Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Post Where I Coin The Phrase "Mother Of All Time-Suckers."

Rigel is out tonight, holed up in a studio somewhere with his bandmates putting the finishing touches on their demo. They got a great response to their two shows last year at B.B Kings Blues Club and decided to record some of their songs. Mostly they're just doing it for themselves and maybe to send out to clubs to get more bookings, although let's face it - it's all starting to sound like they're one step closer to spandex jumpsuits, permed hair and hotel rooms filled with underage groupies.

I'm a hundred-percent behind his double life as a rock star as he is behind me and all of my hobbies, including the time-sucking one that is writing. I have another project in the works that I can't mention for fear of jinxing it, but if it happens will be prove to be the mother of all time-suckers, and he's voiced his support for that as well. I feel pretty fortunate that we have a marriage where we can give each other the space to pursue other interests, although we reserve the right to put our foot down if it gets out of hand. For instance, he can erase my Blogger account if he finds out I've locked the kids in the garage so that I can finish writing a post, and I get to drive over his guitar with the van if he starts using a fake British accent or decides that he'd like to snort the ashes of a deceased loved one.

But we have our detractors, those that don't entirely approve of our seemingly divergent lifestyles. It may be as subtle as the "You sure get out of the house alot" when Rigel mentions his band, or the raised eyebrow I got from the friend who saw me alone at Borders on a Saturday afternoon while she was busily herding her kids into storytime. And then there's this comment from another mom, "That's why I love my kids being in soccer. We spend time together. As a family." She said those last words almost as a reprimand, as if to say, "You and your hobbies. What's next? Going on tour and leaving the kids with a stack of Lunchables and your ATM card?"

I find myself having to defend our actions, pointing out that most of our time spent on personal pursuits are when the kids are at school or asleep, and emphasizing how much time we actually do spend together as a family. I feel pressured to whip out appointment calendars with highlighted dates showing that weekend we spent in Yosemite and trips to the beach and the museum. Soon I'm sure I'll be forced to show receipts from amusement parks, movie ticket stubs and testimonial notes from waiters saying things like, "Dined together as a family of four. Looked very happy."

We're fine with the fact that our outside interests aren't the same and that it means we spend some of our free time apart from each other. I'm certainly not ruling out ever having a shared hobby or pursing the same activity - it's just that for some reason I could never see Rigel and I spending an afternoon antiquing together, or high-fiving each other during a heated game of bridge. Aside from reading my work he understands that writing is a solitary pursuit, and unless I learn to play a killer tambourine or they need a kazoo solo I certainly won't be joining his band anytime soon. I guess there's always bird watching together someday, while our teeth are soaking in a glass and we're waiting for the grandkids to come and take us to Denny's for the Senior Slam.

But we shouldn't have to defend ourselves. Because we're joined as a couple does that also mean we're joined at the hip? Is one of us supposed to suppress our passion for a particular pursuit to appease the other? I don't think so. I've always felt that part of a successful relationship is allowing the other person to be who they are and to encourage the other to pursue those things that make them happy while still being faithful to the marriage and the family. And I'm not just saying this because I read it on that Dr. Phil book cover while I was waiting in line at the supermarket today.

So to those who may judge us and think we're too self-involved, or mistakenly assume that we don't spend enough time together or with our kids, or tsk-tsk because we won't join you in attending the Pasta For Lovers cooking class at the Y, I have this to say:

Get a life! Preferably, your own.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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  1. Good god, some people really have nothing to worry about, do they? When I married my dh, I didn't agree to completely subsume my personality into his! Of course you will spend time doing things that the other one isn't interested in. It's the people who don't seem like they have any separate interests that I worry about. Maybe you should start requiring them to pull out one movie stub (saw a movie he didn't want to see! by myself!) or waiter testimonials (she took the kids to a restaurant! without her husband!).

  2. "What's next? Going on tour and leaving the kids with a stack of Lunchables and your ATM card?"

    No, real moms leave cash.

  3. All those tsk-tsk'ers will probably be finding out the meaning of irreconcilable differences, all too soon.

    My husband and I have some things in common, but holy shit, we have some differences too. Take his love of bonsais and chess.

    You will never find me sitting by his side trying to bend a juniper to his will, and that's the way it should be. Those separate things keep us sane.

    (Oh, and thanks for sending us to the Moobz post. I was beautiful...)

