Helpful.

My husband likes to help, and he likes to solve problems. He also likes to read scintillating articles on the internet about Getting Things Done or Rick Santorum or How to Be More Prolific or Why Onions Make You Cry. Mostly, he likes to forward me articles he has read online that he thinks will somehow Change My Life. Or, at least, I imagine that’s why he forwards them to me; a not-so-subtle passive-aggressive nudge. You could get more done, you could be more prolific, you could never again cry while cutting an onion if you would ONLY read the articles I forward you…

I do read them, because I like to read and I like to get things done and I’m scared of Rick Santorum and I want to be more prolific and come ON, who wouldn’t want to know why onions make you tear up like yet another cloying episode of Grey’s Anatomy? So I read them. And some of them are quite useful, and some are less so, and some make me want to tear out my hair and ram it ever so gently down his stupid throat.

The most recent helpful article he sent me was this one: 500 Words Before 8am, It was a fine article with an interesting take on being prolific: that you (the “you” in question here being me, probably) should produce first, early in the day, before you begin to consume. In the case of the author, he makes it a point to write 500 words each morning before he can check his email, check Facebook, read the news, etc. In this way, he holds, he clarifies what information and media he actually wants to consume that day and can be a more thoughtful consumer, not an empty mindless one. I am sure that this works well for him, and that he is very prolific, and that he has always been nice to his mother and held the door open for little old ladies. I’m also quite certain that he is not the main caregiver for two children under the age of six.

I said as much to my husband, and he replied sarcastically that yes, no one with kids had ever created anything, and that I had missed the point of the article.

I’m quite dim, you see. Dim and probably exhausted from being the main caregiver for two children under the age of six. So really, what do I know?

I do know that he composed that email response to me while sitting upstairs in his office, ostensibly working for a client that he probably met at a gathering he went to while I stayed home with the kids (The two. Under six.). He was wearing clothes, most likely probably clothes that I went out shopping for, selected, and purchased for him. He had showered and washed his hair using body care items that I, again, shopped for, selected, and purchased for him. He wasn’t hungry because he had eaten a breakfast of food items that I purchased and brought home, and he was able to focus because he made some black tea (that I bought) in the teakettle (that I bought). If he had to make a sudden bathroom run, he could rest easy knowing that there would be toilet paper, because I would have noted that we needed some and gone to the store to provide it. He needn’t be preoccupied with what he’ll have for lunch that day (because there’s food that I bought) or what he will have for dinner that night (because I will have shopped for, planned, and prepared the meal). He doesn’t need to worry that his children are due for an appointment with the pediatrician or some vaccinations, because I handle all that. No concerns that they might not be going to the correct preschool or that they need new clothes or that they won’t be registered for kindergarten on time, because again, I handle all of that. What to do this weekend? He’ll never give it a passing thought–I’m responsible for planning those things. And for keeping up with our friends, and planning social gatherings, and date nights, and booking the sitter, and and and and…

Sean works, and Sean pays the bills. And mostly, he does the laundry and cleans up after dinner. And he sits in his nice quiet office and thinks nice clear grown-up thoughts. And he answers me when I text him in desperation at the end of the day and ask, “WHEN exactly are you coming downstairs????”. And sometimes, he does things like shame me by telling me that I’m not patient enough with our son, that I shouldn’t have that snappish tone in my voice the 78th time that day that he implores, “Mama?” .

He does those things, my husband. He does those things and he sends me helpful articles and can’t understand why I’m not able to just get up and write 500 words; when I’m already getting up at 6am just to get our son out the door for preschool. Oh sure, maybe I could dip into the 5’s and get up even earlier. But the 6am was supposed to be to write, too; but I didn’t factor how long it takes to rouse him each day, rouse him and make sure he’s awake and functioning and getting the kids ready for the day. So now the 6am is just to get ready, and I’m afraid that if I start into the 5’s it will just be the same thing, only earlier. And frankly, I need to check my email in the morning. I need to see what the weather will be like so I can get the kids dressed. I need to see if so-and-so replied about a possible playdate, or if we’re on our own. I need to check the local events to see what’s going on today, if the one indoor playspace has open play or if we’ll have to go to the other one, or is there a library singalong today? I need to know these things so I can continue to stand with our children on the merry-go-round of Maternal Love and Care, stand there and feel slightly nauseated from the motion but keep carefully holding on to them, holding on so they don’t fall and all the while keep smiling and waving enthusiastically at my husband so he can take our picture.

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