Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who's Keeping Score?

Apparently I am.
And apparently other wives are.
And apparently husbands across the globe are not.
This, according to my husband.
I've never been one to engage in quid pro quo, but when it comes to life after baby I do believe there needs to be an occasional trade-off.

Luckily Doug agrees with me, which is why our marriage has survived Mackenzie's first year on Earth.
Despite the long hours Doug spends at the office, he always manages to help out with Mackenzie when he's home.  But he's supposed to, right?
Because the last time I checked, it takes two to tango.
On the weekends that I work and Doug stays home with Mackenzie I always come home to a clean house and a daughter who has been fed, changed, and played with. 
Score one for Daddy.
And while we don't have a set schedule for taking turns getting up with Mackenzie on the weekends when I'm not working, Doug is actually pretty good about giving me some "alone" time to recharge.  This typically prevents me from jumping off a bridge mid-week when Mackenzie transforms into a magical baby wizard who can do no good and resorts to evil ways in order to get exactly what she wants from me.
That said...
This past weekend Doug and I forged a deal.
I'd take Mackenzie for a long walk Saturday morning so Doug could sleep in.  In return he would take Mackenzie out for breakfast Sunday morning so that I could get some rest.
Sounds perfect, right?
By late Saturday afternoon I had become somewhat suspicious of our pact.
I had held up my end of the bargain, giving Doug approximately an hour and a half of golden silence that morning.  So why did he spend Saturday afternoon napping on the couch while I struggled to bathe a slippery, screaming toddler who had rubbed soap in her eyes?
It didn't seem fair.  But then again, could I really blame this guy for falling asleep on the couch? The guy who works 13-hour days to provide for his family? The guy who loves Mackenzie and I unconditionally? The guy who would do anything for us? The guy who's constantly telling me what a great mom I am and sometimes has to force me out the door to go do something for myself for a change?
These thoughts crossed my mind as I tried -- unsuccessfully -- to wrangle Mackenzie in the tub as she wailed, and wailed, and wailed.
I was still jaded.
Fast forward to the barbecue we went to Saturday night.  
It was there that Doug brought up this whole scorecard thing.
I happened to tell one friend that her husband really "owed" her since she was alone with the baby while he enjoyed a guys weekend at the beach.  My friend agreed, adding that her husband owed her big time.  Doug shook his head in astonishment.  The guy can't take a little break without it being recorded in the books and ultimately used against him? 
Then Doug overheard a conversation with another friend who was plotting our moms' night out this week.  She said she wasn't sure she could make it since her husband had a softball game the same night.  "He got the last social outing, so I'm pretty sure this one is mine," remarked the hostess.
Again, Doug stood shaking his head, half laughing at us, half rolling his eyes in disbelief.
He couldn't entertain the thought of us SAHMs keeping score, turning our married lives into a game of tit for tat.  I guess he doesn't subscribe to the theory that all's fair in love and war.
But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with his position.
Our relationship, however it has transformed since having a baby together, has always been based on unconditional love.
That sounds utterly cliche but it's the truth.
We spent our first vacation together sick.
It was during that trip that we both realized we were meant to be.
Had that not been the case, one of us would have definitely hightailed it out of that resort without ever looking back.
There's nothing sexy about getting ill on your first vacation as a newly-established couple.  We spent our romantic getaway in the Dominican Republic fetching each other ice water and bottles of Advil and Imodium, only for it to culminate in an hours-long adventure that involved several flight delays spent in a scorching hot, thatched roof airport with nothing but wet wipes to alleviate our pain and suffering.
But during that trip I never so much as flinched when Doug asked me for something.
And he was always quick to get me whatever I needed, regardless of how burdensome my request was.  Half the time neither one of us needed to ask for anything; we just kind of knew how to take care of each other.  
This behavior -- waiting on your partner hand and foot, lifting them up when they're feeling down -- is something that falls by the wayside when you have a child.  Because then, the child becomes the priority and -- like it or not -- you begin to lose sight of the thing that brought the two of you together in the first place.
So, while I spent the weekend tallying points in the Rohrbeck Family Playbook, the only score Doug tracked was that of the U.S.A. Women's World Cup soccer team, with Mackenzie by his side.
In the future I'll have to remind myself that -- in marriage, at least -- it's not about who has the most points on the board.  It's about stepping up your game when your teammate needs you the most.  

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