  4. I totally agree, SM. The way I look at it is, I had a life separate of my husband's when I met him and although we merged our two lives, we still have our own hobbies and interests that are separate. And I think that's healthy.

  5. I was married to one of those guys who thought we should be together all the time and not have any separate interests. I'm not married to him anymore.

    We (current husband and I) have tried several things together. We've been rock climbing, serious mountain bikers and now we're doing martial arts. It's nice to have one activity you can do together (aside from the obvious). Our son takes classes too, so this is our one truly family hobby. But he does other things, and I do other things and we are very happy together.

    I think that if each person in a family is allowed to be their best self you have a happy family unit.

    Sounds like you have it all worked out.

  6. a) I would never leave my ATM card with my kids. They would have a freezer of frozen bean burritos and $100 cash tops.

    b) Keith Richards, most disturbing link of the day.

    c) Really? People make comments because you haven't forgotten you are still humans, not just parents? They are jealous. And when there kids leave home they will scurry from art class to wood working to yoga trying to find something with meaning because they sacrificed so much of themselves for 18 or more years.

    d)Always agreeing with each other, always being together, always sharing the same interests sounds boring. I will never love Tiger baseball (though I will cheer during the world series) and Bert will never love shoes and Cosmopolitans (though he will gasp at the VISA bill and slice my limes).

  7. You mean a stack of lunchables and the ATM isn't acceptable? Crap.

    Just kidding. We actually eat together as a family (or at least me and all the kids together if dh is working the closing schedule) every night. We do more together as a family than I do alone since well, uh, do I do anything alone? Hmmm.

    But dh and I were talking about 2 months ago and realized we have no hobbies or activities that we do 'together' because we have very different interests.

    I don't like working out, playing guitar or watching movies. He doesn't like reading, sewing, travelling or cooking.

    Neither of us like jogging, shopping or golf.

    If this is the only measurement of success - How in the world have we been together 21 years already?

  8. The nay-sayers (is that even a word? it is now!) are jealous. Plain and simple. They spend all sorts of "family time" outside the house but within their own four walls they probably hardly speak to each other.

  9. Fuck the haters, that's what I say. If I couldn't spend occasional time by myself and pursue my most cherished "me-only" passtimes, I really don't think I could be a mom. I love my kid, and love to spend time with him, and with him and my man, but sanity dictates that I have my own life too. And if my man didn't have his own life, I don't think I could respect him.

    Luckily, when it comes time to rock, we do spend time as a family. So now that Kira and Kiyomi are getting their chops down, maybe it's time for you to buy some hot pink spandex pants and work on those keyboard licks.

  10. Right on. My wife and I have been happily together for 18 years- we met when we were 19. We basically see each other a couple of nights during the week and on weekends, and we really enjoy our time together. And, having played in a bunch of bands, I will say that most of the potential groupies I was pining for at age 15 don't look quite the same in spandex now, for the same reason I don't look quite as sexy in no shirt. Spandex gets, well, a little jiggly.

  11. You have to have "me" time. My husband married me for me, not for someone that could morph into his twin. Besides, if I don't take time here or there to do my hobbies then I find that I am crankier and not always the nicest person to hang around. If that's the case, then what good am I to my kids and my hubsters.

  12. you know you can always apologize to them...

    "I am so sorry that you cannot organize your schedule so that you do have free time"

    "My apologies, I was not aware you dislike cultivating personal interests"

    "It is so gratifying to hear that you so cherish time with your family/children, please do not let me intrude that time..."

    have fun!!

  13. LOL dennis! too funny. the hubby and i have very different interests & we are going on 13 years together. separate interests work for us b/c we have something to talk about at the end of the day. i couldn't imagine spending every waking moment together, nor would HE want to. as long as you can make each other laugh when you DO spend time together and you're both on the same page about how much time that ends up being, i say kudos to you. life's too short to deny yourself until your kids are 18. happy individuals will always be better parents.

  14. I feel you SM. Like many of your other commenters my husband and I do not share many similar interest. And we like it that way. He does not feel guilty going off for 5 hours to play golf. And I do not feel guilty when it's my turn to take off to the bookstore, or fabric store.

    There is alot to be said for spending time alone.

  15. I hear you! My sister, who golfs, gardens and basically spends every waking moment with her husband can never understand why my husband and I often go our separate ways on weekends. He'll tinker in the garage while I take off for the knitting store. We're happy this way.

