Have you ever felt like you are parenting every member of your household - husband included? We have definitely had a couple of 'discussions' lately about the fact that I am getting extremely frustrated with the feeling that I have to take charge of everything in our house.
For example, I know when milk is running low in the fridge; I know how to separate colours; I know when the dishwasher has run out of salt and rinse aid; I know exactly when my daughter has to go to the toilet just by looking at her and I can smell a pooey nappy from about 500 yards.
However, I've started to become aware that although I may know a lot of these things instinctively simply by being a mum, I am not the only parent in the house. The problem is that sometimes I feel like I am the only parent in the house...
It all started one Saturday morning when I was upstairs enjoying some ‘me’ time. I had just finished blow-drying my hair which I had really taken my time doing (I normally whizz through it in less than ten minutes Monday to Friday). I had also been out for a run that morning so I was feeling really light and refreshed.
I finished up and skipped down the stairs to re-join my brood as it was almost lunchtime. As I was getting to the bottom of the stairs, I could hear the crying and whinging coming from the kitchen. I walked in to see Dee Dee wandering around holding a toy in her hand, clearly in bad form. I turned to my husband and asked: "What's wrong with her? Did something happen?". He just shrugged and said, "No, nothing happened, she has just been whinging a lot for the past twenty minutes".
I started running through the checklist in my head of what might be wrong with her. She could be thirsty, she might have a dirty nappy and it was one o'clock. I turned back to him and said, "You know it is lunchtime so she is probably hungry, have you given her anything to eat yet?" To which he replied: "Well no, I was waiting for you to come down first to see what I should give her".
I just stared at him for a few seconds as the tension started to build in my shoulders, and I could feel my lovely relaxed mood slipping away. I walked over to the kitchen counter and started to make sandwiches. I didn't speak (to be honest, I wasn't fit to yet), so I continued making lunch for everyone but he could see that I was annoyed. The funny thing is though he genuinely didn't have a clue why.
He started asking me what was wrong. And in cases like this I have learned that as frustrating as it might feel to have to explain everything all of the time - things that are glaringly obvious to you - it is much better to just go through it. So I turned to him and simply said: "You know you don't always have to check with me first. If you think that she is hungry you can go ahead and start feeding her. You know all of the things she likes so just give her something. You don't have to wait for me to give you the go ahead".
He stared back at me and, honestly, I could see written all over his confused face that he didn't mean to do anything wrong. He really thought it was better to wait for me first before feeding them.
But instead of that making me feel better, I just got more and more annoyed as I thought about how I take the lead with everything that goes on in our house. And maybe I don't want to take the lead all of the time. Maybe I get really fed up of it at times and would like it if he took charge every now and then. So I turned to him and tried to explain that I sometimes feel like I am the only parent in the house because I am the one making all of the decisions all of the time. And that sometimes I would like if he would take the lead. I finished by saying, "You're just going to have to use your initiative sometimes and make a decision by yourself. I'm fed up being the captain of this ship all of the time!"
Now in his defence he rightly pointed out to me that one Sunday morning recently I went out for an hour and left him to dress them. I had left their clothes laid out on our bed so he didn’t even have to pick them out by himself. Only when I came back I met him so we could go for a walk and I immediately spotted that Millie was wearing Dee Dee's aged 18 - 24 month dress (she is 4 by the way) and Dee was wearing Millie's aged 4-5 dress. I kid you not. Through my disbelief, and after I stopped roaring with laughter, my husband turned to me and said, "You see? This is what happens when you leave me to dress them on my own!"
Overall it turned out to be a good conversation because I got a lot of things off my chest (which apparently had been building up inside me for a long time) and ever since then my lovely husband has definitely been putting in more of an effort. That said, I'm not going to go away for the weekend anytime soon. As much as I dream about it in my head at times, every time I think about what I might be coming home to I am immediately put off the idea. For now anyway... maybe it will come with time.