Coping with the new operating parameters of my life

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgThis post is for Scientiae's call to share what we did on our summer vacation. I've been fairly silent about my personal life the last few months, But I was hugely encouraged by all the wonderful comments that so many of you made in the getting to know you post a few weeks back, when you said that you were sticking around because you were interested in my story and want to hear how everything turns out for me. So I am feeling brave enough (or foolish enough) to let you have a bit of peek into what's going on in my life outside of the professional sphere.

I'm not really sure how to right this in a coherent narrative, so y'all are just going to get bullet points.

  • In mid-May my spouse was fired for negligence of job duties.
  • My spouse is still unemployed. He is either unable or unwilling to find work. Most weeks he is not even collecting unemployment.
  • In mid-June, the out-of-state DUI my spouse got in the winter resulted in a 1-year suspension of his Mystery State drivers license.
  • In July, despite no job and no driving privileges, my spouse decided that he wasn't willing to stay in Midwest with Minnow and I while I did field work and attended a workshop. Instead he went home to Mystery City.
  • Two weeks ago he got limited driving privileges reinstated. He can now drive to and from work and for "necessary household maintenance" during limited days/hours.
  • My spouse is unwilling or unable to care for Minnow even on a part-time basis.
  • During the summer, I cut my working hours (and we traveled a lot) so Minnow wasn't in daycare all of the time. But now that school is back in session, Minnow is in daycare 9 hours a day so that I can work a slim 8 hours per day.
  • Most of the time, Minnow loves her daycare.
  • Most of the time, I love my job.
  • We have a negative cash-flow problem and are rapidly depleting our communal savings.
  • Minnow still does not sleep through the night. We are lucky to get 3 hours at a stretch from her, 1x per night. We've tried everything. Yes, even crying it out. No, there's no apparent medical reason.
  • The latest round of sleep training involves my spouse doing most night-time care, but me nursing around midnight when I go to bed and then around 4 am when spouse gives up in exhaustion.
  • I'm exhausted all the time.
  • I don't drink coffee.
  • During the day, while I'm at work and Minnow is at daycare, Spouse spends much of his time sleeping, playing video games, watching tv, and trolling the same few websites for jobs.
  • Spouse is now cooking dinner for us.
  • I do 95% of the rest of the housework (i.e., all of it except when he occasionally does something manly like mow the lawn).
  • Our house is such a disaster I daren't allow neighbors in.
  • I do >70% of the care for Minnow while she is awake and we are at home. This includes all day on weekends. Sometimes Spouse will participate in family activities.
  • Spouse does his fair share of poopy diaper changing and sunscreen application.
  • I treasure my time with Minnow. I wish I had more of it.
  • Above bullet points have, needless to say, put a lot of stress on an already fragile marriage.
  • We were in couples counseling this spring, but my spouse now says that he doesn't see the point in it. He doesn't think we need it.
  • No conversation we've ever had has effected any long term (>2 week) change in his behavior.
  • I don't see any measurable (action-oriented) benefits of his antidepressants, though he may be slightly happier.
  • I've taken to avoiding my long-distance friends. I don't have any (time for) local ones except a few moms in the cul-de-sac.
  • I dread questions from friends, family, strangers about my spouse. "So, what does your husband do?"
  • I need to figure out what I want and how to cope with/adjust to the current operating parameters of my life.
  • I have an appointment with a new therapist in just over a week.
  • I've had to wait more than a month to see her.
  • I hope she's good.

I'm not telling you this because I want your advice or your pity. I'm telling you this because I consider many of you friends. And because I believe that the only way we can destigmatize things is by being more open about them and acknowledging how common they are. I'm telling you this because I'm tired of keeping it all bottled up, and for better or for worse, this is my outlet. I'm telling you this because if I'm going to blog at all about my life (which was an original purpose of the blog), you're going to need some context.

Spouse - if you read this, I'm sorry for spilling our troubles out onto the internet. Go ahead and resent me for it.
Minnow - if you read this, know that your Mommy loves you more than anything in the whole wide world. She hopes you won't be too embarrassed by her blog when you grow up. I swear that all the cool moms were doing it back in the day.

