My husband thinks he’s cornered the market on stress. Okay, he’s got a very demanding job; he works a lot of hours, he’s on call 24/7 and he does carry a lot of stress on his shoulders. But the other day I mentioned that I had more stress than usual and you’d have thought I’d said I got abducted by aliens.
“Stress?” he said. “What are YOU stressed about?” Seriously, that’s the way he said it.
I don’t know how two people who live in the same house, eat dinner together and sleep in the same bed can be so far apart in their understanding. I began to explain.
“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” I said. “I have a lot to do at work.” Work usually isn’t stressful. I am a freelance magazine writer and I looove my job. But this week, I had three stories due on the same day and I was having trouble getting interviews for one of them.
“I do everything that has to do with the kids,” I said. My oldest just started kindergarten and my youngest just started preschool. It’s my job to pack lunches; get them dressed, fed and to school; pick them up, read and respond to all of their school correspondence, pay tuition (even for public school) make sure they do any homework and that all appropriate art winds up on the refrigerator.
And then there’s their medical care. They’re both healthy, thank God and knock wood, but whenever they have to go to the doctor, I make the appointments, take them, pick up medications and take care of them. My husband does help with remembering to give them meds. I have brain damage (not at all kidding) and am not good at remembering. This week my daughter woke up coughing. She had the sniffles too but she felt okay. She begged to go to school, but I feared they’d send her home, so I kept her home all day. Whose workday did that affect? Mine.
“I’ve got everything with Dad’s house,” I said. Since my dad died, I’ve been doing the bulk of the work needed to administer his estate. In the past month or so, we’ve been trying to work with a buyer on his house. The home inspector found some issues and I’ve been working to get them resolved. This involves calls with the real estate agent, the estate lawyer, and various repair technicians who are 3,000 miles away.
In addition to the house stuff, it’s my job to pay Dad’s bills and keep records of those payments for the estate, open and manage a bank account, and field questions about the estate. My husband has been very good and taken some days off to talk to Dad’s financial institutions and I am grateful for that. But the bulk of the work falls on me.
“And the stuff with our house,” I said. We want to sell our house and move back East, so we’re doing all the repairs and cosmetic work now, and guess who’s in charge of getting estimates and hiring contractors? Yes, it’s me. So for the past three weeks, I’ve been meeting painters, coordinating contractors, getting and evaluating bids and setting up appointments for them to do work, when I’m home, working and everything else, in between kid drop-offs and pick-ups and all doctor appointments.
“And all the things I have to do with my headaches lately,” I mentioned. I have daily, severe migraines (See “A hill of beans“) and I have been working to get rid of them for almost two years now. I’ve tried several rounds of medications, lifestyle changes, and now acupuncture, which, if you’re interested, is the best treatment yet. But I see the acupuncturist twice a week for 90-minute sessions, which are kind of stressful to plan when I’ve got limited time with childcare, during which I have to work, do my Dad’s stuff before close of business in New York and interview and coordinate contractors on both coasts. And on days that I don’t see the acupuncturist, I go to the chiropractor for my headaches.
So then he said, “Ohhh, it’s your Daaad’s stuff.” Yeah, because nothing else that I listed, not even the combined effects of juggling all of that stuff at once while suffering from constant migraines, could possibly be stressful. Next time he complains about stress (and he’s a complainer) I’m gonna say, “Ohhh, it’s your commute!” How does this guy, who crashed my dad’s car in a parking lot because he had “too much going on,” not get it? Even when I lay it out for him. Honestly, he’s supposed to be my best friend, so he should know how I feel. But somehow, he doesn’t. Insanity isn’t always hereditary. You can get it from your spouse, too.