in Toby’s defense

Part of me knew that you might come to the conclusion that Toby was a “hands-off” dad when I wrote yesterday’s post. Part of me knew I should be careful not to paint too negative a picture of the way things are in my marriage. But I wasn’t careful because I was so caught up in my own frustration with the matter at hand (which is not that Toby isn’t involved as a father, because believe me he is…) but instead that I can’t figure out how to juggle what I have on my plate right now.

So I apologize, not to Toby, but to you because I made myself out to be some kind of super hero mom who does it all and I didn’t really make it clear that I have a wonderful husband (though eccentric and prickly) who makes it possible for me to be a super hero mom. Without him, I would be working a 9-5 job and probably hating it. I have the greatest career of all time. I am a mom who doesn’t have to work. I hope it is not too bold to say this, but in today’s society where it takes two incomes to make it, this is the biggest kind of luxury I could ever have.

I know this is a topic that could cause a lot of heated debate but this is where I stand on the matter. No matter how much I love to work and no matter how happy it makes me to be a money-making machine, my chief goal in life is to be the best mom I could ever possibly be to my baby. I guess my point of division might be: how much freelance work can I do and how many crazy whacky hobbies can I have before they start taking away from my time with my baby?

Here’s the part where I will try to paint a clearer picture of who Toby is. Yes, he read yesterday’s post and yes, it made him a little bit upset. Not because of what you might think of him. (Thankfully he’s long gotten over how he might be portrayed on my crazy blog.) But because he was hurt that I might actually feel this way about him too. Every day he comes home from work exhausted and he thinks he just can’t go on another day but when he sees his wife with a smile on her face and she’s holding a baby who’s getting chubbier every day, he knows it all is worth it.

Toby works on his computer color correcting images until four in the morning nearly every night. Sometimes six. Sometimes he doesn’t go to bed at all. And in the morning (though never very early) he goes out and photographs houses until eight or nine at night. He might not keep regular hours, but he works very hard. His phone rings off the hook. Did I mention he climbs rocks and hangs off cliffs too?

When he is at home he can’t walk by the baby without engaging her in some kind of complicated baby goo-goo game that often over stimulates her to the point that I have to stop him and take the baby away so she can calm down. Toby loves his daughter so much it’s crazy. He worries about her constantly. He’s paranoid and he won’t let me do anything without some kind of long diatribe about how I need to drive carefully and watch her head as I walk through doorways. If you were in Toby’s head you’d think the world was filled with crazy banshees who run red lights and talk on their cell phones while they eat cheeseburgers.

Toby loves his family and I’m worried that I don’t really talk about that much on this blog. I guess I just assumed that it was in between the lines because I write so many posts about how lucky I am to be able to be a mom who takes walks on the beach every day. One thing I didn’t write about is that I’m a rebel. I’m not really the submissive wife who cooks and cleans and makes sure there is a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge every day. Sure I do those things but I also argue and fight and I have a pretty sharp tongue on me. Ask anybody who grew up with me, or worked with me (thinking of you Karoni).

I also tend to grumble and I’m good at it. When I was working the corporate job, I grumbled about the morons who made me attend mindless meetings every day. When I was in college, I grumbled about the bureaucracy who made me stand in lines for financial aid for hours and then sent me home without any money to pay my rent because I didn’t have form Q filled out. When I was a teenager I grumbled about my parents who were so busy trying to put food on my plate they couldn’t always pick me up from school on a rainy day. I’m just a grumbler and when things don’t seem fair, I make myself heard.

What I was grumbling about yesterday was a little bit more about how I can’t seem to turn away freelance work and juggle my role as a mother and a little bit less about how I wish my partner in life would play a bigger role. I think I lead you down that path because I was anticipating your comments and your solutions and I wanted to quickly point out that I can’t just hand off the baby to my husband. Not because he is a bad father and partner but because we have chosen to make our living in such a way that Toby needs to work very very hard. I hope that seems clear and not a case of “me thinks thou doth protesteth too much, Brenda”.

We never actually made a hard and fast “deal”. That was just my perception of our arrangement. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that I knew what I was getting into. I take my duties seriously. I know my job is difficult and I face it like a woman who can jump tall buildings, make a pie crust from scratch and solve difficult word problems at the same time. I want to be this woman. I signed up for this. I didn’t talk about how I have a three-month-old who doesn’t take bottles because I sorta forgot to introduce them to her during the very important turning point in which she became the most stubborn baby ever who loves only her mommy’s boob. I didn’t talk about her Daddy who tries to hold her and babysit her but who’s heart breaks in two when he sees her lower lip jut out. I didn’t talk about this because I wanted to talk about how much I love working and making art and how I am frustrated that I can’t seem to fit everything in yet. But like a lot of you pointed out, I will figure it out.

And yes, he does call my art “crap” sometimes, but it’s not like I take that laying lying down. I’m a fighter.

Date Night

So where did I leave off? Date night.

My Fairy Godmother (Susan) was successful and she managed to kick us out of the house for our first night out without the baby. Phew! We did it. It was actually pretty fun. Usually Toby and I are horrible daters. We often spend the time arguing or giving each other the silent treatment. We’re horrible. But this night we both knew that we had to make the best of it because it was special and we probably wouldn’t have another date night any time soon. We were both on our best behavior.

Of course we worried about the baby the entire time but it was pleasant and I really enjoyed myself. I had my first glass of wine since before I was pregnant. It was delicious! I think Toby worried a lot more than I did. Baby Bug always falls asleep at seven and I had fed her minutes before we walked out the door. I knew I had until at least ten before she would wake up hungry. I also know that Susan would rock, cuddle, sing and dance to keep Baby Bug happy. She is an excellent babysitter.

I admit that the thought to call home did cross my mind but then I remembered how hard it is to take a phone call when the baby is crying. I know she would pick up because if she didn’t it would make me worry even worse. And if she did and the baby was crying, it would make the baby cry more and me worry more. All in all it was best not to call. If anything went wrong, Susan promised me she would call me.

Nothing went wrong. Baby Bug didn’t even make a peep the entire time we were gone. She is such a good baby.

It was so nice to go out. I think I’m struggling with this mom identity still. I felt like a million bucks when I dressed up in non-maternity clothes and Toby smiled and told me I looked nice. It’s nice to be admired as a wife again instead of just a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. But I still want to be a hot date too.