My husband is an exceptional person. Aside from his innate decency, good looks and even temperament- he really likes to have a good time. I tend to be a little less inclined to have as good a time because I can't escape my responsibilities by simply getting a sitter and going out. The ordeal of preparing to go out-the tidying so the sitter doesn't judge, the staging of monitors, the preparing of the meals/snacks/craft activities so the house doesn't get destroyed-it is exhausting. By the time I have showered, gotten my hair to an acceptable level of unkempt, dug through the closet to find something to wear that doesn't make me look actively fat, put on makeup that is flattering without being too drag queeny, squeezed into my Spanx and teetered down the stairs in my rarely worn stiletto boots, I am sweaty and cranky and ready for a nap. That is right when my husband usually pulls in from work. He drives home in rush hour traffic, on the phone the whole time, sometimes multiple calls at once. He often sits in the driveway in his car for twenty minutes, calling back the hundred plus people who grace his phone sheet on a given day. I get in the car, an uncomfortable, irritated mess, and it usually takes me until well into the entree to realize that I am supposed to be having a great time, not a so-so time, because the price tag is for a great time. Sitters are expensive when you are neurotic and don't have a teenager or live in help. Restaurants are expensive. The whole evening can be three hundred dollars in a heartbeat, depending on who is being entertained. We usually come home by eleven and stagger upstairs, knowing the little beasts will be up in a few short hours.
My husband, despite the phone calls that come from seven am to ten pm daily, manages to compartmentalize his issues and deal with them separately, rather than the jumbled swirling mass that hangs over my head on a daily basis. He usually has a great time, no matter where we are, and his responsibilities are tremendous. His flock is a motley crew- the clients, his family, his friends, his inner life. His job is similar to mine, the dynamic of one party asking for the world and the other party expected to deliver it yesterday. The difference is that my job is to set limits and create balanced empathetic human beings. His job is give people the world-to be the person that Hall and Oates sing about in "You Make My Dreams Come True”. He is to cater to every whim, fancy, desire with no mention of limits or any sort of negative spin on anything or he might get fired. Try as they might, my children can't fire me. They drive me bonkers with their irrational demands and unpredictable mood swings. My husband has been almost fired on a few occasions due to the very same irrational demands and unpredictable mood swings( one client demanded my husband hasten his experience through U.S. Customs on his way back from a movie shoot).Having been an actor for the better part of my adulthood, I understand their insanity all too well. They have chosen an impossible dream. And my husband is the Dream Weaver ( cue music..).
So while I raise our kids, he tends his flock of talent, both factions needing the same reassurance and constant attention. Yet, at the end of the day, I am the one pulling out my hair and drinking at 4:15. He takes his abuse is stride and comes home cheerful and ready to make some mischief with the kids before they go to bed. I resist the urge to run screaming into the street and pour another 20 oz glass of whatever I can get my hands on, watching the clock go tick tick......
Do some people just have a better outlook than others? Or is his stress simply buried deep within his body somewhere, waiting to erupt on some unsuspecting flight attendant who refuses him the lavatory because the seat belt sign is on....? Is it my latent actress self, over dramatizing everything, yelling and beating my chest to my children's consternation about trivial nonsense, like who is to pick up all the Easter grass strewn about the lawn after the performance art piece the girls put on? or is he just better equipt to be a parent, with his endless patience and limitless energy for playing?
The truth is, he wouldn't pick up the Easter grass, and it wouldn't bother him a bit. I would notice it every single moment that I was outside, decomposing on the real grass and tangled in the rose bushes.It would drive me nuts. So, ultimately, it becomes my problem. It seems that the role of wife and mother has a lot of these issues of character foibles that dictate the domestic landscape. If a sea of toys on the playroom floor gives me hives,of course I am inclined to clean it up,even though it was HE and THEY who made the mess. I will encourage them to help,which they often do, but they rarely do it well. Usually there are several parts to various toys left jumbled in a bucket or a purse,never to join their toy family again.And no one seems to care except me. Which is well and fine until HE goes to work and THEY start chewing on ME about where the purple fairy with the broken wing is or where is the other pinto bean sized shoe that goes with the pink doll?? This is no competition, I know. We are certainly co-captains of the same team. I used to think that he should be more like me, and that our life would be that much better(read-more organized and cleaner) but now, after almost fifteen years together,five of those married with kids, I am thinking that it is I who should be conforming to his way of things. He somehow manages to take it all in stride, not sweating the small stuff( an expression I loathe),consistently happy and ready to greet the world every day with a firm handshake. I manage to trip over every bump,taking nothing in stride,sweat the excruciating minutiae, be consistently grumpy and ready to greet the world with a lewd hand gesture. It begs the question -How does he do it....?