Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tangled up in blue

You know it’s a bad day when listening to Blood on the Tracks – the best breakup album of all time, IMHO – cheers you up. Not that I’m pondering any sort of breakup. More like a meltdown, which I had at 11:30 last night as Ess began what was to be a long night of fitful sleep. I sat there, rocking her and crying in a fit of self-pity about my lot in life.

Things are somewhat brighter in the daylight, and with a few (a very few) more hours of sleep, but I am still overrun. I am feeling the weight of an awful lot of responsibility around our house, and it doesn’t take much – like, say, a teething, wakeful little girl – for that weight to become oppressive, as it did last night.

I don’t want to complain about D; he is a wonderful father, a great partner, a fantastic companion. But our careers have worked out such that I am the one with the opportunity to make more money here and there via freelancing; he gets the occasional offer to be on call for the social service agency he works for, but that’s $100 a few times a year. And so when it comes to extra money for things like last month’s car repairs, or the deposit for daycare, or the annual car insurance payment, I am the one who feels the urgency to take on extra freelance assignments in order to cover the bills. (We have the cash in savings to pay for these things, but our savings are nowhere near the three months’ worth of expenses I’d very much like to have on hand, so I try to replenish the account as quickly as I can. And that seems even more urgent with Ess around.) He works hard, but he is salaried, and so his paycheck is his paycheck.

I’ve got a couple assignments in the works right now, plus another one that I’ll probably accept today. If we had more cash, I’d turn the new one down in favor of some weekend time to myself. Instead, I’ll accept it, and then spend the next couple weekends negotiating with D for time to work. I really don’t want to resent the fact that we made time for him to go to the gym last weekend, but there it is: I do. Especially when the time we made for me was for work. My sole moment of freedom? A trip to the grocery store.

And then there is Ess. Besides the obvious fact that I’m the only one who can nurse her, there are times when I’m better at soothing her without nursing. The episode that led to my tears last night was one of those. I’d nursed her to sleep about a half hour before; when she woke, D went in to calm her. He patted her tummy, gave her the pacifier… nothing worked. So instead of picking her up and rocking her, he called to me over the monitor. As soon as she was in my arms, she quieted. So I sat and rocked her back to sleep and felt sorry for myself. His rationale for not picking her up? The previous night when he’d done that, she’d gotten more upset rather than less. I hate, hate, HATE being the “expert” on Ess – it’s a role I fall into far too easily – but felt compelled to point out that the previous night she was hungry, which is why being picked up by someone other than me didn’t work. Argh.

On top of that, I am in charge of the bill-paying in our house. Which has the effect of making me also in charge of the worrying about money – another role that comes to me far too naturally. We’ve talked and talked about ways in which D can be more involved, but it always ends up that I have to broach the subject first. Case in point: Our stupid dead crabapple tree, which we’ve wanted to remove for a couple years now. Our neighbors were having some tree work done earlier this week, so I called D to see if I should ask them about our tree. He said yes. We talk about a financial threshold of a couple hundred dollars. Tree guy says it’ll run us $250. I say fine.

Last night, it occurs to me that we have no need to spend this money right now – there are those bills, and the approach of Festivus, and the impending daycare bill… But why does it have to be up to me to think of this? Why couldn’t D have suggested we wait when I called to ask him about it? (Answer: because he was in the middle of work and didn’t really think about it, just agreed to whatever I was saying.)

So when I’m already wallowing, this feels like just one more thing I have to take care of. I am tired and resentful. I want a nap. I wish I could stop my brain from whirring with all the bills and the obligations and the this and the that. I wish social workers were paid a lot more money so this wasn’t an issue. And, sometimes, I wish that little tiny girls could get nursed by their daddies.