Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Thursday
Nov042010

The Tired Mom Needs To Get A Hobby Blues

Aside from money, specifically the spending of it, Serge and I argue the most about his fishing and all things related to it. Fly fishing gear costs a lot, but it's not too bad once you're all dialed in, it's when and how long he does it that causes the most finger pointing.

Here's why:

I work ten hours a day, I really have no free time. Not that he does either. He works five hours in the morning and then comes home to be with Violet the rest of the day. If you've ever been alone with a kid for several hours straight you know how difficult this can be. No one is arguing about who works harder except for yes, yes we are. A lot of our arguments tend to devolve into just such a competition.

"I slept X hours last night!"

"Well I slept X hours all last week!"

"I work X hours a week!"

"I work X hours!"

"Your job is SO much easier than mine."

"I am going to slice you right now, dick breath."

Stuff like that.

There really is no winner, we both work hard. I like to think that deep down we both realize that. And it shouldn't be about winning, you know?

Except on Sundays when I am clearly the winner, of course.

Most Sundays that he can, Serge wakes up when any self-respecting twenty-something is returning, bleary-eyed, from a well played Saturday night. Serge dons his fishing gear, loads the car and is gone. Most times he'll fish until six at night, often remaining on the river for ten hours or so.

On the one hand, god bless him, right? He's a good dad, the best, actually. He works hard and deserves a break. Plus he does let me sleep in on Saturday while he gets up early with Violet. So Sunday is a chance for me to make up for lost time with Violet. Except have you ever been alone with a child for ten hours straight? And what about when the wired, little animal doesn't nap?

It never really ends up the joyful love fest you wanted it to be. By hour nine you're praying to god to send a mild aneurysm or maybe inflict a nice flesh eating bacteria that would force you to spend several restful days lounging in the hospital watching TV and receiving get well wishes but clears up nicely in the end.

By the end of the day I get short with Violet, end up feeling like a dickhead for not enjoying every single weekend moment with my little sweetheart and I resent the hell out of Serge for fishing for ten son-of-a-bitching hours. I mean, it's my weekend too, right? By the time he gets home from fishing I've cursed him out for several hours in my head and am no longer speaking to him. Does he have to fish for ten hours straight? What about five? I work full-time, I yell at him. When's my break? Then he tells me I should get a hobby if I want time to do stuff.

Every time he tells me to get a hobby I want to beat the hell out of him with a dead fish. Or a really kicky live one. Or nunchucks. Anyone who tells anyone to get a hobby is a supercilious assface. It's so degrading. Because, fuck you and your hobby! When do I have time to "get a hobby"? My hobby is sleeping, motherfucker. And lately, eating. I have to get a hobby to get a break? So if I told you I was heading to the scrapbooking convention down the road every Sunday for ten hours that's all good? Right. Then we'd fight about how your hobby is better than mine and therefore your hobby takes precedence.

His declaration that I don't have a valid hobby makes me feel like a failure at life. Like all this stuff that I'm doing doesn't count for something? Hell, does it? I dunno. What do I do? Blog? But what kind of dumb ass responds to "get a hobby" with blogging is my hobby?

See that girl training for the marathon? Oooh jogging, classic hobby, says the world. And look at that girl cycling down the street like the devil himself is chasing her. Excellent hobby! But see the pale, chubby chick there breathlessly chasing two labs and a kid around her yard for the eighth time today? She never leaves the house except to go to work. And Walmart for groceries. No real hobby, obviously. L-O-S-E-R.

But I'm gone so much during the week all I want to do is be at home, yet not necessarily on my own for ten hours, with Violet. He's home with Violet all week and all he wants to do is get out and fish his ass off. So whenever he finally rolls home we argue and he has the gall to act surprised that I'm mad, again. And nobody ever wins and every Sunday night I'm giving him my best Silent Treatment with an extra large helping of Stink Eye because couldn't he just come home at two or three o'clock instead of six?

Well shit. I had a lot to say about that, didn't I? I guess this was a really long way of introducing this video. Last Sunday around five-thirty. Violet: no nap. Mom: ready to die. Had just bathed her from a biscuit and raspberry jam fiasco and replaced the jam stained shirt with fresh clothes. Let's go outside and watch for dad, I suggested. I ran back inside for thirty seconds to grab my phone and returned to this. Ain't it just the way it goes sometimes? Man.

