It’s Sunday at noon. I am on my way home from church, contemplating what the rest of my day is going to entail. I wonder vaguely when Tiny got up from her nap, or if she is still sleeping. I think about texting my husband to see when she woke up so I can know whether or not I’ll have to pump or nurse when I get home but decide against it, since it doesn’t really matter. As I walk in the door I see that Netflix is on, and Hubby and Tiny are on the couch. The first words out of my mouth are, with a scowl, “is Tiny’s onesie on backwards?” Not, “hello my loves” not, “how was your morning?” Not even “hi”. Just a simple, condescending, query calling into question my husbands ability to properly clothe our child.
This is a bearcat.
Cute, right? Yes. Yes it is. I want one. Unfortunately for me, I already have one. But not the cute, cuddly kind. I have the attitude.
A bearcat attitude is something akin to grumpy, but way worse. Think of a toddler throwing a tantrum. That’s a bearcat. Think of a couple people in a yelling match. That’s a bearcat. Think of a small child shouting and stomping his or her feet in anger and frustration over menial things. That. Is a bearcat.
Sometimes I’m a bearcat.
That one comment regarding Tiny’s clothes puts Hubby on the defensive and the next hour is spent with me silently judging my husband for not keeping a mental log of the times our child went down for a nap and woke up, seething with anger because now I don’t know when to put her down for her afternoon nap, becoming frustrated because my husband doesn’t want to be in charge of Tiny for another hour while I make much needed food, resenting that he wants to use the rest of Sunday to prepare for the game night he’s in charge of on Mondays, and pondering when the last time was that I got to do what I wanted to do.
Bearcat. Bearcat, Anne. Annecat. Annebear.
We did end up working it out. Communication is a big thing for us, so after both taking some alone time (even though mine was just stewing over my angry thoughts) we talked it out and resolved the conflict.
But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about that one sentence. “Is Tiny’s onesie on backwards?” Who cares if her onesie is on backwards?! Had I looked before I spoke I would have seen that Hubby was exhausted and concluded that the morning was not all peaches and cream. Had I listened instead of judged I would have heard that Tiny refused to nap for long periods of time, had a giant poop blowout, slept for only 30 minutes, and then peed everywhere after waking up from her ridiculously short nap. Not to mention that the milk I left out to thaw wasn’t enough and the frozen milk took a long time to unfreeze so the waiting period between the baby waking and being hungry as a bearcat, and her actually getting milk was fairly long. On top of that, hubby was physically exhausted from being down in Oklahoma all day Saturday playing airsoft. I didn’t listen though.
Why am I a bearcat sometimes? Deep down, it’s probably my intense need to control everything. But we’ll chalk it up to tired.
Either way, being a bearcat is no fun for my family. It’s no fun for me. I don’t like being crabby. The struggle comes in halting the crabby before it begins. In this case it started with one simple, albeit extremely passive-aggressive, phrase. I was in a perfectly good mood before I walked in the door and began my tirade of “my life is so unfair and I sacrifice so much and I don’t ever get to do anything I want to do because my husband is so selfish”. What pushed me into that thought process? Hadn’t I just been at church all morning? Isn’t that “something I want to do”? I think it’s that underlying mindset that creeps in when you’re a stay-at-home parent. That mindset that says, “I do way more in raising our child than my partner who works does. I sacrifice so much. They sacrifice so little”.
But they don’t. Even if they wouldn’t trade places with you for the world, it may be hard for them to be away from their child 8+ hours a day. You know the thought makes you shudder. It may be hard to work all day and then come home and be expected to carry the burden of lead-parent as soon as they walk in the door. You know by 5:00 lead-parent is hard for you. It may be hard for them to know that you, potentially, have a stronger bond with their child because you spend all day with them. You know how hard it is to be okay with your child wanting your partner over you.
Thing is, this whole parenting thing? This whole relationship thing? It’s not just hard for you. It’s hard for them too. So, yes, maybe you do deserve some time to do what you want and recharge your batteries. Yes, perhaps you need your partner to take lead-parent when they get home from work. But maybe, maybe, we could be more compassionate about it. Maybe I could. Perhaps, along with communicating our feelings we could judge just a little less. Maybe if I judged a little less there’d be less bearcat.