Sunday Morning Crashing Down

You guys, I AM SO GROUCHY!!

I’ve been planning to do a follow-up to my last post, specifically to talk about my relationship with Gil.  I had made that lovely resolution to kiss him for ten seconds everyday, and as I mentioned, I am failing miserably.  I really want to list all the fabulous things that he does (and he does), but I can’t exactly see them right now because when he and the kids and I are all home together like we have been this ENTIRE weekend, I become so irritated that all the positives feel invisible.

Please humor me for a paragraph or so while I vent.  I don’t know why it is that I feel like I can get ten times more done around here when it’s just the kids and me, and more peacefully at that.  One would think that adding an additional adult would make everything easier, but it’s the exact opposite.  We just seem to get in each other’s way, and very often we butt heads when it comes to parenting our children.

Scenario 1 

Piers took a nasty fall late yesterday on his bike and is still pretty banged up, so instead of loading everyone up and going to our “hippy, liberal church” this morning, as my mom refers to it, I went to the grocery store.  When I returned, Gil and the kids were parked on the couch watching The Lorax. 

Normally I’d let it go — whatever.  I try not to be a TV Nazi.  We limit them to thirty minutes a day during the week, but we often relax that on the weekends.  HOWEVER, this morning when Piers was begging to play the Wii, I said to him and Gil before I left, “I don’t care if you play the Wii, but let’s stick to your typical thirty minutes today.  Dad and I had some things we needed to get done yesterday so we let you play more than usual, but you need to do some other things today, plus it’s beautiful outside.”

EVERYONE AGREED.  Now, our rule is that each kid gets thirty minutes of Wii OR TV time a day during the week.  Gil knows this.  Piers knows this.  I realize I said “Wii” but I meant that I was instilling the normal rule — one or the other, and he chose to play the Wii.  My understanding was that once his time was up, NO MORE TV today.  Like I said, we usually are more relaxed on the weekends, but they watched a movie Friday night while Gil and I had our own Valentine’s dinner AND then another movie last night while Piers had ice on his face.  No big deal, but really, it’s finally sunny outside and there was no reason for them to stay parked in front of another movie this morning.  Plus, before I left for the store I even said to Gil — please make sure you keep an eye on the time and make him turn it off after he’s played his thirty minutes.

“OKAY, Viv.  I heard you the first time.  God.  Chill out.”

So what do I walk in to?  Gil and the kids lounging in front of The Lorax at 10am.  Really?!  In the big scheme of things, I realize this is not a big deal.  My kids are not couch potatoes and they are active and healthy, but Piers gets cranky and wild when he watches too much TV, and for what it’s worth, so does Gil.

But more than anything, I’m frustrated that we agreed and he completely went against what I said right there in front of Piers.  It just pisses me off.  Sometimes he has this attitude of “Mom’s out of the house — the guys can play.”  When the truth is — I am NOT rigid and hardly run what many would consider a tight ship.

Gil agreed to enforce the thirty-minute rule, and in typical Gil fashion, he forgot.  I didn’t blow up like I wanted to in front of the kids, but according to Gil I had “an annoyed look” on my face while I was putting the groceries away.  He walked into the kitchen and asked why I was mad and I said, “Because I specifically asked you to turn off the TV after he played the Wii for his thirty minutes, and I walk in to them watching another movie.  I just feel like you don’t back me up on stuff and then I look like the bad guy for limiting them on something we BOTH agreed on. You and I came up with that rule together and then we agreed that we were sticking to that today –THIS morning.  That irritates me.”

He was mad, but rather than say, “I made a mistake.  I forgot and Mom reminded me.  Turn the TV off.”  He just rolled his eyes at me, pointed the remote at the television and the screen went blank without any explanation.  Naturally Piers and Wallace went nuts, “Hey!! Why are you turning that off?!  We were watching that!.”

“Sorry Guys, Mom doesn’t want you watching TV.”  And then he stormed out of the house leaving me with protesting children.

