Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping Score

Here's a Fun Fact before I dive into a semi-heavy topic: I just sawed off and consumed about four cookies worth' of dough that I had mixed up and frozen in a roll for later use. And I... I don't feel sick at all. It was delicious and now I'm also a little Awake! I feel like it probably says something a little worrisome about the state of my stomach that that much raw dough did NOT make me queasy.

So now the semi-heavy. Last night Jim and I got into- well, not an argument, just a discussion that turned into a discussion using somewhat prickly and sharp voices. It started with him remarking, not for the first time, about how nice it would be if I would actually feel compelled to get up with the alarm in the morning, so that I could help HIM get up with the alarm instead of slamming it on snooze, zombie-like, over and over again. He is a very deep sleeper. Deep like I often worry about burglars and fires and medical emergencies that would require him to wake up suddenly. He is fully capable of getting up, walking to the dresser to turn off the alarm, having a conversation with me about how he really must get up now, while still remaining technically unconscious.

But. I don't HAVE to get up until the kids do, and so I usually don't, because while I am not AS deep a sleeper as Jim (ever since the days of babies and nursing,) I am still by no means a morning person or a naturally early riser, and neither are my offspring. They have never been up at the crack of dawn like most kids- they usually wake up between eight and eighty thirty, so that's when I get up, too. The downside of this is that they're usually not fully settled into bed for the night until eight thirty or nine, which is, like, HOURS later than a lot of kids I know. However since I am not at all a morning person and never feel like it's really morning until the sun is up, this late-waking, kind of late-to-bed schedule has always worked out for me pretty well and I've never felt compelled to change it.

In the beginning I thought it was the good mama thing to do, because all the books about nursing on demand said to find the baby's natural rhythms and let them dictate how your day goes, if possible. And for me it WAS possible, so that's what we did. Both my baby's natural rhythms were to stay up kind of late and wake up kind of late. But now I realize that the days of internal infant timetables are kind of over, and it would probably be best for us all to be waking up and starting our day together. It would also be good for Addy to get used to waking up around seven if she's going to go to preschool in the fall.

I've had this mental conversation with myself many times- as well as actual verbal conversations with Jim- about how I REALLY MUST get up earlier and get our day going sooner so we're not still in pajamas and washing breakfast bowls out at ten AM. And how it would really help Jim to feel a sense of "Hey! It's morning time!" if the rest of the house was getting up too. But I guess the morning me is much more selfish than the daytime, rational me, because I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've actually followed through on those conversations.

So Jim has a very reasonable point and it is not a wholly selfish request at all. Yet my immediate response was to begin listing the things I wish HE would do for me that often go undone. My list included more intangible requests, like more compliments and praise and more cuddling and physically affectionate gestures (um, of a non MARITAL nature- I'm talking about snuggling on the couch here, people.) And these were also not completely ridiculous or unreasonable requests- affection is important to me, and sometimes it's hard for me to FEEL loved, even when I know quite well, mentally, that someone loves me, without the little romantic gestures more often observed between dating people than people with children and mortgages and slowly leaking pipes in their laundry room. (WHICH HAHA HA THERE'S A WHOLE 'NOTHER POST!)

What's bothering me about my response is that it's so SCORE KEEPY. Why can I not just hear a request/complaint, especially one that is not really accusatory or mean and certainly not unfair or unreasonable, and just try to meet the need, if possible? Why do I always get so defensive and then feel the need to make sure the other person knows what THEY do wrong, too? My points may have been valid, but they weren't things that I was feeling any urgency about discussing until HE started a discussion about an area in which I could be more supportive of him. SO what? Have I just been mentally storing up every little slight and wrong to have on hand for ammunition in just such a discussion? That's... not cool.

You know that passage from Corinthians that lots of people have read at their weddings? The Love Chapter? I'm pretty sure there's a part in there that says "Love keeps no record of wrongs."

Guess I need to work on that a bit. Dang it, I resolved not to make any New Year's resolutions and yet they just keep smacking me in the forehead.

25 comments:

Tess said...

Something that's probably somewhat shocking about me is that I am totally a Physical Touch person, in a 5-Love-Languages type of way. If I don't get any physical affection, I won't feel loved. Period. So, I get that.

I don't know what to do about scorekeeping either. I've done it, I STILL do it, everyone I KNOW does it. It's so hard not to.

Swistle said...