  16. I love your writing. Never fails to crack me up. And if you ask me, you & your family sound pretty well-balanced & healthy. And now, I must catch up on your blogging. I just caught a whiff of Trout Lady and must investigate...

  17. In my opinion, you guys got it right!

    You NEED to have separate hobbies; without one may feel as though they are suppressed and then feelings of resentment surface. Having something that you enjoy alone is more then healthy for a relationship.

    God on ya!

  18. Well...Amen. Nothing wrong with diverse interests.

  19. My husband keeps worrying that we WILL grow apart. I ask, "do you feel disconnected from me right now?" and the answer is always no, but he wrings his hands and insists that we get a joint hobby. ???

  20. All taht matters is your are happy together and your kids are happy! Skrew them all! Each family and couple works differently. They areprobably jealous!

  21. OK, that Keith Richards thing freaked me out. I sure hope it's a joke....ick!
    Anyway, I think you have the right idea. My husband and I spend plenty of family time together but we also pursue our own interests. I mean gee, if we were together 24/7, I just might kill them all (joke, of course...heheheh...)That is why your marriage will survive.

  22. Amen. People need to butt out. I need my own things, just as I need time to myself. Ditto for my husband.

  23. Oh good lord, thank you. My husband is also a musician and he plays regularly in a bar, and also goes to his friend's house to work on music several evenings per week (they can't do it here because we're in an apartment). Some of our friends - always the wives - are routinely shocked that this doesn't bug me. They don't understand that this time at home in the evening gives me a chance to do MY thing which, like you, involves writing. (Or watching tv shows he hates.)

    Whar especially gets me is the number of husbands who are shocked that he doesn't have to ask my "permission" to do something. Sheesh.

  24. SPM, we are EXACTLY the same. My husband can go see movies a couple of times a week and me? Well, let's just say you'll have to strap me down to watch anything longer than 30 mins.

    We get along so well because we allow ourselves our freedom. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  25. amen, friend. i have no energy for other people's criticisms..if it works for you, then it works. what works for me, works. otherwise we'd do it differently.

    easy peasy.

  26. Wow, this totally hit home. While we spend a lot of time together because we're both home a lot during the day, Nate and I totally have our own social lives. I've never once balked when he says he's going out to a comedy show or to play a game of golf - or even to spend the weekend out of town with friends. The same way he wouldn't for me.

    Isn't part of what keeps marriages strong having your own identity within the relationship? In whatever that works for you, of course.

    Blech. People suck, don't they.

  27. Do I hate sanctimommies and their ilk. People, we don't all have to live the same kind of life.

    You and Rigel obviously have wonderfully well adjusted children, and are fabulous and happy people in your own right. Honestly? Any nay-sayers are probably jealous.

  28. YEAY! Amen sister.

    There's nothing wrong with hobbies and a little time without the kids.

    Nothing at all. And good luck on the project you will hopefully get!

  29. I can't stand the haters! People who aren't happy and need to rain on everyone else's way of living life. I think it's great that you're teaching your kids (BY EXAMPLE) to follow their individual passions. And that woman in Borders was simply jealous that she wasn't getting to do what you were doing. Good for you for carving a little time out for yourself.

  30. Such snarky comments are most definitely fueled by jealousy.

    For so many, a "relationship" entails subjugating one's own interests, which is sooooooo the wrong way to go. Nurture those interests, and then you've got more to bring back to the relationship, for chrissakes.

  31. When I first started to go out with P we tried to find shared interests. She made me take up LAcrosse and then clubbed me to the ground with her Lacrosse stick when she felt I had blocked her too enthusiastically. I got her to try Croquet which she declared was "the most boring thing on earth".

    We have learned that being married is not about becoming identical. She rides her horse - I watch Chelsea play football. We are both happy.

  32. Hey, you both have lives and sounds like you're both enjoying them together, what more is there?

  33. Lemmings. What do they know about anything, eh?

  34. By the same token, noone should criticise couples who do have stuff they enjoy doing together. A mix of both isn't such a bad thing..
    There are so many ways a relationship can work - and none is the 'right' one - it's just whatever is right for you...

  35. sweet jesus -- if i spent every waking moment with my bf i would be stuck looking at world maps from 1000 B.C. and going on jogs. . .

    thank god he's happy to do that alone and allows me to indulge my hobbies of eating popcorn watching american idol and looking at gossip blogs.

    people need to relax.

    you've got a good think going.


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