I was livid.  Then I had to remind them that we had said thirty minutes, and for good reason, they were annoyed.  I also got “you’re a mean mom” slung in my direction.  Which, really, I don’t care.  I’m not mean, but I do follow through with what I say I’m going to do.  I think it’s important to be consistent and that’s what I strive for.

Maybe I was being rigid.  Maybe I should have just let it go.  Maybe I shouldn’t have made a rule if I wasn’t going to be there to enforce it.  I guess this is where the root of my frustration lies.  Gil is gone most of the week – what I say goes and the kids are used to me, so they rarely complain.  We’ve been sticking to thirty minutes since school started and it has never been a problem.  I set a timer and when it beeps, they turn off the TV — no yelling and screaming.

I don’t know.  I just feel like everything is harder when he’s home when it comes to the kids.

Scenario 2

He took them on a bike ride this afternoon.  Here’s how it went:

Gil:  “Hey Guys, get your clothes on so we can go ride at the trail.”

Then Gil leaves to put on his workout clothes and shoes, goes into the kitchen and starts goofing around on his phone.  Piers goes into the playroom and Wallace starts building with Lego in the dining room.  I walk in and see them not getting ready and as a matter of habit start verbally reminding them of the things they need to do.

Me:  “Wallace, you can’t wear your snow boots.  You need to put your sneakers on.  You’ll probably be more comfortable if you wear something other than jeans.  Here, I’ll help you find some better pants.

Gil never looks up from his phone and pretends he can’t hear any of this — who knows, maybe he can’t.

Piers walks in wearing his best khaki pants.  Jesus, it’s not like we’ve never been on a bike ride before.  We do this regularly.

Me:  “Piers, you can not wear those pants to ride your bike.  Here (I grab some workout pants from the clean laundry pile on our couch that Gil EFFIN’ threw there earlier today), wear these.”

Fifteen minutes later, Wallace is finally dressed but Piers can’t find his shoes.

Me:  “Piers, this is why I like for you to put your shoes on the shoe shelf by the door when you take them off.  Try to think back to the last time you wore them.”

MOTHER OF GOD…..Gil has not moved.  I’m starting to lose my patience and am apparently getting louder as Piers is getting more frustrated looking for his damn sneakers.  Gil looks up from his phone — I kid you not it’s been at least twenty minutes since we started this process.

Gil:  “Viv, what are you yelling about.  This is supposed to be fun.”

Me:  “And it will be as soon as YOU walk out the door!!!!!!  Do you know where their helmets are?”

Gil:  “Geez, I’ll find them.  Chill out.”

He begins moving      S……L…..O……W…..L…….Y.

Piers and I finally locate his shoes, and I walk the kids out to the car.  Let’s see.  Gil’s bike is on the bike rack but the other two are still in the garage.  I get the boys buckled into their boosters.  Gil is still inside.

Me:  “Honey, I put their helmets in the back.  Please make sure that Piers’ stays forward on his head.  It may need adjusting.”

He rolls his eyes and acts like I’m an obsessive nim-wit. Hello, the kid took a nasty tumble yesterday and has road rash to show for it.  Make sure his damn helmet is adjusted properly!!!

Gil (finally makes it to the garage):  “Geez, I thought I put their bikes on the rack last night.”

While he is loading the kids’ bikes I fill up the water bottles and take them out.

Me: “Here, I got these ready for you.”

Gil: “It’s not like we’re biking across Georgia.  This is why it takes us three days to get anywhere.  You think we can’t leave the house without a bunch of crap.”

I resist the urge to smack him over the head with one of the bottles and walk inside and slam the door.

Needless to say, kissing him passionately is the LAST thing I want to do right now.

For those of you who are parents, do you have these battles with your partners?  Do you have any solutions?  Does it get easier as the kids get more self-reliant?  I really don’t want to be chronically annoyed with Gil until the kids leave home.  Please, I’m begging!

