I’ve been listening to a number of people vent about their frustrations about parenting their young children seemingly alone lately… that is, without the help of a spouse who is working too much or too tired or disengaged for whatever reason.
I’ve been told this age (infants, toddlers, tweens, teens — sounds like every age to me) can wreak havoc on marital bliss and that adding special needs into the mix just puts more pressure into the blender. Speaking on behalf of those with children that are my own kid’s ages, young children and their utter dependence can certainly suck the life [as you previously knew it as a single person or as a married-without-children couple] right out of you … almost but not quite comparable to the joy they’ve brought me, giving me a whole new lease on life; a new reason to live! Couple that freedom-sucking quality with today’s crummy economy, high cost of living and crazy competitive work environments where there’s no such thing as family-work balance — there’s only work — we’re seeing many more cases of “Dear in the Headlights” syndrome (No, that’s not a typo, I mean dear, not deer.) All of the dear [in the headlights] spouses are frozen — literally overwhelmed with the responsibility of work, parenting and home — such that they’re physically and mentally exhausted and virtually incapable of getting up off the couch at the end of the day to do, or help, with whatever needs to be done. This is true for working husbands and working wives — a pitch for those of us who don’t get paid for the work we do — for wildly (or is that widely) varying reasons on both sides of the marital/parenting fence.
Suffice it to say that, as parents, since we brought these kids into the world, we are responsible for them until they are at least 18 years old… Isn’t that where the proverbial “they” say our legal responsibility ends… technically? While that cut-off doesn’t even get the kids off to college (never mind help pay for that expense) I still know some parents who are counting down the days anyway, LOL. Ultimately, I guess there’s not much choice in the matter. But, what if there was?
So here’s my funny thought: Have you ever heard the old adage… If we all threw our problems into one big pile and then had the opportunity to choose the problems we wanted from that pile, most people would pick back out their own problems instead of trading for someone else’s problems. Supposedly, this is because we’re familiar with and pseudo-know how to survive with our own problems already… for the most part. “The devil we know vs. the devil we don’t” mindset. Well, I was thinking… for as much frustration as I’ve heard from folks lately — and I’m not insinuating that I’m immune to marital/parenting frustration any more than my husband is (We’re equally frustrated, LOL. I’m just being politically correct here) — if we all threw our spouses into a community pile and got to choose the one we wanted out of that pile, I have to say, I am 100% certain that I’d quickly pick my own spouse back out of that pile again! Quickly! Matter of fact, I’m not sure I’d even be willing to throw him into that pile in the first place. With all the complaining I’ve been hearing from others lately, I’m afraid someone might trade their spouse for mine… and there’s no way I’d be willing to take that chance.
In a weird sort of way, this feels like a round-about renewal of my wedding vows. “Yup, I still do. For better or for worse! In sickness and in health. I’ll absolutely keep the guy I married 9 years ago.”
And, for the record, there’s no way I’d be willing to throw my kids into any community pile either (Down syndrome and all). As Brian would say, “NO, MINE!!!!”