More like this

I read your blog regularly and really value the insights. Good on you for being open. I hope things improve for you soon!

I don't want to give you advice. I don't have any. I just want to give you a virtual hug. May the fall bring good news. May your problems be solved. And most importantly, keep enjoying your work and the precious time with Minnow. Your strength is wonderful.

Long-time lurker, delurking to give you a virtual hug.

By drivebyhugger (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

Oh, this just breaks my heart to hear because it makes your life so much more difficult. I'm not pitying only very sympa- and empathetic (I get worse as I get older...). Tenure track is hard enough even without the extra troubles. I hope you'll have the strenght to struggle through without burning out.

Here's another virtual hug.

And I love this:

I swear that all the cool moms were doing it back in the day.

And when she's old enough to read it, "back in the day" will be so 2008. :D

oh geez SW, big hugs. you trigger all the useless male big brother type responses- wanna solve problem! wanna smash bad guys! FIX!

except Hulk responses don't help, I know, I know....

Hulk feel helpless....

By DrugMonkey (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

I had recently wondered why you were always taking Minnow into the field with you. My thought was your husband should be stepping up and watching her so that you could get some work done. That said, I'm glad you shared because I think that there are many science moms out here who can understand what you are going through and may even be in or have been in similar situations. When I took my current position, my husband had just dropped out of graduate school. We have two mortgages and two second mortgages on on two houses - one we live in and one that we were trying to sell but now have to rent at a loss. Husband had no idea what he was going to do for employment, was depressed, and spent most of his days surfing the Internet while I went to work and dropped both boys (4month old and 3 year old) off at daycare. I nursed the baby so I also had to leave work to nurse. I just never made time for pumping and the daycare is close by. Husband is a recovering alcoholic who I am constantly worried will fall off the wagon again. He's been in jail for DUI and had his license stripped - of course they eventually give that back to you and he has had his while we've lived here, but I'm sure you can understand the stress issues and I can relate to your concerns about DUIs. We fought alot. I slept very little. I work as quickly and as efficiently as I possibly can because I can't work weekends and I can't work evenings. Somehow I managed to get 2 grants last year and am working on 2 different research projects this year. Husband got a job finally and even earned employee of the month his 3rd month on the job. We have survived. But, I was talking with a co-worker the other day. It doesn't matter who has the more high profile job or who is busier or who is more important. In a marriage with children, the woman carries most of the burden for the child rearing and home making. I read it in a study somewhere, and my expriences have been in agreement. I really hope things start looking better for you soon.
happay - also stuck in the midwest

Your honesty is truly inspirational in proving how much each and everyone of us is capable of accomplishing -- while I am sure it does not seem like it from your end, your ability to still manage to balance a career and practically run a household almost single-handedly is awe-inspiring.

First, Thank You for posting all this. They say "misery loves company"; I think it's more like "feeling isolated and like you're the only one who struggles makes you more miserable".
Second, *HUGS*.

Third, I am attempting to squelch my urge to offer advice, and only partially succeeding. So you can ignore this if you want.
Your bullet points made me think. Is this what is was like for my Mother? It ususally didn't seem like it to me but...
*My father stayed at home. The reasons were complicated.
*I still spent a goodly amount of time in daycare.
*He cooked, and got pretty good at it.
*He didn't clean. Our solution was to have a shockingly messy house. I can see why that doesn't work for others.
*"He's a house-husband" is a perfectly legtimate answer to "What does your spouse do?" (so is "He is in X field, although he's looking for a new position. Do you know of any openings?")

Aside from that-
*If I were your neighbor, I would be thrilled to visit you. I know your awesomeness would make visiting so enjoyable no mess would deter me.
*On finding the new therapist: good for you! You should feel proud for being proactive in taking care of yourself. I hope she's good too!

Finally, I can tell this isn't the life you envisoned. I hope you can make all the changes you want. You deserve happiness. However, I know it is possible to "loose some of those battles" and have things Turn Out OK. And I know Minnow will love you just the same, now matter how this stuff gets resolved.

*HUGS* again.