Reader Comments (36)

shame on you for having wants, needs and the only mud puddle within a two mile radius.

what was it that michael jackson said? "you are not alone, i am here with you." that's it. you're singing my song girl! hang in there.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Really typical arguments; we have the same ones all the time (though I don't fish, I'm more into cycling or skiing but same issues). Compromise is the key to making it work, I think, which probably means he needs to cut back on the fly fishing time just a bit. As a guy, I hate to not take his side, but I couldn't get away with being gone for ten hours every week no mattter what my hobby was. On special occasions, sure. Every week? Not going to happen.

I also know that the way you approach these topics is important too. If you approach it as needing and wanting him and his presence, rather than accusing him of being a slacker or an insensitive fly-fishing jerk, that's probably going to have better results. Try to agree on a schedule, like "fly-fish your ass off for six hours, then familly time for six hours" or something like that.

Also, this is going to be soved by the weather soon. He doesn't fish in the winter does he?

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMCQ

Not to rub salt in the wound, but yours mans should meet my mans.
He spends ten hours on the river on Sundays too.

Yes, even in the winter.

My lady Liv also has super powered mud puddle senses...

Perhaps they shouldn't meet.
I hate laundry.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

It's the sound of the splashing that just puts it over the top. Oh I love all 3 of you.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZS

love how she found the only mud puddle within a 2 mile radius like you said, also love your sigh at the end....lol. not laughing at you laughing with you:)

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkacy

I just found you last week and I feel like we may be twins, ex mormon and all. I love your writing, the way you describe your feelings, and your attitude.

My Hubs has a million different activities and I do the exact same thing but I also call his cell phone a jazillion times just to have him not answer, by the time he gets home I'm a wreck.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Everyone is entitled to some free time. If you choose to spend that sleeping or watching tv or whatever, that's your choice. I think a little negotiation is in order.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Well, hmm. Those arguments sounds familiar. When I first started staying home, I nearly bit my husband's head off when he suggested I go back to work if I wanted time to myself (essentially that's what he said, he would probably say I did not interpret him correctly, whatever). We eventually worked it out to where I feel we both get an appropriate amount of free time. I would say you need some free time too. So maybe you calculate out all of the free time each of you has...and then divide it up. And if he's still fishing, you track him down and plunk Violet next to him and say have fun! and leave. Seriously I've found the best way to get my husband to do what I feel is his share of the parenting is simply by saying "he's yours for the next hour while I do x y and z" (which I usually include doing the dishes or something else chore like so he can't say no). Anyway, I sympathize and best of luck resolving it.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjen

First time posting, long time reader- I can totally relate because I cherish the quiet time I can have at home, alone, and feel often that my fishing/band obsessed husband does not understand this. So, what I am really trying to say is: thank you for sharing all of it. Makes me feel not so guilty about the arguments we have!

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCasey

Oh Monica, I heard your whole story in the sigh at the end. Men are selfish asses at the end of the day. Kids are great but even the most patient aren't fit for 10 hour shifts, ESPECIALLY knowing the other half is out enjoying his "me time". I love reading both of you, but your definitely right this time, at least compromise serge come home at 2!

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersharon

I have no business commenting, 'cause you guys have to work it out, but C'MON... gone for 10 hours? I think Serge should do a half-day of fishing, for sure. I don't think it's a matter of having a hobby, it's having some time to yourself. He comes home at 2pm, you have your alone time for a few hours: voila- marital bliss. hee

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Wow. That's totally unfair. When do you get your 10hrs spare time?! You must be due so much free time already.

My husband's cousin got divorced last year and I really envy her sometimes. Simply because every second weekend she has her place to herself. No responsibilities. No needy people. Just peace and quiet. Freedom.

I love our kids blind and my husband too but everybody needs some quiet time. Especially me.

We used to have those sick fights too about who's the busiest but once your kids are over 3 it gets easier. Hang in there. Only over 3 more years to go! Just don't make the mistake of giving your kids TOO much attention ....I was a complete freak with our first kid and he's very demanding, difficult etc. Kid nr 2 got well ignored and she's cruisy as. What's brilliant about producing child nr 2 is that after about 2 yrs you've got a ready made playmate for your first one and VOILA! Some free time for you and your mate, until the kids try to kill each other after an hour or so.

I sincerely wish you and Serge all the best. Life will get easier.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen

i think the icing on the no-good-terrible cake is the ARM FLAPPING! to counter the splashing feet. she is such a cute lil angel!

