Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can't stay silent

Dear Ella,

I’m not sure how much longer I can stay quiet. My daughter is falling apart and I’m standing by watching helplessly.

Sandi and Allen seemed to have a healthy marriage. They both worked hard and had a good mix of independence and togetherness. It appeared to all that they had everything.

Throughout her pregnancy, Allen treated Sandi like a princess. She had a rough few months, and Allen ran around doing whatever she needed. Then Asher was born, and it was like Allen became a different person.

Sandi is up with the baby all night, and she does her best to clean the house, shop for groceries, do laundry, make meals, all while she is breastfeeding and caring for an often-screaming child. Allen comes home, puts his feet up, says he had a stressful day and asks, “What’s for dinner?”

I can see the physical and emotional toll this is taking on my daughter. She doesn’t complain, but last week she burst into tears and let it all out. Her husband was no longer being a partner. She felt like she was drowning in a sea of chores with no help.

I’ve always prided myself on not interfering in my children’s lives, but I’m worried about Sandi, and I can’t stay silent any longer. Any advice would be appreciated.

Time to Meddle

Dear Time to Meddle,

I’m not sure “meddle” is the right word. Perhaps “help” would be a better way to phrase it. Who better to help than someone who is doing it out of love and concern? But you have to be smart.

Sandi is probably exhausted and can’t think straight. She is caught up in a circle of chores and doesn’t have the time or energy to figure out how to fix this. This is where you come in.

Make a plan. Tell Sandi you want to have a talk with her. Tell her you will come over for the day and babysit with Asher while she sleeps, bathes and regroups. Once she’s refreshed, she’ll be more open to listen to suggestions.

Tell her your observations and give her some practical solutions. Allen doesn’t sound like a bad guy. He’s adjusting to a new life and unfamiliar emotions, too, but Sandi has given him the luxury of doing it in his own time.

Here are some suggestions for you to give to your daughter: 1. Get a housekeeper to clean once a week. With two incomes, that should be attainable. In between, learn to live in a messier house. 2. Make meals easier. Have sandwiches, eggs or cereal for dinner. If Allen wants beef stew, he can make it. 3. Give Allen a list of reasonable responsibilities. He can certainly do grocery shopping, take out the trash and take over a feeding or two in the evening. 4. Offer to babysit on occasion so Allen and Sandi can have a couple of hours to themselves. It will do wonders for them, and give them time to talk.

Allen has to realize that Sandi is not sitting home all day watching soap operas. Her job is just as hard as his is. Only she can show him the light. Bringing a new baby into a marriage is a huge adjustment on everyone’s part.

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