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12 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Crashing Down

  1. YES YES YES!!! I feel like this same exact scenario plays out in my house 80 times per week… except that I do tend to be more rigid and my kids are couch potatoes because winter has eaten me alive and I’ve given up and turned on the tv indefinitely, but I digress. . . For us, I think it is really hard for us to make time to connect with one another as a couple, and then the little things start to build up and because we haven’t been communicating, things go awry. I know for me, I stop seeing him as a human that I love, and start seeing him as a human who was put on the planet solely to annoy me and that makes things harder too. I guess the answer would be to spend more couple time to work on the relationship so the stress doesn’t trickle down to the kids, etc., but finding a sitter, the spare cash, yadda yadda, sometimes it just isn’t a possibility. Anyway, I also wrote about you as my Saturday shout out today, so make sure you check it out! xox.

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    • First of all — thank you SO much! I love your blog and think you’re amazing and I do hope you’re on your way to feeling better. As for the TV — oh my gosh, I know. The weather has been wretched this winter which is probably why I was adamant last weekend that the kids get outside for fear that they might not get another opportunity since the weather has been so frigid and unpredictable. I feel like Gil and I are so worn out from parenting and work that there is no time for coupledom anymore, plus no spare cash for a sitter and all that….so we just do the best we can and hope that we don’t wake up ten years from now without an inking of who we’ve been living with. Sigh…..

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  2. I can’t help you. I would have spat the dummy in front of our boys. Then the boys would have asked, “Are you going to get a divorce like our friend’s parents did?” Then I would have felt bad. Then John would have felt bad. And we would both swear on our grandmothers’ graves that we would never lose our S#$T in front of the kids… until the next time. 🙂

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    • So true! I contained myself this time, but only because I feel so bad for all the gazillion times I’ve lost my S#&T in front of the kids. It’s nice to see that you and John have stayed together, and your kids seem normal and well-adjusted enough. I mean, who wants to live in a home where your parents are perfectly contained and composed at all times. That would be simply bland. 😉

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  3. A LOT of this rings very familiar to me. (The messing-with-the-phone thing….!!!!!)

    I don’t know if this’ll be of any use to you at all, but something I gradually fell into doing that’s actually helped quite a bit? I stopped expecting him to see on his own what needed to be done…and I just started delegating.

    For example, the getting-ready-for-biking thing you described? If that were me and my kids’ dad (which it EASILY could be), I would say to him: “Hey, I need you to do A, B, and C, if you would. I’m busy hunting for pants.” (or whatever). I basically take the lead (because I can’t help it) and I delegate him some stuff to do – and then I DON’T DO THOSE THINGS. They either get done BY HIM, or the event in question doesn’t happen.

    At this point the kids are pretty good at lighting a fire under him if he’s dawdling. And to his credit, he’s pretty good at following the tasks handed to him.

    Myself, I would personally HATE somebody managing me like that! I resisted doing it to him for a long time on that principle – but I found that it really does work better. He really doesn’t want to think about what he should be doing for the kids; he’d much rather play a game on his phone until asked to do something specific.

    I’m SO not like that…but it’s just the way he operates. (At least in regard to kid-related things.) Once I accepted that, these situations really, really smoothed out.

    As far as the t.v. thing (and incidentally, I don’t think I would have been even as calm about that as you were!): Putting aside the fact that it’s not right or fair to make you out to be the taskmaster, Gil is actually, in my opinion, creating a rather bad future problem for HIMSELF. He might want to consider that.

    It’s not perhaps SUCH a big deal to watch more television than rules allow…but that’s not the point. The point is that the parents agreed on the rules…and Dad clearly doesn’t respect the rules or thinks rules are pretty malleable things. If that’s the dynamic being established, what happens when the kids hit high school?? Your kids aren’t going to think you’re super-mean by expecting them to live to the rules; they might be annoyed in the moment (mine would be!), but ultimately they’re going to respect you. Gil’s undermining his own authority. That can’t do anybody any good.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m too dramatic about such things – but it seems kind of logical to me.

    Whoa…long comment (sorry about that!)

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s any easy answer for this sort of thing. I think we’re all just muddling through this kind of obnoxiousness. You’re certainly not alone!

    I wish you luck!!

