One of my all time favorite bands is the Turnpike Troubadours.
Turnpike was a red dirt band who was the perfect blend of country, rock and roll, blues, and zydeco music…pure Americana. Ballads or drinking songs, they could appeal to everyone. They don’t have song I haven’t absolutely loved, whether it’s fun to dance to, speaks to my soul, or both. You may have heard about them in years past because the lead singer left his wife for Miranda Lambert after they went out on tour together; and then he proceeded to spiral downwards after the breakup- sadly at the demise of the band (you know…the typical story of fame, sex, drugs, rock&roll, and the inevitable split because the rest of the band tired of the lead singer’s self destruction).
In any case, I recommend their music because it’s wonderful, and so contrary to the “pop-country” crap you hear on the radio these days which all sounds the same, and hardly qualifies as country in any sense of the word (though I very grudgingly enjoy *some* of that tripe)….
That’s not what I’m writing about today though. Today I needed an outlet, and music seems to be the catalyst for seeking out a conduit of release. I haven’t touched my WIP for months now, so an errant blog will have to do.
Turnpike had a song called “Every Girl” that has long been an especial and particular favorite of mine. While I wasn’t born in late October or San Antonio, I still always saw myself in the lyrics. However…today the song quite unsually made me cry.
Part of that may have to do with the fact that J and I had a fight on Sunday and have been in a Cold War ever since; or perhaps it’s the four non-consecutive hours of sleep I got last night between both kids waking up intermittently and crying for me. Everything is worse when you’re tired. But truthfully, that just weakened my resolve to shelve those emotions, be strong, and have a good day. On the drive to daycare, I fell apart for all the aforementioned reasons – and I cried for the girl I used to be.
I used to be fun. Light hearted. Laid back. One of the boys. I used to love going out every night for wings and a couple of beers. Or head downtown to go dancing. But I had depth too. I was in touch with world events and politics, without letting it weigh me down. I read books. I was never “too tired” for things. I seldom cried, and when I did it was for now-laughable reasons. For the most part, I had a good outlook on life and just tried to live life to its fullest, each and every day.
That was before. Before life weighed me down and turned me in to someone I don’t really recognize and don’t really like when I take the chance to self reflect.
I run from place to place, without enough hours in the day to get it all done. I go to work and do my best there, giving it my all (which, amidst the pain and tragedy of this COVID19 pandemic is no mean feat). When I leave there, I spring in to Mom mode: dinners, quality time, stories, play, bath, and bed. After the kids go down, it’s time to clean up the mess, feed and pay attention to the animals, and get ready for the next day. Maybe…probably there’s some laundry thrown in there. I’ll get a 20-30 minute workout in if I have enough energy but didn’t get to it in the morning. I try to do and be everything for everyone, and with a sort of resilient grace that people marvel at saying, “Wow, you are super woman! How do you do it all?! And so well?!”
But I’m not super woman.
I’m just me.
Just me is eight years in to marriage with a man I still love. But I don’t like him very much these days. This marriage isn’t really what I shortsightedly did not envision at the wise age of 25. We were in love and that was all that mattered then. Now, J is very much wrapped up in himself and his own career, a part time Dad and per diem spouse. We don’t exist when he’s at work, which is about 70+ hours a week now. To his credit, when he is home, he does try. He’s just never home anymore. And I know he never feels like his efforts are never [good] enough…but…that’s because they aren’t ever enough. I’m still solely and primarily responsible for the reponsibilities and obligations of house, home and family – while trying to have some semblance of a career for myself.
It hit me like a truck this morning listening to Turnpike…I’m still Every Girl. She’s just not who we though we would end up as: perpetually exhausted, humorless, underappreciated, and taken for granted. I think this is true whether you are a stay at home mom trying to raise littles and keep the perfect home, or working full time and trying and failing to do the same. I honestly think this happens to most of us who try to “have it all” in one way or another. And it broke my heart for myself – and for my little girl in the back seat.
I’m not the lighthearted, freer, younger version of myself who had no idea what she was getting in to when she got married, or when she became a mother. No inkling of all the sacrifices she would have to make – gladly so, but sacrifices all the same. No idea that they would be taken for granted, and even expected. That I would constantly be rushing through every day before collapsing exhausted on the couch only to be asked by a late arriving husband about dinner.