No, I get it. It's like, if both of you are remaining calm about the ways in which the other person isn't Doing Optional Things For You, that's fine and everything stays non-essential. But if he's going to pick a fight about how YOU don't do something that is, to be fair, an odd request that would require a sacrifice from you for something that most grown adults don't need help with, then it naturally brings to mind the ways in which he has similar--or even WORSE!---failings. If he had instead stated his need in a "Darling, I know it is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS that a grown man would need someone to help him wake up in the morning..." way, it probably would have been a different conversation. But it sounds more like he was being unfair and grouchy and possibly even blame-ish about something that is his own issue as if it were somehow your fault that he has this issue, so of course that invites a grouchy response rather than a Helpful And Willing Spouse response.

Jess said...

I do it too. I think most of us do. And while I think it's worthy and admirable to attempt to do it less (and I also try to rein in this impulse myself), I also think that it's important that our partners recognize this about us and learn to tolerate it. Torsten is very good at that. He doesn't get angry, he doesn't get defensive. He just agrees with me that yes, he should do the things I'm mentioning, and will attempt to improve in those areas, and then carefully steers us back to the original topic at hand. It's one of the reasons we work so well together, I think.

Shelly Overlook said...

I believe it's human nature to "keep score". I don't understand why but I think most of us do it. Is it because we're all egocentric deep down? I don't know. It's just something I try to avoid thinking about, other than the time it REALLY bothers me, which coincidentally is when I'm hormonal. I realize it's counter productive and we both do/don't do things for our relationship/family/life and that's just how life is, but at times I find it SO irritating!

Sarah said...

Swistle- The way you proposed that one might phrase such a request, i.e. "I know this is my issue, not yours, and it's weird that I need so much help with it," actually WAS basically the way he phrased it. Eventually, anyways- maybe it wasn't the FIRST sentence out or anything, but that message did get across. I just still felt all prickly about it for some reason.

Hillary said...

We all do it. And I think, in this case, I would have been especially annoyed in your shoes because you DON'T have to get up. Knowing me, I would have felt like he was calling me lazy.

(Not that he was -- I don't mean to get your husband in more trouble. : ) Just commiserating.)

Sarah said...

Shelly- Yes, I too try to keep this in mind if I'm feeling irritated: that we ALL do some extra nice, unselfish things for our family and spouse, and more often than not they go unnoticed or unremarked on by said family and spouse. We also all know pf areas in which we could be more giving, and for whatever reason choose to put ourselves first. This is true for husbands and wives alike. But as you also mentioned, at CERTAIN TIME of the hormone cycle, any perceived inequities can suddenly push me over the edge.

d e v a n said...

Man, I totally do that. I get all defensive and all... Well YOU'RE not perfect either Mister, you could do xyz and suddenly we're really fighting. *sigh* I totally get it.

d e v a n said...

Also, yes, my husband is lucky to have me. haha

Sarah said...

Isn't it funny how we never really did this before kids? Now, all of a sudden, it's score-keeping. The Smartest Man Alive and I do this and I'm seriously trying to stop, BUT you know it's just so irresistible, I guess.

artemisia said...

Oy, it is hard not to do. But it is hard not to get defensive when you are told of your shortcomings. It is different if you were having a conversation and asked him what you could do to help him, make him feel appreciated, etc. You know?

I think we all score keep, even if we try not to.

Katy said...

I think it's human nature to keep store, which is why the Bible has to remind us not to do it.

I'm sure it's no consolation now, but before you know it, Addy will be off to preschool and this will be a non-issue. At my house, which I know is strange, my husband and Charlie get up in the morning,eat breakfast together, and then I drag my non-morning butt out of bed looking like re-heated death. It's a special time for them and I get a little sleep-in. Works for everyone. It really is difficult to align an entire family's schedules, especially when only one person has to BE somewhere at a given time.

Shannon said...

I get up with Jeff BUT I don't HAVE to. I just do.

I love raw cookie dough. Yum.

Scottish Twins said...

I'm guilty of it too - it's human nature. I build up cases and store them away in my "special file" for later use. Then when any type of criticism from Adam pops up I immediately locate my internal file cabinet to find the best example of how he is a hyprocit. I'm working on it, but it's so hard not to do. No one wants to be wrong.

You know how I am about the whole morning thing. I can honestly say I am jealous that you get to sleep in. But if you do decide to start waking up in the mornings, once you get past the initial shock of being up at the crack of dawn, I think you'll really start to enjoy it! I cherish our breakfasts together. We all get to sit and eat a hot meal together, say a prayer, start our day. I also think it helps Adam get through his day and have a good "final" mental picture of his family all happy around the breakfast table before he leaves for work. At least that's what he says.

He should be his own alarm clock though. That's not your job. If anything - if he's desperate for that hot meal in the morning, he should be the one waking you up cheerfully to make you want to get out of bed!

Anonymous said...

