Friday, February 4, 2011

When Mama's Away

After I had D I was fortunate enough to be home with him for 11 weeks. My husband had to go back to work after 3. Prior to the baby, A had said he thought it would be very important for us to each have a night away every week (or a day) to go out and do stuff on our own or with friends. I thought this was a great idea, but also knew that I would not ever be the one to get out every single week.

During that first 11 weeks I came to learn a lot about D, mostly through trial and error. A wanted to figure things out on his own, so I tried my best to hold my tongue when he was around and let him work it out for himself. Sometimes this worked, sometimes not so much.

After about 6 weeks, I decided to take my first night out away from the baby for a couple of hours and bring a friend out for drinks on her birthday. I came home to find a screaming newborn, a stressed-out hubby, and chaos in general.

3 weeks later, I tried again. I went out for a couple of hours with old friends from high school. After the first hour I texted my husband to see how it was going. No answer. I tried again. No answer. At that point I could no longer focus on having fun and relaxing, I was too worried about what was going on at home. So I left and headed home. I walked in the door to a screaming infant, a stressed-out hubby, and chaos in general.

2 months later, I tried again. I went to a friend's house 5 mins away from where we lived at the time. I texted A to see how it was going. 20 mins later he said it was going okay. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed myself for a couple of hours. I came home to find a sleeping infant, a bitchy hubby, and an argument waiting to happen. "Right after I told you he was doing okay, he started screaming and didn't stop for like an hour and a half. I just got him down like 20 mins ago. Now I'm going to bed. Goodnight."


If I have gone out since then, I don't remember. Just this week I had to go out grocery shopping at night because of the impending ice storm the next day (when I had planned to go originally). I was gone for a little over an hour. When I came home, A informed me that D started freaking out right after I left and didn't stop until right before I came back.

Seriously, WTF.

Now, while I don't want to imply that my husband is doing something wrong, no one else seems to have this problem. My mom watches him and most of the time he's fine all day. My sister watches him and he's always fine unless it's nighttime and she needs to put him to bed without us. But for some reason, when it's A's turn to do single-parent-duty, D apparently loses his little GD mind as soon as I'm not there.

For the last 3 weeks, between work, the constant shoveling/snowblowing/roof snow removal, volleyball tournaments, etc., A has not really been around much and I have been doing single-parent-duty all day, every day, and most nights. This weekend is a drill weekend for him which translates to a 7-day work week. We have a military event to go to tomorrow night after he is released from drill, and then Sunday night is the Superbowl so the 3 of us will be going to a friend's house for the game.

I have an opportunity to go out tonight for a couple hours with a friend for some girl time. I can't decide if I want to or not. I know I need to get away from childcare duties for a little while, but the horrific guilt I feel when A has a hard time with him overshadows any fun I may have had. Not to mention the fact that I haven't seen A very much these past few weeks and won't see him alone at all this weekend.

But part of me is tired of only being able to leave the house when I am paying a babysitter. A gets mad at the slightest suggestion that he doesn't know what the kid wants, so I feel like saying "Then suck it up, buddy" when I go out and the kid is miserable.

But the other part of me is also guilty over thinking the kid is going to be miserable all night and if I was there he wouldn't be. I hate disrupting his routine. But the separation anxiety is going to kick in full-force pretty soon and then I will be screwed.

How about you guys? Did any of you deal with this in the past or are dealing with it now? What do you guys think?

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Comrade PhysioProf said...

Sometimes people plead or feign incompetence at a particular task in order to be absolved of having to perform that task.

JLK said...

Ah, yes. But if that is the case, how do I deal with it?

Micro Dr. O said...

While he could be feigning incompetence, it's more likely A hasn't had the concentrated time on his own needed to get used to D, and vice versa. He probably doesn't really know what to do, and maybe has a personality that gets frustrated pretty quickly?

Hubby stayed home with Monkey for 3 weeks after I went back to work and prior to him starting daycare. It took a few days for them to hit their stride, and I struggled knowing that they were having such a hard time together. But they did evenutually get there.

I wonder if there's any reason you NEED to be away for longer than a few hours in the evening, when D is probably most tired and likely to get fussy. A daytrip maybe? I know you feel guilty not being there when both of them seem miserable, but it's just going to take time for them to get used to each other. It really will be good for them both in the long run.

Alyssa said...

Do it! Go out and enjoy yourself!

A needs to figure out how to handle D on his own, even if it means him getting frustrated and having a horrible time. It's only fair that you get to get out once in a while!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Ah, yes. But if that is the case, how do I deal with it?

Make itte clear that the person is going to handle the task no matter what, and don't take over for them no matter how much they whine or fucke itte uppe.

DrugMonkey said...

What PP said. Just do it and stop feeling guilty. Both husband and baby will survive.

Kids are context-machines. Whenever dad is around, the vast majority of the time, screaming and fussing results in Mommy showing up, amirite? So why should the kid automatically realize you are for-realz not going to show up within the usual timescale?

You need more repetitions of solo-dad, not fewer.

Isis the Scientist said...

Do you nurse the baby right before you leave?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Let him scream and let dad learn to manage. When my Caleb was an infant I spent several nights a week with him while his momma was at school. As I didn't have boobs full of milk and he had absolutely no use whatever for a bottle, this meant that he was all about screaming. I had to sing to him, dance with him and walk with him the entire time momma was in class. Even after we met a neighbor who was breastfeeding and willing to help out about half way through class, he was still high strung until he could see momma.

We're both still alive and ironically, he has no use for his mother anymore - or at least not for the most part. While there was a lot of screaming at the time, it was also a chance to bond with him and I suspect was an important foundation for our current relationship (nine years later). He was a hardcore momma's boy, but was also enough of a papa's boy that when momma started losing it I was able to take up the slack in emotional support and when she more recently took off altogether, he felt safe and well supported by me.

I not only think you should not feel guilty about leaving him with A, you should realize that doing so is an important part of the development of their relationship and bonding process.

As an aside, my David - the demented three year old, actually had that reaction on occasion when he was left alone with momma. They too survived - though she eventually took off on them, so that may not be the best example.

Kendra said...

Go out. Have fun. FWIW, your kid might not *actually* be freaking out as much as A says. The exact same thing was happening to me when my baby was a few weeks old, but eventually I figured it out. Like, one evening when we were both home, the baby fussed for 10 minutes or so. Hubby then described it on the phone to his mom as "OH MY GOD WE *JUST* GOT HER TO SLEEP. SHE SCREAMED FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF."

So: go out. Have fun. Beware the exaggerating husband.

JLK said...

@ Everyone - I did go out for a few hours, hubby says D was great for the first half hour and then was "a nightmare" but he did manage to put him to bed for the night, so I rewarded A with an ice cream sundae I picked up on my way home. Here's to more nights like that!

@ Dr. Isis - Yeah, I always try to make nursing him the last thing I do before changing my clothes to head out and the first thing I do when I get back if he's awake.

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