Sunday, April 1, 2012

Opposites Attract

Opposites attract.
Likes attract also, but aren't nearly as interesting.
When opposites attract, the reaction can create quite a spectacle.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. I know I would be. My blog has mostly focused on a few areas of my life where I have developed some "crunch." Or as I refer to it, a little more natural, a little more green, and a whole lot cheaper. So why am I delving into something that seems so far removed from my usual posts?

Because my life is FULL of opposites attracting.
And by that, I mean that Hubby is truly my polar opposite so much of the time.
This causes some conflicts at times. And by conflicts, I mean full on battles in the war that is parenting and life in general.

We are not always on the same page for many of the issues that come up in the course of our marriage, family, and lifestyle. This can cause some...let's call it marital discord.

Marital Discord

During periods of marital discord, many people focus on other areas of their life that do not directly involve interactions with their spouse: work, hobbies, social events, etc. I envy those people. I cannot "take a break" from my spouse like that. We work together. We live together. Most of our hobbies and social events involve each other.

This is both GREAT and ANNOYING. Ever get so frustrated with someone that you just need to get away from them so you won't launch a verbal assault at their face? I've been there. So I've left the house, dropped the kids off at school. SWEET RELIEF I GOT AWAY!! And then I go to work...where I work with him all day. Then I pick up the kids and head home...where I spend my evening and night with him.

We do pretty well with keeping our work conflicts out of our home life and our home conflicts out of our work life. Most of the time. HA! But back to us being polar opposites.I can't just post this without a few examples, right?

Fighting off the Devil and Crack!

I am working on getting the Devil (aka pop) out of our house. Sassy has had some issues this year. At the suggestion of her ped, I cut many things out of her diet, including pop. She wasn't having a lot at home, but at restaurants and relatives houses, especially when I was not around to restrict her intake. So I cut pop completely out of her diet and Diva's also. I stopped drinking pop years ago for the most part, so it was not a big difference for me. Hubby is addicted to Crack. And by Crack, I mean Diet Sunkist.


And Hubby just didn't understand that having 2 fridgepacks of Crack in the fridge at all times was not very conducive to getting Sassy clean and doing better in school. We had many fights. Sassy sneak cans and I'd find them hidden under her bed. I took the fridgepacks and put them on the highest shelf in our pantry, only allowing 2 cans in the fridge at a time.

It seemed so ridiculous to be fighting the Crack battle on 2 fronts. Telling Sassy that she couldn't have it while she watched Hubby drink 4 cans in the evening. And I was starting to resent Hubby for not understanding. His theory was: "She needs to understand that adults can have/do some things that kids cannot." My theory was: "Lead by example." Clearly, we were NOT on the same page.

But then I realize: *I* do the grocery shopping. So I stopped buying Crack. And you know what happened? Hubby drank more water. And now something called Mio. Which I call New-Crack. Either way, it is a victory. The Devil (pop) rarely comes into our home. Hubby gets his Crack fix at work sometimes. And Sassy and Diva have no interest in New-Crack (Mio). WIN!

Damn Fake Friends and Hippies

In the last 2 years, I have seen the "She has done LOST her mind!" look a few times. It started when I joined a "birth club" online for January 2011 moms. I started telling Hubby about my new friends, the interwebz friends that entertained me and loved me during my pregnancy insomnia. I have formed life-long friendships with many of those women, talking to many of them daily and meeting several in person. But he found it so odd that we were posting food porn for each other (CUPCAKES!!), making jokes about having dolphin doulas at a water birth, or comparing mucus plugs to gummy bears.

You read that right. Gummy bears.

But he had never had fake friends, so it was hard for him to understand when I shared a funny story that happened to one of the girls or talked about our jokes. Most of which were not funny to him as an "outsider." But those girls were such a fantastic support system and resource. Where else can you ask thousands of women their opinion on breastpumps, car seats, and morning sickness remedies?

Then I found local friends. I suddenly was talking about women who had a midwife for prenatal care, had a doula at her birth, had birth photography, had a homebirth, ate or encapsulated their placenta, breastfed their baby until they were 1 year (or older), etc. I started talking about Ina May Gaskin and The Farm. I told him about amber teething necklaces and coconut oil. And cloth diapers.

And his response was usually, "Damn hippies." Now, please don't think that he meant this in some derogatory way. When I brought up something new, he would usually shake his head and exclaim, "Damn hippies, converting you to their evil ways." It was a running joke between us. But for the most part, he just listened, even if he was feigning interest. Many of the things that my "hippie" friends did were things that he considered "ok for them, but I wouldn't want to do that".

When he learned a little about the things, he could usually see the benefits and the reasoning, or at least saw them as something that couldn't hurt. Don't get me wrong, he still thinks placenta encapsulation is bat shit crazy. And he was completely weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding to a year, let alone past a year. In his defense, so was I because it is so abnormal in my area, but I moved past it.