Oh, man. That's a lot of tough stuff. May I just say that--hard though it may be to believe--*sometimes* the spouse that has sunk so completely into depression/alcohol/what-have-you *can* turn around. Sometimes. But while you're in the midst of things, it's miserable and horrible and you feel so damned alone.

Big hugs. I hope he gets his shit together. If not, you need to do what is best for you and Minnow.

I haven't been there with a kid, and a tenure-track job, but enough of that story sounds vaguely familiar that I wanted to comment. Best of luck and kudos for the great job I know you're doing with everything.

I know you don't want pity, but you certainly need a virtual hug. I'm sure this isn't how you envisioned your life and thank you for your honesty.

It is also a good reality check for me as DH and I try to negotiate our latest work arrangement with a 10 month old. I agree with the commenter that the woman still will do more of the childcare (and often more of the housework) even when she is the primary wage earner. Everything I've read says this is the case and it is tough to work this out in a marriage any which way you go about it. I'm feeling frustrated and nervous about not being able to get my needs and academic obligations met. I am unsure about how much care I need, how much we can afford, how much I am comfortable with, etc. BUT, I am so thankful to have a partner that comes home and literally takes the baby out of the house for at least half the evening so I can have a break. I don't know how you do it all.

That sucks, Sciencewoman. I agree that it was brave of you to share, and I'm glad you did because just like sharing the troubles we have with being scientists, sharing something like this can help others see that they aren't alone or to blame for what happens. That's a major reason you blog, right?

I had wondered why your posts had become less personal in the last 6 months-year and attributed it to your move to ScienceBlogs, but now I understand. I sure hope things get better for you. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. We're always here to listen. Add my hug to the rest.

Wow - maybe you need to be called SuperSciencewoman. I know you're not looking for pity or sympathy. Just know that there are those of us that marvel at the fact that you can continue to be productive at work as well as being there 100% for Minnow ... and your spouse, even though he isn't in the frame of mind to appreciate how difficult the situation is for you.

Hang in there.

SW, one comment. Both my [adorable darling] children did not sleep for any appreciable period of time at night (i.e., > 4 hours) until they were 18 months. For no reason that we could figure out. We tried CIO, no-cry sleep solution, family bed, not family bed, mom-at-night, dad-at-night, etc etc. The only thing that worked was them getting older.

I wish I had a magic solution. I don't. But I can emphasize. I was so foggy-brained and just friggin' TIRED All The Time. Eventually they slept and we were all so much better off for it. So I'm sending you 'sleep soon' wishes and lots and lots of aloha.

You know that the first thought crossing my mind while reading this post was : YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR.

Tough situation, and I empathize with the directionless spouse. Mine followed me to the new t-t job and has taken a lot of time to find focus and adjust to a shift in family responsibilities. We have seen a similar cash flow reversal as spouse finds his footing.

Thinking of you.

By New -ology mommyprof (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

I'm just going to offer a *little* advice, but it's tenure-track kind of stuff (so I kind of feel like it's my duty as one who made it to the other side), and I won't be at all offended if you ignore it.

This would be a very good time to find out if your university has a Work-Life Office (or something of that ilk ... whatever office has the lists of daycare openings is probably the right place to start asking). See what they offer in terms of workshops/brown-bag lunches that touch on marital turmoil and childrearing challenges during the tenure track. More than the workshop offerings, see if you can get plugged into who is at your university who has traversed some of the same ground and survived it. Find these women and tell them you need them to mentor you.

In a lot of ways, having this sort of mentor could make an important difference. You'll have someone nearby to check in with ... who will be making an effort to check in with you. You can get practical ideas for how to deal with what look like insurmountable problems, and you'll be getting them from someone who can also help you keep your eye on the crucial tenure-track things (with rather a better sense of perspective than someone on the tenure-chase could have). You'll likely be cultivating professional friends outside of your department, which is good for perspective even when everything is calm on the homefront.

Big hugs from Casa Free-Ride (which is, at the moment, very untidy ... but I've made my peace with it).

Damn. I really hate to hear that you've been dealing with all of this. Even my non-touchy self thinks you more than deserve a hug today, as well as a round of applause for holding yourself together when it would have been much easier to just fall apart. Lots of good vibes to you, dear, and here's hoping you come out on the other side soon.