It can be really, really hard not to keep score sometimes, and harder not to become defensive when a partner is pointing out things they feel you should do etc. Especially as you so rightly pointed out too that often there are a myriad of things we do willingly and happily for our family and partner that go unnoticed and unacknowledged.

In our house, I am the morning person & hubby is the night owl. That means I am first up and responsibly for hauling his butt out of bed every morning even though he is an adult & should be able to do this himself. I also get everything ready for us in the morning before we leave for work (i.e. feed cat, put laundry on, pack lunches, put hubbys things together etc) so that all he has to do is get up & get dressed (with the clothes I've already put out for him). If I didn't do these things, we'd only leave the house at noon. 90% of the time I do this happily, but on the odd mornings when he is a bad mood & he snaps at me or complains that something isn't done / why didn't I do xyz, it is so, so tempting to list for him all the things that I already do for him and all the things I wish he would do for me. But I try to be mindful and resist the urge. Sometimes it takes more effort than others - usually when I am tried or stressed or those good old hormones are at work.

I think keeping score is a part of our nature, and I think it is something that a person should work on. Also the way in which topics are approached makes a world of difference. So, I think, don't feel too bad that you got defensive with him - it happens to all of us - and just keep trying to be more mindful of it and try to stop yourself being defensive next time.

Chelle said...

Score Keeping = Human Nature. Competition is what helped us evolve. That said; I also keep score a lot and it also makes me feel guilty so, maybe I am not completely evolved, you know, YET.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Yep, we all do it. Doesn't make it good or right, but understandable.

When CG starts asking for something like this, I have to mentally BEAT myself to keep from saying everything I wish HE would do. And I often say to him "I'm really struggling not to go tit for tat about this so I'm going to listen to you first and then maybe we can talk about a few things that are also bothering me". I think its also a product of having SO little time to actually talk about important couple-y stuff, so when he actually starts it, I'm like "Okay buddy! Let's go there!"

Shelly said...

I like clueless' answer. Owning up to the fact that you're trying not to go tit for tat my help you curb that impulse. I think it would help me and I'm going to try to remember it for the next time I'm tempted to blurt out some "score-keeping".

parkingathome said...

Oh my god my husband does that to me all the freaking time, the listing of things. He does it in the defensive way of "but I do this and this and this and this" though, and god I hate it.

Then again, I do the listing of all the things he should have actually done, emotional stuff like affection and support and not being a total douchebag when I needed him most, and he lists the things he's physically done, like setting up the coffee maker for the next day or taking out the trash.

I'm sure it evens out, but we both think we're right, so we're at a listing impasse.

Ashley said...

Had to delurk to tell you how very similar this sounds to my household! Except we BOTH do it, to each other, every single day. I annoy MYSELF with it. "I changed kid #1's diaper, so you change kid #2's diaper" "But I unloaded the dishwasher, AND did 4 loads of laundry, and BIRTHED your children!" Ugh. It's an endless cycle.

Mommy Daisy said...

It happens. I do find myself keeping score from time to time. It's hard not to. At least you're aware of it and willing to work on it. I think that's a great thing.

Anonymous said...

I definitely get the affection thing, it's something I bring up from time to time. and I would go with the kids natural rhythm. My kids get up about 6 and if I could sleep until 8 I would. I find sleep to be a hard issue with kids.
We argue about it often. The other way around though. We own a restaurant and he goes into work about 11, so he sleeps late every day, while I get up with the kids. It's a constant struggle to figure out how to deal with it.
I enjoy your blog, by the way.
Taryn

Sarah said...

Hi Ashley, hi Taryn! Thanks for commenting!

Pickles and Dimes said...

J. is the KING of keeping score. THE KING. I despise it, especially when I am trying to talk to him about something important that I want him to do, and he gets all sidetracked by bringing up past instances of things I *didn't* do, and then we're in this ridiculous sidebar that wastes my time. Ugh.

J. has to get up early. To help him out, I get up earlier than I need to so I can take care of the dog. When J. gets home (earlier than me), he walks him. It's a fair tradeoff, even though I HATE getting up early and I HATE that J. expects me to be happy about it.

Marie Green said...

I actually have my scorecard handy, right here, if you want to see it. I like to be ready, if a fight should occur. =)

As for getting the kids up earlier- we had this same thing going on before our oldest started K. I would occassionally be up "early" (like, before 7am) and see through my window the neighbors up, lights on, people moving around, cars started, kids in winter gear puttering around outside, and I was all "WE ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE".

But it only took us a short time to adjust, and now WE are that family, up early and getting the kids out the door.

That's my long way of saying that I don't think it's necessary (except for maybe Jim's sake) to get the kids "used to it" just yet.