I spent four days and three nights with my two babies and my in-laws while Sam was out of town.
It felt like a week.
I realized just how much I rely on Sam. Not only does he take care of things without me asking, but he also handles situations with our kids the same way I would (obviously, because he is my partner and we talk about this stuff ad nauseum).
My in-laws, on the other hand, are not privy to our parenting preferences. So when my almost 2-year-old threw a tantrum (often… because he’s a toddler) and my MIL started clapping loudly and then in a most panicked, rushed tone said, “Oh, oh, George! Look! Do you see the birds out the window? Do you want to go outside?” I could feel my blood pressure rising. And I have impeccable blood pressure. So it wasn’t good.
And then there was my father-in-law. If our plans don’t fit into his plans we’re SOL. While he spent three hours playing a virtual chess game, my MIL and I frantically looked after two screaming little ones WHILE my MIL cooked dinner. We were exhausted, we were stressed, and when Fred finally took off his noise-canceling headphones and strolled down the stairs, he wanted to tell us how his game went.
I’m terrible at hiding my feelings, so I was unable to make eye contact with him for fear of blurting out, “I do not give a fuck about your chess game!”
I’m actually a huge fan of my in-laws. I stayed up every night talking to Jan while we ate cookies and watched Hallmark together. Fred spoiled me with cream of the crop wine from his wine room (yes, a whole room they had built when they moved into the house). I genuinely look forward to holidays and vacations together.
But parenting without my partner was hard. I had a difficult time asking for help and delegating responsibilities. I felt silently judged for how I parented, which I’m sure was mostly my own insecurities. And perhaps most of all, I missed my bed, with its adjustable frame and cooling mattress pad.
Sam returned from Capital Camp rejuvenated and inspired. I think that’s what happens when you’re surrounded by passionate and creative adults and don’t have a baby monitor next to your face as you sleep.
A few days of separation is always good for us. I like missing Sam. But I’m glad he’s home.
On our drive to Charlotte, Sam and I started listening to Fierce Intimacy (Sam heard about the book from Kevin Rose on the Tim Ferriss Show. Kevin Rose heard about it from its author, Terry Real, on Peter Attia’s podcast). It’s about how to communicate with love and respect — even when you argue.
Terry Real shared this quote from Krishna Murti:
“True freedom is freedom from our own automatic responses.”
I’ve got a temper. I snap at Sam when I feel defensive. I’m even more hot-headed and triggered around my family.
This quote made me wonder, What if I wasn’t? What if I let the feelings and emotions pass? What if I stopped doing what I always do and tried something new?
I imagine I would feel a greater sense of calm and much less anxiety. And I bet it would improve the way I communicate with my husband, the way Rose said it did for him and his wife.
Sounds lovely. I’ll keep listening to learn more.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction
Robert Downey Jr. was a guest on Dave Letterman’s Netflix series and had this to say:
“The anticipation of hard work is exhausting. The execution [though],... I’m always down for a good hard time.”
I find myself worrying and stressing about my next newsletter issue and my next podcast episode and my next essay. But when I’m actually writing or recording or podcasting or doing the thing, it always feels good.
Deadlines are a necessary forcing function. But this quote is a good reminder that hard work — when you’re actually doing it — feels right.
Until next week,