I.. um.. sigh... Some of this seems pretty familiar... thanks for blogging it. I'm sending a hug, too, and one for minnow and the spouse.

By Christina (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

(Not posting my name, and I lurk here anyway.)

I just want to say how impressed I am that you're sharing all of this! I was in a similar situation until about a year ago -- DH had depression/bipolar and was home all the time, yet I was still doing all the childcare and housework AND taking care of him (particularly on days he couldn't get out of bed!). The good news for me is that I was working from home (because I'm in the middle of my dissertation) and he had disability insurance (because my $30,000 stipend would not have been enough). Also, I managed to do enough work that my advisor didn't kill me.

My husband finally got a job about 10 months ago. While I miss having him around, I love that he is able to be a productive member of society. It took some work -- a few different psychiatric diagonses, a variety of medications (he currently takes three psych drugs, and he went through at least 3 others), and the kick-in-the-pants of knowing the end of COBRA was near. So, I wish you a lot of luck, and I hope you and your husband can figure out what is happening with him so you can get your life back to normal.

By Anonymous for Now (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

I agree with the above comment of Rockstar. I can only wish you good luck through these 0s and 1s and I think seeking therapy is a very Good Thing.

I admit that I don't know anything about babies so I can only approach this scientifically but I thought I remember Minnow having some food allergy issues? Could that be related to the sleeping problem?

I'm so so sorry to hear that it hasn't gotten better. And where the hell have I been? Very sorry about that too.

An officemate and I have been going through some similar problems over the past year. Neither of us have children, but it's been trying nonetheless. We've both had financial problems due to unemployed husband/boyfriends and both of us have lost productivity in the mean time.

I have managed to pull it back together over the past two months, in no small part because my boyfriend got far enough out of depression to find employment. I have not blogged much about this--I've barely talked about it. The only time was when I completely collapsed from the strain and went to see a counselor. The collapse was brief, but I'm still feeling the residual effects of the whole experience.

Unfortunately, my officemate has not been so lucky. Her problems continue, though I don't know the extent because she also does not talk much about it unless asked.

While I sincerely wish that you didn't have to endure this, it is nice to know that my officemate and I are not alone.

I'm mostly a lurker, so I don't have a good solid identity here, but I empathize with a lot of what you're going through. I've had a lot of the same issues too. Might not help much to know, but it's not just you. There ought to be a support group for academic women who have currently non-working spouses.

It's sad how women are still facing all these work-life challenges with no support.

Hang in there kid. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

And at some point, when you can't stand it any more, you can change your life.


By first time to … (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

Oh SW, I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. The tenure-track is hard enough without the added stress you have and I hope that things work out for you in the long run. Sending more hugs.

I had absolutely no idea that all of this was going on. My god, SW. I am so, so, sorry. I wish that there was something that I could do to help you in some way. Know that I'm thinking of you and sending you and Minnow lots of positive energy.

Another virtual hug SW - I feel your pain. I am one of those people who always want to give advice. I will just say - some babies just can't get the hang of sleeping through the night. I won't say how long it took my second to start doing that but I just accepted it and co-slept with him a lot (I actually learned to nurse him in my sleep). Of course I was a single parent by then and had lots of room in my bed. You have a lot to deal with - try to look after yourself - it is good you going to see a therapist yourself - it will help.

So sorry to hear of your extra stresses. I can't imagine how hard it has been and you are amazing for dealing with everything at once. Thank you so much for your honesty.
Sending you my best thoughts and yet another hug!

Sciencewoman, you are amazing. I am a big-time lurker and I have to say that I was beginning to wonder where your spouse was every weekend while you were trying to juggle your baby and fieldwork. Now that I know, I am completely impressed with your coping abilities and your honesty. Your story has meant a *great deal* to me, so thank you for sharing it.

Hi, I'm delurking too. I really like your blog and like others am interested in your story and how you manage tenure track with a young child. So sorry to hear things aren't great at the moment. Really hope things get better soon. Best wishes, I'll be thinking of you.

