Lead Parent

20150912_150456_resizedSo I am the lead parent. I have a full time job with early morning hours. I am still the one taking the kids to check ups, lessons, birthday parties and play dates. My husband vaguely knows where the children’s doctor is located. He did take our son to a dental appointment once. That is once in 5 years. He doesn’t do birthday parties as a rule but has accompanied us on a couple of occasions. What he doesn’t realize is that everyone hates kids parties. Standing around watching your kid eat bad food and run wild while you try to chat with some parent. You’ll likely never remember their name and you don’t care. Even when they offer alcohol. It never feels like a good way to spend three or four hours, not to mention the agony about how much to spend on the gift. Moms know when you got the gift off a clearance shelf. So the $20-30 gift certificate is my standard give or gift of the same value. I often get my kid to make a card. Why throw away another $5.

As lead parent, I get up in the middle of the night when the kids call. My husband started out his parenting role as the,”I’ll stay in bed till the ambulance arrives,” kind of parent. Well, the price to pay for that is that your kids don’t respond quickly to you in the lead parent role. Lead parents are the ones who comfort, care for and change wet and dirty clothes. Lead parents appear in the doorway and the children are happy and over excited. Last night was a parenting fail.

My husband came home late. He was going to parent out of guilt. The babies woke up calling for Mama. He decided he needed to do the comforting. My daughter screamed and cried. I was wide awake in another room. I didn’t go to her because my husband wanted to parent and it would be a giant fight if I stepped in to offer comfort. I was angry at myself, and at him. This was simply stupid. We were all playing at satisfying my husbands need to parent and not serving the needs of the children.

We all know who we married. I married someone who needed to grow and be less selfish.That growth happens in fits and starts then stalls. So I wait.

Getting up in the middle of the night, being sleep deprived, and eating badly because you have young kids, actually doesn’t last forever. It just feels like it. Already my children are growing and allowing me more freedom.

My husband spends a lot of time fighting this part of having young ones. But he is also fighting his guilt.

He goes through episodes. I wish I was a psychiatrist. I’m sure I’d know what then, what was going on his brain. But when work gets stressful, he will look for me to fight, and impose on my role as lead parent. We can’t just trade off when we want.  He needs to step up and I will always remain lead parent until I can’t, and he can take over making the appointments, buying the clothes, making the lunches and picking up children from school.

In terms of childcare, too much is on my plate. But I married someone who can justify why he’s not participating. Whether it’s a reno or raising the kids. I actually get the blame for wanting to do it all. But here’s what… I am a black woman who as Margo Jefferson tells it in her memoir “Negroland,” we are not allowed to get depressed, or drop out. So I DO all the things that need to be done, and I keep doing….but  one day this past summer I had a case of vertigo and collapsed in the school yard.

I looked into the faces of my children just 5 and 2. There were no tears, no sign of worry. I knew I would be fine. My husband was not calm. He would have to be lead parent until I was well. He couldn’t tell if I’d be ok.

In that moment I remember thinking…he is so dumb.

I was fine in the end. No sign of any medical problem.  No diagnosis. I went home that night.

So my husband is at work, likely having a bad day. His go to fight tonight, I am sure, will be a,” why we don’t have enough sex.” Well the moment the children get home, we’ll have some dinner, then head back to school for parent teacher night. They’ll have to come with me. It would be a big ask for him to leave work by 7pm. That’s why I’m the lead parent.

Bw

And my white doctor said….

CLIVE
CLIVE

I walked into an antique store. The coloured glass drew me inside. Of course the antique dealers where chatty. Their stuff was good. I was starting to feel obliged to buy something especially after One of the partners opened his $400 Hydro bill which was cheap he said. So, I get to talking with Clive. Yes, I’m out for a walk , I say, to stay in better shape than riding my bike. Clive launches into this story about falling off his bike, and breaking three ribs. ‘I went uptown to the hospital and ‘this Chinese doctor, said I was fine… then I went to this white doctor a few days later who saw right away, that I had three broken ribs!’

WHAT!?

I was about to buy a broach to help out with the Hydro bill. I had to walk out. Before I did, I stood at the counter just looking at him talk. I wanted to ask what exactly he meant. But really who cares. He’s been telling that story for over a decade.I didn’t want him to explain. That was just plain racist…it was also in the way he did a little Chinese  accent. Terrible. In these moments, its hard for me to call people out. I just walk away. I chocked on the words “CLIVE YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.” Talk about people’s competence, leave their race out of it. Any medical association will tell you there are also bad white doctors. I failed in not correcting a fool.