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    • Thanks for the thoughtful reply. It’s so funny that you brought that up about delegating. Gil is the EXACT same way. He loves it when I give him specific things to do, whereas I’m like you — “I resisted doing that to him for a long time on that principle.” I, too, don’t want to be managed that way, but I guess it works for them, and I suppose that’s somewhat understandable since, in our case, I’ve always been the one packing the clothes and making sure the kids have on the appropriate attire (no snow boots for biking, coats when it’s cold, sunscreen, all that). The delegating definitely makes life easier when I remember to do it. I guess yesterday I was more annoyed that he made this huge proclamation, “We’re going biking!” and then props up against the kitchen counter (ON HIS PHONE!!!) waiting on whatever (in that case, ME!) to actually make it happen.

      I love reading about how you and your ex co-parent. I know it’s taken a while to make it work, but it’s commendable.

      I agree that we’re all just “muddling through this kind of obnoxiousness.”

      Thanks again!

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  4. Yep, been there. I agree with appletonavenue about the importance of the two of you being a team. My husband and I are VERY much like the two of you. It was wrong of him to make you the bad guy by turning off the TV so suddenly.

    In our case, I let a lot of this kind of thing go in the name of keeping the peace and maintaining marital harmony. We have always had very different ideas about parenting and still do (our 3 boys are 13, 15, and 16). It’s even more frustrating now that I am living in another city for 5 days a week. But also a relief that it’s HIS problem for the next 6 weeks : )

    So anyway, I let a lot go. I bite my tongue. And I try waiting until later when we are alone to address these issues when I am calmer and we are both in fairly good moods. Sometimes he’s receptive, sometimes it escalates into just a big an argument as if I had addressed it immediately. I don’t think there’s a perfect answer to this. If there is, I’d like to hear it too! As the kids get older, they will play the two of you off each other if you aren’t on the same page.

    Best of luck addressing this with Gil. You have my support.

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    • Thanks! I know what you mean about letting a lot go to keep the peace. More often for me, I let things go on the surface but I’ve found that I’m not REALLY letting go because I feel SO much resentment towards Gil. As much as I hate for us to discuss the situation only to have it escalate into a fight, I’ve found that that is a better alternative for us than to let my frustration simmer. We were able to talk about things last night and I feel better for now. It just seems that we have the same discussions over and over, which can be exasperating.

      Sounds like you being away is a good learning experience for all of your family. I can only imagine how tough it is, though, on many levels.

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  5. Oh boy. You have every reason to be upset with Gil. . This is an important issue in marriage. He is acting like one of the children, instead of one of the parents! My husband and I had similar talk. He complained about being the tough one, when he reacted so quickly, I wouldn’t even know the offense our son was being punished for. I’d open up a discussion and tell him you will stop enabling him to continue this way. You guys are a team, no one gets to escape. And it stays this way for 18 more years.

    In your case Gil is obviously happily oblivious to what’s going on and getting away with it. You are not being too strict, and have a right to let Gil know you need his help. You have rules and both of you should enforce them. I was really appalled to see Gil say, “Mom doesn’t want you watching TV” Making you the ‘mean’ one. Not good!

    Gil needs to understand the rules and why they are there. Children need our guidance, and believe me, the child feels loved, deeply loved, when he’s getting proper “restrictions” in his life.

    You and Gil need to have another talk about this. He needs to help more. He’s not a child, and should be responsible for the kids as well.

    I wish you much happiness.

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    • Thanks for your support. Gil has a hard time admitting when he’s wrong, which is no doubt why he stormed out like he did, though that kind of behavior makes me want to punch him. I think I’m getting better at holding off on a big fight BUT making sure I bring it up later, which is what I did after the kids went to bed. I almost fell off the couch because when I brought up why I was upset Gil actually said, “I’m sorry. I was out of line. I hadn’t had coffee when we first talked about sticking to the 30-minute rule and I just forgot, but I remembered as soon as I saw how mad you were and then I was upset with myself for forgetting.” UGH! I do feel better today, probably because he’s back at work. 🙂

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