This left me awed at your bravery and honesty. Reading through the comments only increased that feeling. I think that such openness about what you've achieved in addition to a challenging marital year and a wonderful daughter I know you adore - and doing it all far away from much of your support system - is just amazing. Though I'm so very sorry you had to do it, I'm so proud of you - for continuing to move forward through difficulties and for offering a space where people feel comfortable sharing their own struggles. Many hugs and much love to you, ScienceWoman.

Regular reader de-lurking. That royally sucks. Big, big virtual hugs.

I want to add my sympathy and great admiration as well. What you are doing (being a mom and Sciencewoman) is extraordinarily important. I hope you get support and also give yourself a break about the unimportant things (housecleaning..).

Hang in there! I second everything FSP just said. It sounds like you are doing a great job. You just keep working on these issues, trying new things when the old things aren't working, and not giving up! I hope I won't ever have to deal with as many things (at one time) as you are dealing with right now, but if I do, I hope I'll be as strong as you are!

Many of us have been there (including us males). I knew your situation was way more than mother, women, scientist. It always seemed to be SINGLE mother. and I know that being a single parent in practice is very hard when you are in fact really married. The stresses get almost easier when you truly are on your own.

By anonymous (not verified) on 30 Aug 2008 #permalink

PS. I did not mean to suggest that you should end relationships. In fact, i am now looking at 25 years married and making full prof. but in the process, I had to learn to just live as "single dad" for many years as wife healed. it was (is) a long process even in the best cases. Keep strong. keep moving and just keep doing.

By anonymous (not verified) on 30 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't really know what to say, except that I really hope that these dark clouds pass very soon. Stay strong, and if it gets to the point that you can't do that anymore, help comes to those who seek it...

Just one specific suggestion:

"I've taken to avoiding my long-distance friends."

If you can find an easy way to reverse this, go for it. The detrimental effects of isolation are significantly worse than those of embarrassment.

And good luck.

I do not know what to say... but I am sorry that these last months have been so difficult for you. You are an amazing woman and sooner or later you will find the solution that suit your family best.
It is not easy to deal with depression, but it is not fair that end up doing almost all the house-family work.
Do not worry for your daugther... she will be fine (my son has been in a 9h a day nursery since the and of the maternity leave (4 month) and he is a very happy boy who loves his family). Concentrate in your work and give a second opportunity to your husband.
Huggs from europe!

Another voice chiming in to give you support. While I've never been on tenure-track AND had a child while trying to muddle through a one-sided relationship with a mentally ill spouse, I have done the latter, and it is not easy. I can't imagine adding those additional stressors in. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and Minnow. Best wishes and positive thoughts in your general direction.

By person with bi… (not verified) on 31 Aug 2008 #permalink

just a quick *hug* - and I really, really hope the new therapist is worth her weight in gold.

Well crappity-crap-crap, damn, I did not realize how bad things had gotten for you my dear SW. My heart hurts for you and I, too, send along lots of virtual hugs. I've been through the marriage storms but not with a kid in the mix so I just cannot imagine...the fact that you are still able to work, plan for your fall classes, keep moving forward, that is so amazing. I hope you give yourself credit for the truly amazing job you are doing coping with all of this. Minnow is lucky to have a SuperGoddess for a mother.

Sweetie, I love you and I care about you. I am also really proud of you for being so strong AND I'm here if you need me.

I just wanted to send a virtual hug your way. I hate that you're going through this and I find it very brave of you to share this. You are amazing.

I don't comment often, but I do read. Sciencewoman, you are just amazing. That you can keep everything together and keep working and caring for that precious child and while on the first year of your tenure-track away from your family and with all these stresses... I know you said that you don't want pity. I'm not giving it. Just admiration and respect and sympathy for a very difficult situation. I hope that things get better for you and your family soon.

--Another virtual hug from a long-time lurker.

Oh, big hugs. That's quite a lot to hold in and to hold together. I know the struggles of a relationship with someone who just can't all too well. A child on top of that is a lot to handle. You're doing an amazing job, keeping everything going. Don't forget to take care of you! And lean on us out here on the internets for support as much as you need. That's what we're here for.

