Marc and I very similiar in a LOT of really important ways. We have the same attitudes towards family, academic excellence, intellectual curiousity and we’re both really patient and tolerant. We’re both pretty social, like to have people over, have a lot of activities, like having a lot of children, etc. But on some levels, we couldn’t be more different.
Marc is much more organized than I am. Especially around the house – he does the meal planning, organizes our cabinets and tupperware supplies according to some principal that only he understands. I not only don’t understand it, I don’t care that much about it. I hate meal planning, am willing to cook whatever he has bought, but hate trying to figure out what to buy. As a rule, when Marc comes home at night, he spends about ten or fifteen minutes puttering around the house, gently reminding me to try to remember to put away the jelly, or make sure the top is on the peanut butter, or to make sure the bread has the little fastener for the bag. Things that just aren’t on my radar. On the flipside, he never vacuums, never touches laundry and wouldn’t dream of picking up a toy. Just wouldn’t occur to him to do it, not that he objects strongly to it, it just isn’t on his radar.
One thing that Marc is really crappy at is putting the kids to bed. He’s Fun Daddy – and the only way to transition out of that, for him, it seems, is to be Mean Daddy. I know that he could get the kids to bed – his preference would be to literally put them into bed and ignore them until they slept. I don’t do that – Jess is just now (at six and a half) at a point where she’ll go to bed and fall asleep on her own. I parent them to sleep – and combine sterness, kindness and an absolute conviction that they need to go to sleep, right now, and it works, no tears, no pain, and Jessie, at least, is usually asleep between eight and eight thirty.
I went out last night, to an Education Committee meeting that had been postponed. I missed the e-mail on that, and showed up anyway. And decided to not come home – after all, it was Daddy’s night with the kids and I figured the last thing they needed was more time with me. The kids needed this time with Marc, they had been looking forward to it, Marc was looking forward to it, and I just …. wandered. Hit the library, read in the car for a while, wandered around the grocery store by myself for a while… and came home around nine fifteen or so, to be met by a teary eyed six year old who was crying so hard I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I didn’t even bother to try and sort it out, just dropped the groceries on the table and took her to bed. She fell asleep pretty fast (it was nine thirty!!) and then came out to the living room, fuming, because Sam was still pumped up from playing with Daddy all night and nowhere near ready for bed. Marc went to bed almost immediately, and I sat up with Sam and chilled him out, nursed him a bit, and he dozed off easily enough.
I was thinking that probably each of us are firmly convinced that the other one just has no clue on how to do what the other one does, not only that, but we both are firmly convinced that it’s not worth trying to meet the other’s standards. I don’t care where the cereal goes in the cabinet, or if the tupperware all comes cascading out when I open the cabinet (I like the sense of adventure, honestly – I think it adds a little something to the day). And Marc doesn’t really care when the kids go to bed – they were having fun and everything was great. And it probably was – Jess would have been fine, I’m sure, if I hadn’t come home for another hour or so, she was just awake enough to know that I was home, and once she saw me, she started crying because she was so overtired. If she hadn’t seen me, she would have eventually fallen asleep. Sam was having a blast with Daddy, and if I hadn’t come home, Marc would have sat up with him and eventually, he’d have fallen asleep too.
Even though we’re so different in the way we handle these things, I think the fact that we still somehow manage to co-exist so happily and so easily is fabulous.
And on the upside, I bet the kids will go to bed super early tonight 🙂