We had a bit of a meltdown last night.
I had been in that conference all last week and then, when I got back, there was a visiting writer here at TTU and, as a result, I had a bunch of extra obligations every evening this week (mostly dinner with the writer and attending her reading).
This would be all fine and dandy if I were still that childless MFAer I once was. But, no. I’m PhDer, with a baby, married to a woman who also has her own obligations, including that daddy of all stresses in the academic world: trying to start publishing so she can eventually get tenure.
It was a combination of all these factors that likely contributed to our collective meltdown last night–after Nico was safely to sleep, of course. Ostensibly the conflict began over the poopy diaper waiting to be cleaned in the bathroom and the fancy new “Willow Sprout Change Diaper Sprayer” that neither of us could figure out how to attach to our toilet bowel.
But it was also about the dirty house and the unwashed dishes and the bill we just got from our insurance saying it wouldn’t cover Nico’s most recent visit to the doctor (for that cough she can’t shake) even though we are paying a collective $1100 a month for our COBRA healthcare while waiting for the TTU healthcare to start in November.
But the poopy diaper sprayer seemed like the best culprit. Everything online said it needed only an easy installation. The instructions estimated about 15 minutes. After about a half an hour of turning off the water supply and emptying the bowl and screwing and unscrewing pipes that refused to fit together, however, Marta and I called it quits. We then began arguing about bills and freezable baby food containers and where to store the folded blanket for our bed.
Meanwhile the poopy diaper waited to be cleaned.
Which means, really, it is the cloth diaper movement that is to blame for last night’s marital strife. That together with the fact that Nico is just starting to eat some solid foods. We’ve given her avocado, banana, sweet potato and pear, all of which she has scarfed down either because she likes them or because she really likes to chew on the plastic spoon we serve them with.
But solid food means changes in stools. What was once a manageable amount of caca has suddenly become less manageable. Which is why we bought that seemingly handy poop sprayer. Some women online even boast that they use it as a bidet on the side.
These are also the type of women, I think, who also post long blogs about how, despite their full time jobs, they managed to sew a new halloween costume for their child, make a batch of breast milk yogurt and then cook a new recipe from this site for dinner.
Meanwhile Marta and I are happy if we remember to wash the cloth diapers in time to have enough clean ones to send with Nico to daycare.
Or if we remember to brush our teeth.
As I was cleaning one of Nico’s poopy diapers just now (using the “dunk method,” which I read that one woman at BabyCenter.com actually prefers over the sprayer, which, yes, she uses only as a bidet now) I had this sudden memory of a study someone once told me about. It was about happiness. And the study had found that couples who have children are less happy than those who don’t.
As I cleaned the diaper (a process that requires dunking it again and again in a tub of water until all the chunks of poop come loose in the water and you then flush them down the toilet) I realized that this study was very likely correct. I do not think that having children necessarily makes you happier.
But it does make you something. Something very important. That I don’t yet have the word for because I am so tired. So very tired.
That something, whatever it is, is not bad. And I wouldn’t give back Nico for all the happiness in China. But I think we are fooling ourselves when we say that that something, whatever the hell it is, is happiness. Because I have a poopy diaper and a grumpy wife to prove to you–at least some of the time–that it’s not.