Kurt and I get along very well when we're alone together. We walk slowly and hold hands. I say, should we go into Goodwill? as we're passing the store front littered with mannequins with missing appendages, and we go inside and sort through racks of pot holders and lunch boxes. I say funny things and he laughs. I laugh and he tells me, "You just did something that's very Amanda."
But, when the kids are around, he's kind of like a wrench in my works.
I told him all of this, this afternoon.
We were in the pool with the girls, and they decided to get out to play in the sandbox. My husband I, we sat in the water and talked about our upcoming trip to the beach. My back was turned to the girls. The sun was beating down deliciously on my shoulders. We discussed the long drive ahead of us, the Ocracoke Ferry, where we're looking forward to having lunch on the sand. It was nice; sort of like we were just two adults, talking. He seemed like a very nice boy to be spending an afternoon with.
Then I decided that I wanted to get some sun on my cleavage. (I'm in a friend's wedding this upcoming weekend, and my dress is very low cut. It's so low cut, it exposes the stark white, untanned tops of my boobs. If I don't do something about them, they're going to steal the show.) Anyway, I turned around to face the sun, and the girls.
As soon as my body was pointed towards them, they swarmed. They ran up to me saying, "Watch this, mom! Watch this!" They asked me to sing come on baby, let's do the twist. They tattled on each other for stealing shovels. They wanted me to say, "Go Scouty, go go go Scouty!" while they jumped on the trampoline.
Suddenly, the pleasant conversation I'd been having with my husband was just another contribution to the general noise that populates every moment of my life, spinning around crookedly in my head like out of tune carnival music. The sound of his voice in my ear threatened to totally disband the remaining shreds of my sanity. I said, "Hold on, stop!" and everybody looked at me like they had no idea what needed stopping.
I think, in a lot of ways, it probably isn't very fair to be daddy, in our family.
See, I run a tight ship. This tight ship consists of all the child rearing and household duties that allow us to get along in the world. Everything is neatly controlled by me at all times. It might even look like I know what I'm doing.
In reality, I have a death grip on our schedule and chores and budget and appointments because I'm only barely maintaining my sanity. I'm one lost sock away from the mental hospital at all times. (God save the person who moves my fucking car keys.)
So, I know how things have to be done. They have to be done the way I've devised, because... if they're not, everything goes to shit. Gears start breaking and springs go flying everywhere and by the time Kurt gets home from work, I'm unshowered and wandering the house in a bathrobe, eating from a bag of cheese curls and crying. (That's only sort of an exaggeration.)
And then, every week, right on time... Kurt is home on Saturday morning.
Finally! A reprieve from stay at home parenting! The thing I've been yearning for all week! I have help!
Except, that he does everything all willy-nilly. He takes care of the dishes before putting away toys and puzzles. He fills Louisey's sippy cup before changing her diaper. He brushes teeth after breakfast. He lets the girls play outside without brushing their hair. Everything he does sets off my wrong wrong wrong alarm bells.
I feel tense, having help. I feel on edge watching him part Scouty's hair on the wrong side of her head. I almost snap when he puts the juice boxes in the pantry instead of the fridge. I know none of this stuff actually matters, but it's almost more than I can take. You can't ask an only marginally sane person to run a household every minute of every day for years and years, and then just have daddy pop in every once in a while to put dirty dishes in a clean dishwasher!
So, we have a very schizophrenic relationship. I feel like he's purposefully putting my workout pants in the closet so that I won't be able to find them on Monday morning when I'm rushing to get to the gym. I boss and I hover around saying things like, "She can't wear that to dinner. That's a pajama shirt." But, the second the girls aren't in sight, I find him perfectly delightful. Enjoyable, even. I find him smart and funny and fun to be around. I find the sound of his voice tolerable. I prefer him, even.
What's a marriage to do, in a house with a 5 year old and a 2 year old? I'm estimating we have about... oh... eighteen more years of this scattered insanity on my part. Eighteen years, or so, until I'll be able to finish a conversation with my husband, without the sound of his voice turning into carousel music in my head.
I'm lucky that I married a very patient, humble person, because it's no treat being the only man in our house. It's no treat, being married to me.