Why did he say that to me? I ran from Clive to find a coffee…a strong one.

Under Pressure

XaSdA
Designing Duo Colin and Justin and our European guests

My husband’s friends were coming to dinner. They are in from someplace in Germany… oh and they know Colin and Justin. Who are they, and so? Well they are a design duo with style in spades. They play with colour and pattern no matter what’s in vogue. I adore them and have watched them on tv.

I was at the park getting grubby with my kids when my husband calls to say they are  coming along to meet up with our dinner guests. In my mind the ultimate interior decorators are coming and my house looks like a wind storm blew through. The Sofa….it must be vacuumed. It’s almost symbolic. Get rid of the hidden chaos and grime by showing that dried up cereal who’s boss. I tried to call a maid service. Sunday. Not possible. I was going to be the maid service, as usual. I forced lunch into my children at the park and texted a babysitter. No one was answering the phone. With only 2.5 hours to dinner, I had to think fast. What needs to be cleaned before people show up. My husband joked that I’d lose it, break down, and just fold laundry.  I came home, made beds. Stored clean unfolded laundry in the dryer. Took the dirty stuff and stuff without a home and put it into the laundry basket.

Bedrooms, even clean ones can be stuffy. I spritzed the sheets with conditioner and water!  It freshens things up. Cleaned up as many flat surfaces. Putting away paper and books. A quick sweep and a few bags of garbage later we were ready. I had no makeup on. But a clean face, a glass of wine and perfume make everyone look ready for guests.

So how did I do it. Collecting names of capable babysitters is key. At the moment I only have one. I started cleaning up toys the day before. Keeping ontop of toys is a job I neglect and regret. My husband and I are a good team when it comes to dinner parties. He does the food and I do the house. But here’s the annoying habit he has…. he likes to argue about highly inappropriate issues while I am rushing around trying to make it all work. This time? why we don’t have enough sex! Are you kidding me?!

These stress arguments are tough. How do you NOT  get pulled into them? If you know… share.

So Colin anf Justin show up and get a house tour. “Lovely, lovely, nice idea for a second floor laundry in a small space,” they say. When I think the tour is done… they ask to see the basement. “Sure!” I am really thinking whatever.  At this point I’d had enough wine not to care much.

I feel primed for dinner party/cocktail season. Bring it on.

Bw

 

Do the Hustle!

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What a banner day. I was up at 3am into work at 4am, finsihed my radio show at 11:15am. I was out the door to the grocery store where I picked up dinner and snacks. Home by 12:30pm. Kissed my baby, did a puzzle with her, said “Hi,” to my husband working from home, opened up the bills and then headed back to work for a spilt shift from 3:30 till 7pm.
I was home by 7:45…I stopped to chat with work mates.I cooked the fish I picked up and ate it at the stove! So hungry. My kids joined me for dessert…fresh strawberries!
So how did I do it. My nanny arrived at 7:15 to get the kids dressed and out the door for school. My husband, relieved of his overnight duty gets himslef ready for his day. My nanny stayed till after 6pm making sure the kids had dinner. Then my husband was on.
For my part, the night before, I’d laid out a compelete outfit for work the night before including shoes, purse and carry-all tote at the door.Bike helmet and keys ready to go. While the kids watched the Inanny, I make their lunch. I’ll buy mine because my lunch is actually breakfast at 6 am. I need a lot of coffee. I had two wardrobe changes with a split shift. Runners where just the thing for heading back into the office at the end of the day. Stylish comfort shoes are a must. I may be a mother of two, but when my kids aren’t with me, no one has to know. Of course I am a proud mother and wife, but I want to be my own person.

Hello Gentle Reader

Hello gentle reader,
I am a mother, a worker, a wife and a woman just waking up to what the heck is going on around here.
Everyday I am grateful to push through and sometimes triumph over a wilful toddler, who gets it from her father, and her brother. Then there is my job. I love it. But am I good enough? Am I enough?
This sounds like every woman with kids and a husband out there. I am also a black woman which to my surprise adds a complicated hue to everything. I am a glass half full kind of a woman but there are moments I consider whether the insecure inner me is actually reading a situation spot on, while the confident outer shell navigating the outside world is hiding her head in the sand.
I will share with you some of my struggles and triumphs. I hope to make you laugh, make you think, and feel supported. Here, you are part of the club gentle reader. Talk to me at heya@blackwife.co
Blackwife