I can’t let my husband do the grocery shopping and I’m having trouble letting him balance the checkbook. It’s not that I do such a stellar job at either of those things that I’m worried he’ll screw it up, it’s just I can’t let it go.
I have to be the one to turn in school forms, I have to be the one to call the mechanic. I have to make the bank deposits, call the doctor, buy the Christmas presents. Seth is not asking me to do all of these things, he’s actually begging me not to, but I think all of it – everything in our lives – is my job. I’m not sure how I’ve come to this place and I’m really not sure how to get out of it.
Seth and I recently switched banks. The idea was after the transition he’d take over the finances for a while. I cannot even write that sentence without holding my breath. He’s a grown up. He spends less money than I do. He owns a calculator. Why is it so hard? Maybe it’s because I’ve always been the one in charge of our finances? Maybe it’s a feminist/gender/power balance thing? Or maybe I just have issues. I’m going with the latter and hoping I can actually hand over the checkbook when the time comes.
Lucille was starting to show signs of a cold yesterday with pink watery eyes. Seth made her a doctor’s appointment because he was worried she had pink eye again. I was so thrown off by the fact that he had actually called the doctor (without telling me first!) I asked him if he call the right one. He’s not stupid. What is my problem?
Somewhere along the way I convinced myself that the only way to do this mothering thing right was to do it all – for my family and my children – and I’ve never been able to twist myself out of that notion. All, by the way, really means everything from managing the money to refinancing the house to reading bedtime stories to dropping off AND picking up at school to making the lunches and the dentist appointments to making sure everyone has winter socks.
When I first had kids I remember someone telling me, “You can’t be everything to them all the time.” I don’t even remember who said this to me, I just remember thinking so naively, “Sure I can. Can’t I?”
For years I tried to be. Both Eliza and Lucille nursed until they were walking and talking. They were never on a schedule they just nursed when they wanted to. Day and night. They slept in our bed, on a futon on our bedroom floor and everywhere in between. Lucille never slept in a crib, just in the crook of my arm. I made their baby food, I washed their diapers. I was there every step of the way. Every playdate, every scraped knee, every night and every morning.
I gave myself over to them wholly. It wasn’t something that I set out to do, it just happened. I didn’t get a decent night’s sleep for almost two years. I ran on adrenaline and caffeine, and one day my body launched a tiny revolt. I got really, really sick. Then, after several months, I got all better. You think I would have learned my lesson.
But here I am, still, with an inability to let go, an inability to lower the bar.
Tonight was Seth’s turn to put the kids to bed. Both kids were nearly asleep when I crept up the stairs. I didn’t want to read the book or ask about anyone’s day. I didn’t want to do the things I think I’m supposed to do each night. I just wanted to hold Eliza’s warm body next to mine. I squeezed into her bed just as she was falling asleep. She put her arm around my neck and rubbed her cheek against mine. Two minutes later she was asleep. As we lay there I didn’t think about the lunches I need to pack, the dreaded checkbook handover or all the other places in my life where I need to yield control. I thought about one little girl, one hand on my back and how, in that moment, letting go was actually pretty easy.