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRhea

my hobby is sleeping, motherfucker. hahahahah... i LOVE this post.. thanks for writing it.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

You've gotta admit, it's pretty adorable really..!!!

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I am sitting here at home on a Friday night while my husband is visiting friends overseas with the baby asleep upstairs and just laughing so hard... Violet is clearly just loving that puddle which is so adorable.... but I can just see you taking her back inside and changing her clothes AGAIN and getting her clean AGAIN and adding to that growing pile of washing and just as it all gets clean your husband walks through the door....
For what it is worth - my suggestion to allow you to get some time for yourself is to find something to do - a course, an exercise class, a movie screening, a massage at about 2.30pm on a Sunday... that way you can say to Serge you need to be home at 2pm so that I can do my hobby....

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgina

What about Serge working a few extra hours and putting Violet in a great daycare for a few hours a day? I know how expensive daycare is... But now that I am the stay-at-home parent I really really miss daycare and feeling happy to be together as a family at the end of the day and the week. Also, I feel completely inadequate to keep my wild toddler son occupied the way a perfectly-baby-proofed-and-super-toddler-friendly daycare room full of other toddlers and sweet people whose only job is to keep them clean, dry,fed and entertained all day. A stay-at-home doesn't simply get to focus on the child, it's all that other crap that goes with it that's so exhausting.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E

Oh god, do I ever hear you. When I leave the house, it's to spend a gabillion dollars on food for our family. Then I come home to a husband who thinks I have just had my free time. Um. No. And no, I have no hobbies, either. Yep, I just want to stay home, read, sleep, blog and, GASP, watch R-rated TV ALONE.

You, my friend, are obviously not alone. I keep thinking this will not clear up for us until our kids are older and more independent. Our youngest in three. I'm going to be waiting a while, I guess.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpixiemama

I hate this word but compromise may be in order. Say he can fish every other Sunday. On the home Sunday's you get to have family time or you can do your own thing for awhile. Be it watch crappy TV, nap, or shop alone. Hubby fishes every Sunday but only from 7-9 AM with his Dad. I get to sleep until he gets home. Some Sunday's he skips. But the advantage I have...He Dad lives on a lake only 15 minutes away. He has a very physically demanding job worksing 10-12 hour days whereas I have a mentally demanding job that is just 40 hours. He siad they weren't the same and I said I didn;t give a shittake what he thought. We both work hard so he is going to cut me some slack and out this damn socks in the hamper. (I had stopped picking clothes up to wash that weren't in the hamper)...It was tense for awhile. J is 6 now and was never a napper...So the sigh totally makes sense. Hang in there.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrsK

Yeah, my husband does this too...fishing for 10 hours. Really? I can't comprehend how that is even possible. This girl likes to shop, but hell, even I can't do that for 10 hours. Sleeping is the only thing I can do for 10 hours.... so... I think you were right on with "My hobby is sleeping, motherfucker" Brilliant.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Oh my god, you are SO not alone. I had the same conversation, exactly, with my husband when our daughter was little. He believed that he was entitled to go hiking every weekend. I begged for a compromise: half day maybe, then some "me" time and some family time. Finally, after years of frustration and resentment, we divorced. Now, he gets her 50% of the time and I get her 50% of the time and we both have our "me" time. Best damn decision I ever made. Not that I'm suggesting that for you, of course, but there MUST be a compromise or your resentment is just giong to explode all over him and the best waders in the world won't save him.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Are we living parallel lives? How come the same exact words are coming out of our husbands' mouths? Why are we having the exact same fights? Why do you and I have the exact same "hobbies"? Weird. But glad to know I'm not alone!

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLara K.

I can't believe you let her have one of your biscuits.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMjorie

HA! I know, right?

November 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

I think being gone for ten hours every Sunday, leaving a pregnant, full-time working wife home with a toddler is unreasonable and I don't mean to be harsh, but it's selfish! When he is fishing he is getting a 10 hour break from everything, including Violet and you. There is nothing wrong with needing a break, but IMO you should be afforded the same luxury whether you choose to sleep (which surely he must know you need lots more of being preggo), or otherwise use your time, "hobby" or not.

