What you wanted

“It’s what you wanted.”

Four words. So many possible meanings.

It was the end of the day, I was tired and on the edge of cranky, trying to manage six different things at the same time (pour juice, head off simmering battles between the kids before they erupt, answer Gimli’s question, keep an eye on the clock, listen to Oz’s chatter for discernable words, ignore my headache). I made some comment about what a juggling act it all was, or how glad I was that Monday was coming along with the nanny, or looking forward to the day they’d both be sleeping until noon on weekends, and he said “it’s what you wanted.”

I admit that I flew off the handle a little bit, albeit silently. “It’s what you wanted.” What, exactly, was that supposed to mean?

Try it – say the phrase out loud, at least four different ways.

1. It’s what YOU wanted. Don’t blame ME for this state of affairs, for your fatigue, for your inability to multi-task, for your constant angst about whether you’re doing them irrevocable damage or building them up into whole human beings. It’s what YOU wanted. You pushed for this, you made it happen, I’m an innocent bystander along for the ride. So don’t expect me to do much more than just stand by.

2. (Mocking) It’s what you WANTED. Ha! Look at you now! Be careful what you wish for and all that. You wanted this, and I delight in your misery now that you have it.

3. (Puzzled) It’s what you wanted, isn’t it? Didn’t you ask for this when we threw out the birth control, when we hammered at the inconceivability for 32 months, when we ran the gamut of tests, when you ingested the artificial hormones, when I drove 6 hours with a cold can of Coke on my lap? Didn’t we do all that so you could be a SAHM? Oh, that wasn’t what you wanted?

4. (Quiet delight) It’s what you wanted. Look at this. Look at them. Look how wonderful, how cute, how small and full of life and astonishingly fast at learning things they are. We wanted this for so long, and here it is. Here they are. It’s what you wanted, and now you have it. Bask in the amazing wonder of that truth. Let the other things fade into the background. Look at your beautiful children. Be glad, and be thankful.

He claims that option #4 is the one he meant. All I could hear was 1-3. Sometimes the voices in my head are so loud I can’t hear the ones that come from actual other people.

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12 Responses to “What you wanted”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Our own prejudices tend to influences what we hear and think. I wonder if women who struggle to have a family think they aren’t really allowed to complain when things aren’t perfect? I bet if he had said the same thing at a different time of day you would have heard it in the tone of #4.

    I saw a quote a few months ago, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” If you ask me how my day was between 4pm-6pm, I always have trouble remembering anything good. That is the time of day I struggle, everyone is on edge, supper needs to be prepared, I’m counting the minutes for M to get home and help, etc. We may have had an awesome day but it is clouded by the frenzy of that time of day.

  2. Tarable Says:

    Oh my, I would be analyzing this one for weeks! And because I apparently think the same way as you, would be SURE that it was 1, 2, or 3 OR ALL of them (except 4). I would drag it out and rehash it in my head a zillion times.

    I’m so with you here. I need clear, kind, straight forward support or I go to pieces in my head.

  3. tara Says:

    huh, I was just thinking something along these lines. On the way back from the dr’s office, I was listening to Chris Rock on Fresh Air. He was saying how talking about sacrifice in relation to your kids is wrong because it implies there’s something else you want instead. He said that he never feels that way about his kids.
    It was touching and then I began to wonder what was wrong with me because often when I’m home with both kids, trying to manage too many things at once and everything is sliding sideways, I WISH to be elsewhere… very much so.
    But I think it’s like Rachel said- there are times when I can’t say anything good about what’s happening.
    But as messy as it is, It IS what I wanted and still do. Wouldn’t want the big picture to be otherwise even is some of the piddly details suck.

  4. Serenity Says:

    I would think it was 1 -3, mostly because of the use of the word “you.” That puts me immediately on the defensive, a “it’s what we wanted” would make me feel a whole lot less alone in the juggling.

    Hang in there.

    xoxo

    • Elizabeth Says:

      Yes, yes, yes! I didn’t think about that before, but revising it to “it’s what WE wanted” (even without the emphasis) completely changes how it comes across…

  5. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I am so much with Rachel on this one. We paint meanings to words because the same stuff means so much different and varied to us.

    Sorry for the tangent in the communication. And I am in the middle of something akin to that…

  6. jjiraffe Says:

    Oh, this post really resonated with me. Because right now I am working so hard on really inhabiting the number 4 answer. But a question like that really could be interpreted many different ways…

  7. KeAnne Says:

    Oh wow. This is really profound. I’d probably hear 1-3, want it to be 4 (for both him and me) and then feel guilty about everything as always.

  8. Lori Lavender Luz Says:

    My own judgment of myself would probably come into play as to which of the interpretations I choose.

    Very thought-provoking!

  9. Mud Hut Mama Says:

    What a great post! Thank you for your comment on my blog which has led me to yours. My husband says this to me often and I know he means it as a joke but it still infuriates me. Yes it’s what I wanted and I’m so thankful that I have it, but that doesn’t make it easy.

  10. Mia Says:

    I am still in the beginning stages of my infertility treatment, but I have often wondered if these kind of comments would happen some time down the road. I can definitely see how upset it would make me, and I think I will talk to my husband about this issue now before anything ever arises. Just because we become parents through infertility treatment doesn’t disqualify us from blowing off steam like any other parent does. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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