Wed 9 Jun 2010
In an attempt to make peace in our household, I find that my husband and I have resorted to sweets. After a recent argument (stupidly held at the unreasonable hour of 2am), he came home the next day bearing Molly Moon ice cream and I, in turn, brought two offerings from Cupcake Royale.
Our arguments have changed over the years. When we were courting, we would spend hours in the car traveling the 1-5 corridor. He lived outside of Portland, I lived in Seattle; it was a romance we decided would only last for the summer of 1999. Together in the car, passionately debated the merits of religion, politics, and LIFE, that big, beautiful world we were using as our playground. I was fresh out of college and throwing around all sorts of big words thanks to my freshly graduated, newly acquired, academic vocabulary (‘homogeneous’ is one of the words I can recall overusing). Josh had recently spent two years in Brazil, and his new found worldliness made him extra sexy as he expounded on the struggles and hardships of South America. The hours we had in the car, unfettered and totally free, allowed us to really get to know each other…we decided to continue dating after the summer.
After I dropped everything and joined him to become a snowboard bum in the CO mountains, our arguments transitioned into that of any new relationship: space, time, food, and habits. Neither of us had ever lived with the opposite sex before. Standard issues like toilet seats being left up, milk cartons found accidentally left in the cupboard, and clothes left all over the place were standard grievances. Larger fights involved a certain person loaning the other one’s car out to a fellow mountain local (who didn’t have a driver’s license due to a head on collision with a bus the year prior). Time and time again I was continually putting my foot in my mouth at various parties (subsequently causing embarrassment and eventual scolding on the drive home). As we transitioned out of being a new couple into a more seasoned one, we learned to forgive one another’s respective quirks and relished in the simple fact that we had each other. The twenty-something years are typically filled with lost, wandering, feelings as one scrapes out a living and tries to become an adult. We felt lucky that we had each other during those times.
After marriage, we fell into a few standard arguments: the dishes, money, and, oh, I don’t know…me putting my foot in my mouth in front of friends and (his) family. The arguments fell into such a usual pattern it was if they were scripted. A few things were resolved, i.e: I clean the dishes and Josh puts them away. I am also in charge of sending Josh monthly emails that usually involve me FREAKING out about our finances (I don’t think he even reads these anymore). We’ve developed a series of hand signals which we use during public events (usually indicating the desire to ‘leave…NOW.’) When I was pregnant we rarely argued, so astonished by the enormous undertaking we were about to embark, Josh tiptoed around me in stoic reverence. I glowed, I waddled, I expounded my new-found sense of taking on the world, one pregnancy at a time.
Then the baby came…and at first we didn’t argue at all. We simply put our heads down and plowed through the inexplicable exhaustion, the sleepless nights, arms going numb from jiggling the baby in a rhythmic, hopefully sleep-inducing, dance. We approached newbornhood as a team, determined to make it out together. Because babies are constantly changing with no predictable pattern, it was hard to get any real rhythm going. And while the sleeping has gotten better, it still doesn’t change the basic feeling of being unrested that I feel from day to day.
After the first three months, Josh started sleeping through the night again as the baby made his preference for his mother loud and clear. I masked my resentment with the resigned acceptance of a martyr. Sure, I had the boobs, the food, the familiarity…but couldn’t the baby understand that a bottle was a fine substitute? Sure, Dad smells different…kind of like an office building…but that’s ok too! I always had this rule pre-baby: No fighting with Josh after 10pm. All arguments were on hold until the morning. Now the rule should really change to: no fighting at 2am.
Last week, at the unfair hour of 11:30pm (too late to be still in the evening, and too early to really get any sleep under my belt), the baby called out. I had been enjoying a really nice spoon, the kind where everything feels right in the world. I was so tired I was experienced “Floating Bed Syndrome,” where the whole mattress feels airborne. My husband had been whispering sweet nothings in my ear before he abruptly dropped off into a deep sleep. I was following him, blissfully, into a state of dreaming. With my child making his wakefullness known, I rolled out of my hubbie’s embrace and into the cold, blanketless world.
The encounter didn’t take long, about 10 minutes, before I staggered back into bed, eager to feel the warmth and love of my marital bed. Josh was not in the same position I had left him in. He was lying flat on his stomach, turned away from my side of the bed, with a pillow over his head. I slid into bed and tried to turn him over…wouldn’t he like to continue snuggling? His shoulder was unresponsive. I lifted the pillow off his head and made my wishes known…silence. I lay there in the dark, the chill of being up in the middle of the night still on me. “Pssst,” I whispered. “Can you spoon me? Hey…hey….can you SPOON ME?” Hubbie woke up with a start, disoriented and confused: “Snnrrgggfff.” Thus began a two hour siege involving me becoming the most unspoonable human on the planet and yet outraged that Josh wouldn’t comply. Threats were thrown, pillows were gathered up, the couch was slept on briefly before I bribed him back to bed (only to immediately pick up my spoon crusade again). The sheer injustice of not being spooned was so palpable, so personal, that I could not let it go. I found myself blubbering in the dark next to my baffled, (but stubborn), husband.
Sleep dep does remarkable things to one’s spirit. Arguments you would never have in the broad daylight at a reasonable hour occur in the darkest of times. The rational side of me is the first thing to go. Suddenly, my wild imagination takes over and I become this crazed, unlovable, harpy. I am lucky that I have a partner who knows me so thoroughly. “I love how open and honest you are about your feelings,” he once said during the many car trips we took on the I-5 corridor eleven years ago. “I never have to guess how you’re feeling.” The coy, secretive, Geisha was never my style.
Silently, we eat our ‘truce’ cupcakes and lick our ‘make up’ ice cream. Sometimes, I worry about the occasionally dark turn our arguments have taken. What happened to the sweet simple days of fighting over who does the dishes? Will we ever lapse back into making fun of each other’s house cleaning quirks? Despite this, there is laughter behind our eyes, because despite the argument aftermath, I know we’ll tell this story again: “Remember how I yelled at you to spoon me at 2am? That was so, so funny…”