I hope you get this resolved before the second child comes along because it certainly will not be any easier trying to get him to stay home with a crying baby, a toddler AND a pissed off wife! What it all boils down to is...Is anyone's time more valuable than the other's? I've been in this fight many times with my husband when our children were younger (and still fight occasionally about it). I agree with the writer above who said just go ahead and drop off Violet for him to watch and do what you want. After all, he doesn't ask you to go fishing does, he? Give yourself the same benefits that he feels entitled to. Good luck and fight hard!

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Serge is home with Violet more than I am so there's no trouble getting him to be with Violet and I imagine it will be the same with the second baby. He's a great dad. And he begs me to fish with him, I'm just not into it. Plus he gets up early on Saturdays to let me sleep in.

Honestly, I'm feeling badly about this post because I may have portrayed him too harshly here and he really is a good guy. He just loves to fish and gets carried away when he's on the river. In his defense, Sunday is his only free time too.

November 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

I meant--he doesn't ask you permission to go fishing...

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Got it... Still, I feel shitty that I've shed him in a bad light here, you know?

November 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Of course he is a good guy... :) You are not portraying him too harshly. It's just one of those things that needs to get straightened out early on. My husband is a great father and husband too, but when the kids came along he still would do a "disappearing act" occasionally and I had to fight to get equal time.

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSue

You seem to be very supportive of Serge and appreciate that your guy loves his fishing. Of course he could come home earlier or trade off weekends but maybe there is another option.. He is encouraging you to find something you would enjoy doing. Doesn't have to be a 'hobby' but this might help. I believe you might benefit from hiring a reliable $5/ hour mother's helper/ baby-sitter every Sunday. 10-6 PM. Someone to take some of the burden off of you while you are trying to relax or get things done at home on Sunday. You could take her out with you when you go shopping. Worth the 40 bucks to feel less tired and resentful. You need the down time otherwise you would not have bothered to do this post. Win-win.

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergina

80 bucks would be better.

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergina

Monica, I wouldnt worry too much that you posted him in "a bad light" here. I think your candidness and real-ness is one of the things that your readers (including me!) appreciate. You never hesitate to tell us what a great dad he is, so I think that's the general perception of him that us readers have :)

You need your "you" time and I think you deserve it with how hard you work - as a mother and with your work. I agree with the poster a few above, maybe you guys could alternate every other Sunday?! In any case, I think your perspectives are spot-on with many of us readers. We adore you!

Okay, now that I've sounded stalker-ish, I suppose its time to end this comment :)

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Hey Hun

I hear you. It is so hard. I work days, Husband nights. I do the lion's share of the childcare. Husband has recently been getting home from the bar he manages at a reasonable time - midnight or so. But he will wind down watching crappy films until about 2am. Then lie in the next day (weekends included) until 11ish. By 10am I want to murder him. He used to work Saturdays too - and that sent us spinning to marriage guidance counselling!! I honestly get what another commenter said about her friend who is divorced - at least now she gets designated 'me' time. I am not surprised you go nuts after 10 hours alone with a kid. Especially after you work so hard all week.

In Victorian days families were raised by grandparents and aunts and uncles etc - like a tribe. Now- a-days we all move away from our families to go to college and then for jobs and we end up these tiny units trying to support and raise a family alone - expecting our partners to be everything. Men need their cave time - but so do we.

I reckon 10 hours is a l-o-n-g time to fish... Plus - am sure you crave some family time all together. Compromise is the key. Also - dunno about you - but are their any friends of yours with kids that you could hook up with so you all share child care responsibilities and have a coffee and a laugh into the bargain? I find adult company combined with childcare helps? the wee ones play and you get to chat/play with them too. Wish you lived near London...

As strange as this sounds - I find it so comforting to know that I am not alone in my weekly fights with hy husband over who is the most tired/does more/ etc. Take care. x

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

I meant 'there' above not their. Had to say that. Spelling mistakes make me crazy. Oh and 'my' not hy.

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

It is time for He Said on this blog!

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheKST

Pretty funny! We all have that same conversation/fight in one way or another. Most of ours happen during Bitch week for me!
Ava is sitting here with me watching Violet in the mud and says, "Mom, is that me?" No I say. "Mom who is that and does she want to get her shoes and pants in the mud?" Yes I say. " Does she want to get her hands and her face in the mud?" Maybe I say. "I wish that was me in that movie mom!" She says! It sucks to do a 10 hour shift but they are so damn funny sometimes!

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRis

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