Good luck. I hope things will get better soon.

By another female… (not verified) on 31 Aug 2008 #permalink

ugh, SW, as a long time reader, I'm happy that you feel you can let it all out here. What a lot of stuff to keep inside. Kudos to you for keeping it all going and doing the best you can. Big virtual hugs. And I'll be keeping your family in my thoughts

Sharing these problems with us makes me admire you even more! Thank you.

sans kid and add job problems of my own, and we're in very similar situations. Seems to be something in the air this summer. But I don't let my neighbors in cause I don't like them!

I so wish we were close enough to give and get real hugs; but virtual ones are better than nothing. I now, thanks to Sheboss, have a mantra, "One foot in front of the other; roadblocks are just time out for thinking."

You and Minnow are in my heart.



UUUUgh. I know this time sucks but you *ARE* going to make it through this, you and your family. Don't do this alone- lean on those of us who have similar war stories... live to tell about it and to cheer on others like you when it counts!!

I am so glad that you are going to see a therapist. I hope she is good, too- it will be a wonderful and brave step in the right direction. Thank you for sharing these things with us. I will be thinking of you.

My god. Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. Hugs to you, I hope you can develop super support networks where you are, and I hope things turn around for you and your family soon.

[Male, junior t-t.]

Ye gods. I almost wish that I were in -ology (whatever it is, I'm pretty sure that it's not my field of behavioural neuro!); then at least I could maybe have some chance of actually helping here. As it is: all I can really do is add both to the pile of kudos and to the pile of hugs/wishes of good luck.

Managing the new lab plus home life (including 5 year-old and -2 month-old) is hard enough with a hugely supportive spouse [not that it really matters, but: she's also PhD, makes far more than I ever will, and works if anything longer hours; my being responsible for at least half the domestic stuff is not something I could avoid even were I to so desire!]; if I had to do it under your conditions, I'd fail. Spectacularly, I expect! Congratulations, many laurels, and let me know if you need some cognitive testing done.

Many hugs to you, ScienceWoman. I'm sorry you have to go through all this, and I hope you can get some help, and that you find your way out of this mess soon. Take care.

I'm in awe of all that's on your plate. I think it's both brave and wonderful that you put all that out there. I wish you peace and joy. Minnow has a really really amazing Mommy.

By Female Enginee… (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

*delurking here*
I'm sorry to hear that it seems to be a lot on the plate. I have no idea on having a child and a spouse without job but i do know about having a marriage where the other person is not really there.... and trying to keep your job and all the other things in your life so I wouldn't assume it is an easier.

If anything, although you didn't want any advice, please don't push your friends away. If they are truly your friends, they would want to know if they can do something to make things easier for you (I don't know, clean your house or just give you a hug one day?!). I tried to keep a good facade for along time and it wasn't really the best in the long run.

Good luck with the therapist! And you are truly remarkable as sciencewoman!! don't forget that!!

Wow. I could echo much of the above, but I think I'll just say that whatever support might be available to you would be worth your taking advantage of. I know that some schools will give you a pause in the tenure clock for personal reasons, and maybe you could look into this?

You have my great sympathy.

SW, Thank you for sharing. I had heard through the grapevine that your other had lost his job, but I had no idea how bad things had gotten. I miss you and love you.

For all this, you are a wonderful mother and an excellent scientist. Your husband's failings are not your own.

Thinking of you.

By volcano girl (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

I'm also delurking to give you BIG hugs.
You are amazing, you are so strong and write so well about your love of science and your love of Minnow.
I'm afraid I'm not far from being in the same situation as you, although my DH is still saying that he'll publish his paper soon, and get a faculty position right after that...

Don't avoid your friends. Look at how your virtual friends love you! Some of your real life friends might be able to help you.

And my child also didn't sleep through the night for over a year. He was just hungry. At some point, he learned to eat and nurse at night. The constant lack of sleep sucks. Hang in there.

You are amazing.

Just wishing you strength and peace and hopefully some sleep and rest. I'm so sorry that things are so hard, and am amazed at how much you are holding things together. My daughter is just a bit younger than Minnow, and I know how hard it is to parent alone when my wife is away; I can well imagine how much harder things must be for you. Hang in there.

