points. Thanks for that. I realize that I keep thinking we should be out of “survival mode,” but we just aren’t yet. Yes, it’s gotten much easier than the first few weeks, but it still takes time to adjust everything and figure everything out–while it all keeps changing. As others have said, I just need to get through it. And after a decent night’s sleep (he sleep for 2 hours at a time for most of the night!), I am feeling better able to deal with everything.@anon – I really do think the couple relationship is a very important one to keep up with because it does influence the family relationship. I don’t think it is MORE important than the family relationship, but probably as important as each child/parent relationship. Let me try to explain what I’m thinking.
    When my 2.5 yo is acting up, often it is because she needs some one-on-one attention. If the baby is napping or my husband takes him, then I can sit down with my daughter and play with her or read to her or take her on a walk. Then, she feels fulfilled in that need she had. She goes back to playing with her toys or whatever and does not resent the baby/husband/whoever for taking up all my time and time away from her. Same for the baby, who even at 3 months has some obvious needs for one-on-one time, but in different ways than my daughter. Well, same is true for my husband, and me. In order to truly maintain our connection with each other, we need to ensure we have one-on-one time with each other (only with adult-type interaction from talking to being physical). More than just passing ships in the night calling out who went to bed when. When we don’t have this, we get more easily frustrated with each other (see my initial comment in this thread) and it affects the overall family dynamic.
    So maybe I think that each one-on-one relationship is a very important relationship and requires upkeep and management as much as we can in order to keep the relationship healthy and strong. Each of the individual relationships affect the overall family relationship, and all of those relationships have interweaving dynamics with each other. But different relationships need to be prioritized at different times (for example, my daughter’s needs for one-on-one time often take priority over the babies since we don’t want her to resent the baby; but when the baby needs to be fed or has another pressing need that only I can do, that takes priority over her needs).
    Hope that makes sense. It’s something I’m working on, myself. Last night, hubby and I spent some time talking and watching tv and making out. AND I got decent sleep with the baby. So I’m in a really good mood today, and not just because of the sleep. 🙂

  70. Tomorrow is December already! Can you believe it? In Japanese, December is called “SHIWASU,” which means “monks running around.” This word aptly describes the busiest month of the year in Japan. Why is December so busy?

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