But then I would start talking about one  issue more and more. Like cloth diapering. Talking about how much money we could save. Talking about how cute they were. Talking about how easy they were. Then I said I'd buy a few, as in a dozen, to try them out. And we started doing it part time. Then I ordered 12 more and we started doing it full time. And before you knew it, voila! The hippies had converted me and I had in turn converted him.

NOT Hubby the Hippie

Stop Controlling MY Vagina!

Oh, this one is the best example. If you have read my prior posts about the journey that led me to my unmedicated birth with Monkey, you know that I spent that entire pregnancy learning about natural childbirth. I dove into the topic so deeply that I found myself discussing doulas, the Gaskin maneuver, breastfeeding, red raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, and countless other topics with people. Like unwitting people perusing the pregnancy section at the local book store. I was literally so excited about all my new found knowledge that it was hard to keep me from sharing it.

Hubby, on the other hand, was less interested. He showed little interest when I shared what I'd learned about birth. He didn't want to do any reading on his own. He wasn't interested in coming to any of the local birth events I went to, such as "10 Steps to a Better Birth." I just assumed it was a man thing.

Then one day I was reading something in Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to Giving Birth" about how the "no water, no food" rule started for laboring mothers. And here's how the conversation went:

Me: Did you know that the whole "no water, no food" thing is old and outdated? That it was started back in the 40's when laboring women were heavily drugged to prevent aspiration. And today's standard is an epidural or spinal. The few crash C-sections that are done with general anesthesia have the patient intubated, protecting the airway from aspiration. But most hospitals STILL use the "no water, no food" rule. Even though it's been proven that it has very little risk involved and actually increases the risks of other interventions. CRAZY.
Hubby: Hmm
Me: This time around, I plan to eat and drink what I want. I will YELL at any nurse that tries to take away my food. Seriously. I will go all Pregzilla on her!
Hubby: *eyeroll*
Me: What?
Hubby: Nothing.
Me: No, seriously, what is it?
Hubby: *big sigh* I just don't see why we can't do it the way we did before.
Me: Huh?
Hubby: We did it the way the hospital and doctor wanted to do it before and everything went fine.
Me: WHAT? Were you even THERE?!
Hubby: Yeah, and everything went fine.

Me: Yeah, but I'm looking for "better." I'm aiming a little higher than "fine."
Hubby: But if we do it with the drugs and epidural again...
Me: Shut UP and get away from me. Don't speak to me about it again until you understand that we are talking about MY vagina. Which gives YOU very little say-so.

And then we didn't speak. For several days. Well, obviously we spoke. We had to speak to coordinate the comings and goings of Sassy and Diva. And of course work. But we didn't really speak.

Silent Treatment
 I don't remember the conversation that started us making up. But I do remember him saying that if I really wanted to do this (meaning unmedicated), to just tell him what to do. That's when I realized that he wasn't interested in researching all the decisions with me. He trusted me enough to know what *I* wanted. He wanted the cliff notes version. He didn't need to know the "Why". He just needed to know the "What." So I gave him a list of rules:
  1. Do what I ask, when I ask.
  2. If I tell a nurse to leave me alone and she doesn't, physically remove her persistent ass.
  3. If anyone comes at my vagina with a crochet needle in their hand (to break my water), tackle them.
  4. If anyone comes at my vagina with a scalpel (for an episiotomy), tackle them.
  5. If I ask for drugs, tell me to wait 30 mins. Do this EACH time I ask.
It was seriously that simple. And you know what? He was great during labor. He was mostly hands-off until transition hit hard, which is when I needed him. He was excited and motivating during those last few minutes leading up to birth. And he was so proud and happy after birth. He made sure that the nurses were not pushy. My water broke on its own. I did not have an episiotomy. I did not have drugs. He followed my rules to the letter.

Opposites Attract

So we battle over allowing Crack to enter our home. He doesn't understand my Fake Friends or those Damn Hippies that keep trying to convert me to new levels of evilness. And we had an epic battle over who was in charge of my vagina.

He is all about taking drastic measures when issues arise. I'm all about taking preventative measures to avoid them. He is very strict as a parent. I'm more laid-back. He is more mainstream, I'm becoming more "weird".

But the main thing that matters is that we can move past those (sometimes insanely) large differences and find a middle ground. I support him even when I think he's doing crazy things. And he supports me when he sees me doing crazy things.

Sometimes these differences cause sparks to fly, fueling arguments like wildfires. But this causes passionate discussions while we try to convince the other that we are "right." And passion begets passion. So while we are polar opposites, it forces us to see things from the other's perspective and work together to determine which path is the best course of action for our family. It truly makes us better spouses and better parents. And that is what is most important.

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