The other morning, my husband woke me up at 5:32 because he was looking for the vacuum cleaner!
Of course, I had no idea where it was and truth be told, not even sure what it looks like, it’s been so long since I used it. But Buff wanted to clean out the dirt trap. At 5:32 in the morning. Yep, you read that right!
Now you know how hard it is to wake up anyway; try having to access the deepest recesses of your memory on a moment’s notice looking for a household appliance you haven’t seen in weeks. When I mumbled to him that I didn’t know where it was, he started stomping around the room, loudly opening and closing closets and sighing like someone with Black lung disease. “Buff, do you want me to get up and look for it?” I asked with as much exasperation as I could muster. “No, no, I’ll find it!” he said, continuing on with his mantrum.
About a week prior to the vacuum cleaner crisis, I got a call from my daughter, asking if I could pick her up from school. I had a ton of things on my plate, including a TV appearance so I had very limited time. When I got to the parking lot, Casey wasn’t there. I searched around, panic rising because I still had to get dressed and make-up on. Just as I was pulling out of the parking lot, I spotted her, across the street, casually eating a piece of pizza with a friend. “CASEY! Come on, I gotta go!” I yelled from behind the wheel. “Mom can you just pick me up in about 15 minutes?” she shouted from the comfort of her plastic chair.
Those are two examples from my life that make me want to resign as wife and mother.
Lest you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, this happens ALL THE TIME and I think I know why.
The fact is I’m too accessible and I have let it go on for far too long. See, years ago, when I was working that morning show gig, I was never around and, I’m embarrassed to admit, when I was, I was preoccupied, studying for segments, doing research or on the phone. So when I lost that job, the pendulum swung back in the other direction. “I’m going to cuddle these kids to sleep, I’m going to take them to and from school and I’m going to learn how to cook. Okay so two out of three isn’t bad!
But then something happened over the years. There was a line that got blurred and instead of being a mother, I became an extension of Casey and Cole, someone always at their beck and call.
With Buff, I think it’s a little different. He says he supports me in the only way he knows how but I don’t believe he thinks of what I’m doing as a “real job”, since I don’t go to a “real office” and there’s no “real paycheck” attached to this endeavor. Try as I might, explaining that I am building an empire one brick at a time, is lost on him.
I wish I had a dollar for every time Casey or Cole told me I could go back home and go to sleep after dropping them off at school. Or the times they called me from school because they forgot an assignment. Or drumsticks. Or a permission slip. In their minds I’m at home with not a single thing to do.
And though he’d never admit it, that’s what Buff was thinking too when he decided to wake me up at that ungodly hour. He knows I stay up until 12 or 1 in the morning writing. He thought I could get up, find the vacuum and then come back home (after dropping the kids off) and crawl back in the bed. He didn’t bother to think I have real deadlines and need real rest so I can be at my best, writing good stories, filming, taking meetings, making speeches – all the things I do to build the Good Enough Mother brand. Anyone who’s been in a similar position, building a brand or a business, probably knows how I feel. You have to have a lot of faith in what you’re doing – and sometimes that’s hard for the people around you.
So what’s the solution? Well, with the kids I’ve decided I need to make myself much less accessible. The day Casey pulled the pizza caper, I made her walk home; she needed to understand I had commitments too and that my time was as valuable as hers. It’s a bit of a tougher sell with Buff. I think, as a numbers guy, he has a hard time quantifying the value of what I do. I feel pressured by his unspoken concerns and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about chucking it all in every so often.
This is the part of the post that I usually wrap up with sage words of advice but instead, I’m going to ask you for help. What do you think I ought to do?
I know this is all going to pay off and one day we’ll be looking back and laughing from the lounge chairs on our private Caribbean island. But until then, how can I get Buff and the kids to value my contribution more? Any and all advice is welcome!