I used to be fun.
I used to have energy.
I used to be laid back.
I used to bend the rules where and when I could.
I didn’t just get through each and every day.
I repeat myself ad infinitum – Queen Nagger.
I’m the healthy eating police.
And bedtime nazi.
And rule enforcer.
And screen time monitor.
The “boring” one as per our daughter.
Not that Turnpike would ever sing about it, but now I’m every overwhelmed stay at home or full time working Mom who is trying to do it all, and: barely surviving, rocking that sh!t, or existing somewhere in between.
Now….all that to say I honestly don’t want to complain. I love my family. I want to work. I accept that that comes with a certain amount of precarious work/family balance, and pursuant exhaustion. I can actually deal with it. I’m just really tired most of the time. And that’s okay, because I know this season of life isn’t for forever. But the wind gets sucked out of my sails when my clueless husband not only doesn’t appreciate everything I do, but also takes it for granted.
I don’t want to diminish what he does. J works his butt off and is stressed to the max these days. But instead of giving me grace, he simply expects more and more from me. I’m not allowed to have a bad day. Not allowed to take the wrong tone. Everything I say is wrong. Or if I let a ball drop here and there, he wants to know why instead of simply acknowledging I have too much on my plate. Worse still, it always becomes a competition with him about who works harder. And even worse still, I pay for the times I take for myself, at his encouragement. It always comes with a price.
He has very little empathy for me – and that’s both in the home and at work. I had a breakdown on Sunday, out of the blue, which spawned our fight. Chopping vegetables as I meal prepped for the family (J notably only made his lunches for the week), I was suddenly drowning in unprocessed emotions about the things I’ve seen in COVID ICU, and the guilt that I can’t do more. But J seldom wants to listen about my job. When he does…it’s with mild or feigned interest. So I offer up the bare mininum, and let him talk about his day. Even if I was inclined to talk to him about it, he doesn’t make it easy. On Sunday he upped the ante by badgering me to tears about what was wrong and it blew up in to an argument.
He wouldn’t leave it alone.
We both said regrettable things. I’m not excusing HOW I said things, though every one of them was true. I told him he is married to a job that will mean nothing in 10 years. We don’t exist for him except for small windows of time – on the weekend and only at his convenience. If he has stuff to do, I better watch the kids. That he begrudges me not working full time and not working enough while also expecting me to be a full time Mom. I told him, his profession has shown me time and again that we are fine without him, becuase I can handle everything with him being gone so much.
J – on the other hand -said regrettable but untrue things, with the sole intent of wounding me. And wound me he did. He accused me of all manner of failures: ranging from “trying to get out of working but sending the kids to daycare” to “crying about COVID all the time” to telling him he’s worthless and useless (something I’ve never said). To make matters worse he suggested I come up with a list of improvements for us to work on…and I don’t know how to interpret that when he’s gone from sunup past sundown, and it’s just me taking care of everything. So it’s just me who needs improvement. He also beat me over the head with the fact that I had plans to see my best friend for the first time in 8 years next weekend, on one night away…and that all my issues with him are merely a manipulation of the whole situation -when I don’t have the slightest clue as to what bee crawled up his britches to begin with. Gas lighting to the extreme.
I can’t continue on as we are. I can’t be a full time professional, a full time mom, housekeeper, laundress, grocer, chef, errand runner, favor doer, playmate, chauffeur, and participate in all the unit activities expected of a field grade officer’s wife. Additionally, I’m the one who comes to him to make up in fights. I’m the one who schedules dates and babysitters and counseling appoints. The only thing that exists for my husband is his job. He’s more married to his cell phone than he is to me…and I can’t do it all, by myself, anymore. I shouldn’t have to. At some point, something has to give.
And some gratitude would be nice.
Anyway. This turned in to more of a rambling diatribe than I originally intended. I’m wondering if my husband will actually speak to me tonight, or if my unwillingness to be the peacemaker – yet again – will only prolong our estrangement. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to work it out with him right now.
Maybe I’m not “every girl” and it’s just me trying “to have it all” but failing miserably.