Hugs from another long term lurker who has been reading your blog since before you got your PhD. I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with all this awfulness right now.

I'm going to stick my two cents worth in... he's got problems with alcohol and depression, he's not helping anything, and it's putting you and your financial situation in the hole... you need to look out for yourself and the baby and put the both of you first. I mean, he's making it worse and not better, and he's obviously fighting his own demons right now... he sounds like a classic alcoholic. He might need to hit rock bottom before he sacks up. It might be good for you or him to move out for a while, get some outside help even if it's hired or your family coming in for a while, and then just see if it blows over or not. He has to get it together, and you can't sacrifice your life and your baby's while you wait...

I know this sucks sh-t, nobody ever gave us the manual for this growing up, huh? I'm really sorry about all this. I've been on the other side of that coin... disabled and health problems and depressed, but I still brought in money and tried to do my share. What is suspect here is the fact that he seems to have given up, and it will break both of you. He has to either try or get out.

By anotherone (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

*De-lurking* Epic Internet hugs! I hope when/if I have kids I can be half as awesome as you, SW! I am truly in awe. And I am going to go thank my sweetie for putting up with me when I was unemployed and sitting at home. Here's wishing you much sleep!

By JustaTech (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

Science Woman: Get your spouse to EXERCISE HARD for an hour or more every day while he is not working. That should help lift his depression, improve is health and make him feel better and, possibly, more manly, maybe even more responsible! I had a tenure track job, husband trying to develop a business while (usually) working full time at another job and two kids. I was exhausted during all my 30's. Husband did almost nothing for household or children, contributed about 1/4 toward family expenses, and stayed away from home until 2 AM. He did not drink or have affairs, just wanted to have his own business, but he was always so exhausted that his temper was extremely bad. I gave up and separated after 12 years, ultimately divorcing. Then I had to raise the two little kids alone and run the household, deal with (initially) 2 kids in daycare, deal with rampaging ex-husband, and try to get tenure and promotion. Truly the only thing that made this possible was that the university I was at stressed teaching and service over research. I ramped down my external-grant funded research to almost nothing, and depended on small grants without salary for summer. Lesson learned? No one can do it all, even you, SW. I feel terrible for you and hope you and your spouse can make the necessary choices. Get spouse to might help. Eventually your baby will sleep alone, but I had a very hard time getting the first to sleep alone, and just moved the second into my bedroom (separate bed) until he was almost 4.

By been there done that (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

sounds like difficult times made even more difficult by lack of sleep. From raising several kids I'll say just one thing. Don't make any major decisions until you start getting a good night's sleep. Camomille or some other sleep enhancing smells may help your baby.

By science cog (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

sounds like difficult times made even more difficult by lack of sleep. From raising several kids I'll say just one thing. Don't make any major decisions until you start getting a good night's sleep. Camomille or some other sleep enhancing smells may help your baby.

By science cog (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

The exercise suggestion above is a good one. And at the risk of destroying your feminist credentials, here's a suggestion:

Perhaps your fish really does need a bicycle after all.

After reading FSP's post about how she doesn't appreciate hugs/kisses from strangers, I offer you instead a sincerely supportive handshake.

Also--whenever I share home or personal troubles with friends, I am always shocked to discover how many of them are going through similar problems themselves. It feels like I'm revealing weakness to acknowledge that the house is wreck and my husband and I are fighting--until my friend says, "Yeah, me too."

So on behalf of the InterTubes, "Yeah, me too." Thanks for your brave post.

More supportive body gestures from another de-lurker.

Can I reassure you at all by saying that I've gone almost word-for-word through what you're surviving right now, and it *can* turn out alright?

(This is also to remind me to remember how lucky I am and stop grousing.)

My marriage has survived so far, and I SO KNOW where you're coming from. You want to be fair, but you expect more also - and it's not ever really 50/50, partly because your standards are going to be different. I could never even drag my spouse to couples counseling, though I certainly have tried in the past. But in the end, I know he's still the man for me. It just gets covered up with a lot of other stuff.

