A Letter to My Husband, Who I Love, but Who I Hope I Like More Tomorrow


I can remember three separate occasions on which I’ve cried openly in front of my father since learning the shame inherent in crying openly.

The first was the night my mother left us.  I was fifteen, and he sat beside me in my bedroom while I sobbed into my pillow, hiding my face because I was so embarrassed and confused.  He stroked my hair, patted my back, and asked me if I wanted to go to my grandmother’s house for the night.  I told him no.  I never told him it was because I didn’t want to be the second woman to leave him that day.

The second was the night before I went to jail.  I was twenty-one, and he drove me from his house, where I’d gone to visit one last time, to my mother’s house, where I would spend the night before I had to turn myself in the next morning.  He told me that we all had to face consequences and that everything would work itself out.  It was only thirty days I had to spend away, but that night in the glow of the dash lights it felt like thirty years.  I faced the window and pressed my lips together tight, but the pitch of my voice gave me away.  I told him I was crying because I didn’t want to go to jail.  I didn’t tell him that it was really because I was so embarrassed for having let him down, and disappointed in myself for having to leave him.

The third was tonight, when you cut him off in the middle of his sentence.  He was telling me about his own memories of being my age.  The sun had just gone down and the overwhelming humidity of the day had finally broken and I was rocking in my rocking chair and listening to him and thinking how unusual – but how thoroughly nice – it was to have him visit and tell stories and just be with me.  I know you don’t know this, because you didn’t take the time to stop and wait for my attention.  You burst through the screen door with that wild, pissed off look I’ve gotten so familiar with, and you didn’t yell, but you hissed, “I can take this anymore.  They’re both fucking crying and I don’t know what to do.”  Then you stormed back inside to sulk and pout.  I’ll bet I know another thing you didn’t know.  I’ll bet you didn’t know that I’d been listening on the monitor and they’d been crying for under two full minutes.

Tonight is the last night I cry in front of my father over you.  Tonight, I’m going to let you deal with them the way you let me deal with them for the first three weeks of their lives:  all alone.  All those nights that I dealt with two howling newborns completely independently because my husband “needed his sleep for work.”  All those nights, frustrated and bewildered and completely forbidden to call you downstairs from your air conditioned bedroom to help me, or just to console me while I attempted to console them.  I had no idea what to do with them.  I had no idea what to do with myself all those mornings afterward, when I’d had no sleep and my breasts ached and bled from my failure at breastfeeding, which mirrored what I considered my horrible failure at motherhood, and when no one was coming to relieve me of any of it – not for a shower, not to go to the bathroom, not to sit quietly in another room or have a bite to eat – for hours.  And I figured it out because you gave me no other option.  And I’m a god damned good mother for it now, so it’s time you became a god damned good father.

I’ll be back tomorrow.  Until then, it’s up to you to figure it out.  If I can do it, so can you.

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The One About Poop


I’ve been posting all of the not-so-nice moments of parenthood and I sound like a Whiny McWhinerson. Oooh, speaking of whine which -> wine, I have a bottle in the fridge now that I’ve given up attempting to be Mother Superior and breastfeed twins. I know the social etiquette about drinking before five p.m., but what about drinking before five a.m.?

For the past two nights I’ve gotten these girls down at eight in the evening and they’ve not woken up until three in the morning. I think someone may be coating their bottles with Robitussin. And I love that person. But Thursday night was a bad deal all around. Harper was screaming bloody murder and absolutely refused to be consoled. Neither bottle nor poop cleanup nor dark of night could quiet the noise and I love her, dearly and with all of my wasted heart, but her cries can be mind-numbing and infuriating at the same time when one cannot puzzle out what it is that she wants.

Turns out what she wanted was to poop. Poor thing was constipated all that day, that night, and most of Friday. And let me tell you, after a quick convo with the pediatrician after discovering what can only be described as a poo cork on a Friday afternoon diaper change, the last thing you want is for your child to become constipated. Because what they want you to do before you resort to apple juice or Karo syrup…what they want you to do to your infant daughter with the thermometer and the Vaseline and the warm bath…well, it just seems as though it may border on wildly inappropriate and I really didn’t want to do it. I’m thanking all that’s holy that the warm bath was all we needed, and that the subsequent daily dose of apple juice has realigned the planets and kept Chaos at bay. They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, apparently it keeps the rectal thermometer away as well, so I’m now the biggest fan of apples in the history of apple fans, I do declare.

My brother in law has really taken to these girls, and fawns over them and buys them presents as though they are famous socialites or something. The one thing he just doesn’t have the stomach for – bless his heart – is poop. He’s always here helping and playing with them but when he opens a diaper to find that they’ve cooked him a treasure he hands them off to us. Even the talk of poop brings a reflexive grimace to his face. I’ve assured him that having children throws one headlong into a necessary comfort with poop and pee and puke and all of the important “p” words, really. One month ago I would have needed an entire Hazmat scrub-down had I found myself with poop on my finger or puke between my breasts. Now here I am, having had a close encounter of every kind with pretty much every mucousy, smelly, biohazardy bodily fluid an infant girl can produce and standing here to tell the tale.

It’s amazing how comfortable one gets with children – and with all of their byproducts – when one is given the task of keeping one of the little creatures alive. It’s funny…the thought of handling another person’s baby still makes me cringe with discomfort, but I’ve gotten comfortable swinging mine around like those crazy ass mother apes you see on the Discovery channel.

Random note to close on: I’m craving cigarettes and chocolate soft serve ice cream like it’s my job. The ice cream I get. Ice cream is delicious. But I’ve not had a cigarette since day three of my honeymoon. The day I discovered that I was pregnant. The smell of cigarette smoke now turns my stomach. Yet all I can think about right now is rocking on my porch with a Camel Crush. What is wrong with me?