My husband and I are a pretty happy-go-lucky couple. For the most part. Sometimes. Okay honestly, it’s been 13 years and three kids, and we’re basically in survival mode over here, people.
While we may be on the same page when it comes to parenting, finances, and even politics, there’s one area of stark contrast that has caused more fights in the last decade than I can count: Who gets to sleep in on the weekends.
Before we had kids, this was basically a non-issue. But now that we have three kids who all like to be up the second a ray of sunshine pokes the night sky, battle lines have been drawn — and like it or not, I have never won the quest to catch a few more Zzzs. It seems my kids have needed Mom just a little more than Dad these last … oh, eight or so years.
And look, I get it — it’s not like my husband can breastfeed. At least during these early years, motherhood has meant that I’ve had to adapt to being an early riser. But it can also be a tough pill to swallow.
I was bitter for years about the uneven score between us, and would often rant and rave in my own little thought bubbles about how unfair it is that my husband gets to sleep in on the weekend while I am up for HOURS tending to our kids. Why do I only get to sleep past 7 AM on my birthday and Mother’s Day, for crying out loud?!
And get this — last Mother’s Day, I didn’t get to sleep in at all!
While my husband blissfully slept until 10 AM or later on Saturday mornings, my blood would silently boil in the other room, and I would happily look the other way if the kids got loud upstairs. The angry devil in my head would actually hope that my kids would wake his lazy derrière.
But if I’ve learned anything in 13 years of marriage, it’s this: that man can sleep through anything — so my endeavors for revenge were always futile.
I’m not sure when it finally struck me, but one day I realized that I was actually going about this sleeping-in-not-being-fair thing all wrong. Instead of marching around our marriage in a huff over how exhausted I am and how much I would like to just sleep in FOR ONCE, it occurred to me that I just needed to balance the scales of justice in our house.
One day, after my husband rolled out of bed — at almost noon on a Sunday morning, mind you — I handed him a cup of coffee and said, “Hey, you’re taking the kids for a few hours this afternoon so I can go for a run and get some writing done.”
I can still remember the blank stare he gave me, as though I were speaking French.
Then I gently took his hand and explained to him in slow, pre-caffeinated words, that if he was going to continue sleeping in on weekends while I did all the heavy lifting, he could either give me equal hours-worth of “me time” or he could try to sleep through the new alarm clock I invented — in which I give our children pots and pans and tell them to form a marching band around his bed.
Yeah; I’m not messing around here, people.
Luckily, my husband immediately understood that my frustration was rooted in a feeling of unfairness, and since he isn’t a jerk, he conceded that not only did I have a point, but that it was long overdue.
If his sleeping in is ever inconvenient for me, then I absorb it and make the best of whatever situation is happening, because I know that at some point, I’ll get my few hours of “me time” back, and I won’t have to feel guilty about it.
And honestly, for all the joking and teasing that I’ve done to my husband about his sleeping in, the truth is that I really don’t want him to feel guilty. I just want things to feel fair.
Okay, and I also want to feel appreciated. When he slept in without giving me some kind of samesies, it felt a lot like his needs were more important than mine, and really, that is what got my hackles up.
Marriage is all about sharing responsibility and finding ways to compromise when two different priorities clash. The facts are, I’m a morning person and my husband is not. And while my husband and I are totally not experts at it yet, we have definitely found a few creative ways to smooth out the creases left by marital bickering.
Speaking of, I think tonight I’ll have him put the kids to bed on his own while I take a stupidly long bath … it’s only fair, after all.