My new job: be the family’s rock. Two reasons. 1) I want to feel more independent; I have consistently leaned hard on the people in my life for help, out of a dire need for emotional or financial support that really doesn’t exist as a pressing need, anymore, thanks to all the progress I’ve made, everywhere in life. 2) I want to see my husband do the work he needs to do (namely: write a dissertation) without seeing guilt on his face for leaving me with household tasks. Example: cooking. I’m a terrible housekeeper and not a great cook, but I can feed myself and my kid. Especially since the child has decided to subsist on a diet of yogurt, grapes, apples, and chicken nuggets that come frozen, in a box. [The pediatrician promises us that he has never seen a malnourished child who was consistently offered a range of foods, and we do offer! He has seen issues with dinner around negotiating over what an how much a kid will eat, so we’re going the “CTFD” route, especially since the toddler is still nursing.] Nathan is better at most household tasks than I am, but letting him do something simply because he does it better than I do creates an imbalance that just grows. He’s usually so happy that a task is simply finished, he couldn’t care less about any imperfections. I’m the one who would rather not do something at all than do it imperfectly, often feeling like those imperfections reflect flaws in my character.
Lately, therapy sessions always involve some sort of checking in on my progress as Family Rock, and my therapist is a darn good cheerleader. She helps me look for the progress I’ve made, and she’s gentle when she points out that I’ve reverted to a behavior that is going to lead to an imbalance, again. If I’m particularly anxious and ask to sleep in, on a morning when I’ve said I’ll be with Walt, that’s a slippery slope. Because Nathan will say ok, and I love sleeping, and soon I will have slept away his most productive morning hours.
Yesterday’s therapy session involved assessing how much anxiety I was feeling over some issues that had come up a couple weeks ago and over my car accident. When the answer was, “Wow! I’m doing great, all things considered!” I decided to take on The Insurance Company and Do All Accident-Related Things. By 6 pm last night, I had arranged for the car repairs, the tow to the car repair place, the car rental place to pick us up, and gotten the name and phone number of everyone even remotely related to my claim. Nathan could have done a lot of this. It’s his name on the car. But I did it. Anxiety did not win. I wasn’t even anxious about talking to people on the phone! It helped that they were all really nice. Apparently, I’m the only one who wants to be hard on me for having been at fault in the accident. Everyone else keeps surprising me by asking how I’m doing, and whether I feel ok. Which is the response *I* would have, if I knew someone who had been in an accident, no matter whose fault it is. But anxiety and depression lie, and a favorite lie in my head tells me that I don’t deserve the same kindness and understanding that other people deserve. Well, I shushed that voice! I accepted the help. I took the paths of least resistance. This morning, I did it again, and calmly related exactly how and where I feel injured. I asked for them to pay for chiropractic care. I may not need X-Rays and a neck brace, and the air bags may not have deployed, but that doesn’t mean I should be in pain or deal with more headaches. The one appointment I went to on Saturday made a big difference! And wouldn’t you know it? Paying for the medical care in our premium entitles me to more appointments, with the bills sent to car and health insurance companies, instead of me.
My husband doesn’t usually tell me what’s going on without prompting, when he’s extra stressed about something specific, so I didn’t know, until he casually mentioned that he would be up all night grading papers, that he had to have a whole lot of midterms graded by TODAY. I can’t tell you how excited I am that I spent all that time on the phone, clearing up about 100 clerical errors before we could even get to what was covered or not and how to start making repairs, paying bills, etc.
I’m not sure how to explain this Rock thing to other people, except by example. I do have important jobs: I parent, I write, I teach HypnoBirthing, I make money selling Jamberry. They are simply not time-sensitive the way my husband’s job is, which means that my job in our family can include working out when everyone gets to do their things. My things shift around. This way, I can make sure I get to do them, without sacrificing the sleep and sanity of my partner or child. I don’t even have to sacrifice my own sleep or sanity (that certainly would not do anyone any good, since the consequences to that are pretty drastic).
My point is that being a Rock and taking on this job of ensuring balance feels really great, because the people I love, including me, all feel better, when I do this job well. There’s a nagging, nay-saying voice in me that says “Women always have to do this job! It’s a trap!” But I want to remind that voice that since I took on the Rock Job about six weeks ago, I have done more in my professional life than I had in the previous six months. My whole family was out of balance. We were all showing signs of wear. Today, we all seem better-rested, even though the adults did not get much sleep last night.