My long-term day care 14-months-of-colic first kid has grown up (now in junior high) to be top of his class, well-adjusted, plays sports, in short - everything you'd hope for, and sweet to boot. I had a second kid and made it through the additional stress of her seven operations and the very idea that she might die, and she's just as lovely, smart and well-balanced.

I got a tenured position, admittedly on another continent, but I publish in reasonable if not top-notch journals and get some things done in my field.

Above all, both husband and kids are PROUD OF ME (they don't say it much, but still). And that makes me proud of myself, because I don't quite believe in myself as much as I could to be secure.

And I want to add that having a baby that doesn't sleep much or well, if you can survive with your sanity intact (and working really helps there), can result as it did for us in your raising a kid who needs much less sleep than you ever did at their age. But that's a great skill in the future for most professions. So think of the midnight-4AM duty as an investment for Minnow's future.

It sounds like you have SO much going on, and I want to send you a virtual hug.

I applaud you for trying couples therapy and for seeing a therapist. I saw a therapist for years, and it really helped me deal with the intense stuff that required a professional's help. Husbands, friends, and family just aren't professionally trained for some of these things, and it takes courage to talk about them with a 'stranger.' Is there a support group you can go to? I was in one of those, too, and it was awesome (but scary at first).

I've been a long time reader and I hope that your husband gets the help he needs to improve his life, then he can help you rebuild your life together. You are truly an inspiration!

Many hugs Sciencewoman. I have been reading your blog since you were a student and trying to have Minnow and have always been impressed by how awesome you are. I hope things get better for you soon.

SW - you are a superstar for sure! You look out for you. Being the daughter of a 24-7 alcoholic myself, Minnow already knows you love her and you are doing what you need to do. Keep your chin up. Many hugs.

Another virtual hug, cookie, and cup of tea. I did the single mother routine in a previous century, so I know what it's like. I have a new co-worker who is single-mothering two little girls, one with health problems. It breaks my heart that the issues haven't changed - a non-supporting spouse or ex-spouse, arranging day care, working around no day care, constant sleep deprivation, the list goes on. I can't think of one thing that's gotten better for working mothers in the past twenty years.

Dear SW,
Words fail me. I'm sorry I'm only reading this now. Best wishes to you. You are very strong, and you'll find a way to do what is right for you and Minnow.

Hi SW,

I used to read your old blog and on a whim followed you over here only to discover that I know you. I am one of those long-distance people from your grad school days, and one of many who I am sure are still rooting for you.

First, congrats on the NSF-ADVANCE. Seriously, huge kudos to you.

I am sorry to hear you are struggling so much with the double whammy of spouse and child. I am lucky to have a more supportive spousal situation but had a non-sleeping child and it took two years. I think no one wants to talk about it but some kids just take that long to develop the kind of adult sleep habits that consist of long streches of uninterrupted sleep. I will say that he ultimately did, with nothing special from us, learn to sleep. About a month after he turned 2yo. He made a big leap of improvement around 19mo in ability to fall back asleep easily but he was still waking up and then, 5-6 months later, he could magically sleep for 8-9 hours without rousing at all, and then go another 1-2 hours a night. Its like someone flipped a switch in him. So, the good news is that its going to happen some day. But the bad news is its likely to take a while and I am not sure there is much you can do besides your best to accomodate your needs and her needs at the same time.
In the meantime, you do have a cheering section out here who are sorry you are struggling and are more than willing to lend support or a helping hand when you need it, and I really mean that, those aren't just pretty empty words.

Apologies SW. I totally garbled the two email I had for you and Alice. Embaraseed. Back to lurking.

Just catching up on my blog reading, and am so so sorry to read about your problems. Like others, I'd noticed you said less about your non-Minnow personal life, but hoped it was just because things were smooth and humdrum.

Being British I'm not so tactile, but I'm sending virtual chocolate, virtual cups of tea, and an offer to come and see the total tip that is MY house! You're a great person and have no reason to feel bad about a mess - who ever wished they'd spent more time dusting at the end of their life? Minnow sounds as if she's thriving, so clearly you are doing enough housework to keep things healthy. Anything else is cosmetic!