Saturday, December 31, 2005

Motherhood's a breeze

Motherhood's great. It's partnership that's the nightmare. I still can't belive how I behaved last night, and I'm still crying mad at how he went on. Tall dark and handsome, as Hellen called him, but boy can he be childish. And so can I. But the main thing is the disappointment.

This is the fifth week since I went back to work at the end of my maternity leave. He got to quit his horrible hectic stressful driving job, and really I doubt our relationship could have weathered the strain of that job much longer, and get to stay home with the baby. Now, when he went to work in the 9th month of Jen's life, we made his account joint and I happily spent his money. I was pleasurably surprised at how easy and pleasant it was to do that.

So when I went back to work we made my account joint, and I expected that life would continue as it had. I dropped him at work, I did the housework, I did the babycare. I know Maria warned me that it wouldn't work the same way, that the person who's at home manages the housework, that it would take time for him to be used to it. So I was ready for some degree of difficulty, but not total lack of reason.

I work a 4 week cycle of shifts, and this is the second time I've had a set of earlys. Because I work so far from home the trip here to relieve the night shift is a big deal. The first set of earlys himself had to drive me. It was my first week of fulltime work in two years, my first week back from a year off, my first week in a new supervisory position and at a new station - I felt like several kinds of idiot, and was exhausted, I'm still breastfeeding and nearly burst, the baby got a cold, and eventuallyI worked out that I could get a staff taxi from Leyton at 0441am. This meant we could leave the baby home with Kamille promising to listen for her while S rushed me the ten minutes to Leyton and rushed back.

I thought it worked beautifully; she stayed asleep, S went straight back home to bed, I got to work without a headache, I had a good day yesterday. I went home and took it easy all afternoon, and in the evening I went a did a big grocery shopping and cooked(the weather is foul this week, near freezing. I don't expect him to contend with getting the baby wrapped up enough to handle the weather, or plan a shopping trip that would be all indoors, and plan what to buy, and execute the plan, all in one day by himself. I'm not unreasonable, I just go out and get it done, I don't even mind, I'm glad I'm still needed, why sweat the small stuff?) But my energy stalled over the washing up. It was 1030pm and I had to sleep. Quite often when I was home full time I left the washing all day till late at night, when himself took the baby to bed and I had the time to use both hands, so I guess the household has got used to seeing a heap of dirty dishes as evening draws in. Well, himself objected when he came downstairs about midnight and decided to wash them. I sometimes got a little upset washing dishes by myself as the house slept, but I knew why it was the best time and I handled it.

He got himself into a stew, and he came glowering upstairs at 0102, found me snoozing through a breastfeed, informed me I could get a taxi to Leyton in the morning and went back downstairs. I woke properly and worked out that he was ill and I needed to book a cab, because if you call them they can take hours. So I went down, found the phone book, called a couple of places and booked the most reliable sounding one. Then I worked out there was no cash in the house and I started dressing up to go down the road to the cash machine, inquiring about his health as I did so. He was fine. He just felt it was selfish of me to get him out of bed at 0430am when he'd been doing dishes till one. Also, he didn't want the joint account any more. Also, he thought it was lazy of me not to have done the dishes. What use was I to him and Jen? Also ... no, it was ok, it's New Year's Eve, cabs will be very pricey, he'd take me to work in the morning.

I started to get out of my trousers. Then I bethought me that this refusal could raise its head again any time, it's the third time my earlys have caused a problem. (why? why? is my womanly working somehow less valid than male working, even if it earns thrice the price?) I need a way to get to work that won't give me a headache. Supposing I don't get one from lack of sleep. I went down the road and got my cash, and I came home and told him to get out of the bed. He could sleep on the sofabed. Ooo, he was cross. He swore mightily, and when I went to pick the baby up out of his arms so she could return to her breastfeed he wouldn't let go. She woke up and started crying. Neither of us would let go. Eventually he did, and he picked up her cup of water and emptied it over both of us. I considered calling the police. ('he threw a cup of water at me officer, and I was holding the baby' - what do you think?) He switched on the main light and saw how we looked, switched it off and went downstairs, leaving me scrambling for a dry bit of quilt to wipe the baby's forehead with. At what point does one have a battered baby?

We moved to the dry half of the bed and I slept for a couple of hours, and my trip to work was pretty smooth, but there have to be some changes. We only have to last a few more weeks for gosh sakes. When I went down I found his debit card thrown on the floor near my handbag. Well, I'll keep it. I guess some things I can't change. I'll have his name taken off the account and take the cab to Leyton in future. I won't worry about his having no spending money. I'll worry about maintaining access to my baby. But I won't wash dishes!


At Sunday, January 08, 2006 , Blogger Mica Nyambura said...

Some words of advice from someone that's elected to remain child-free for life! Bringing new life into the world is one of the most amazing things that anyone could experience. But it's also a marriage killer. It takes a special kind of that can weather the strain that comes with caring for a child whilst keeping the bills paid on time. Seems like the worst is over...provided that lessons have been learnt. I wouldn't consider what happened as battery though, but it certainly does meet the basic definition of assault. You really do have to confront him about it and make it understood that it cannot happen again. The next time, it might not be water on your heads. Seeing things from his perspective might help. Not every man is comfortable with being in a seemingly subordinate role to his woman. Consider also that most African men will have been socialised to believe that the woman's place is still beside the sufuria. They will have their own (very traditional) parents as models of what should and shouldn't be.

Finally, YOU ROCK GIRL! If only all the daughters of mumbi could confine their menfolk to the homestead we might regain our lost dominion over them!

At Monday, January 09, 2006 , Blogger AfroFeminista said...

Hope it all works out in the new year. I can only imagine that having baby, man, work, relationship might not be as easy for some people to juggle in the way you seem to have worked out (washing dishes at midnight). . .so perhaps it's also his negative reaction to your considerably well managed juggling abilities.

The water thing- not good! If Jennifer did it that's fine she's 13 months and doesn't know/hasn't learnt a better way to deal with feelings of a grown man - it's not right period!

At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 , Blogger Shiroh said...

Pole,the man is jus a bastard sorry u realized 2 late.And thank you for kicking him out...

At Monday, March 06, 2006 , Blogger mzakai said...

Hi, this is my first time on your blog. I'm a single woman in my thirties and I keep wondering whether I'm really missing anything out. Hearing accounts like this of our Kenyan men misbehaving really jolts you to reality. I'm sorry for what you've been through. Although many women will say that yous hasn't been "so bad", I strongly support you for kicking him out. You and your baby need peace in your life. Please negotiate someother way to share the child, but I simply cannot forgive a man that can assault his own child. I feel your pain and I wish you all the best. You are a very strong woman and thank you for sharing your life through your blog.


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