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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Happy Friday! | Main | Elsewhere, there is laughter and tragedy, although not in that order. »

Marriage is hard.

Problem: My husband is unreasonable, and I am not.

To wit: he takes issue with my comments regarding his parenting (which is what he calls what he does). I agree that I shouldn’t interfere, but on the other hand what he’s doing is wrong, whereas my way is almost always right. Please note that I changed that last sentence from "always always" to "almost always." Hey, I’m not perfect! I can recognize this.

For instance, this morning I caught him helping our son get dressed. When our son is perfectly capable of getting dressed by himself! So I say, reasonably, “You don’t have to help him, you jerk.” I know this sounds harsh, but “you jerk” is our marriage shorthand for “unless you really think this is a special circumstance, and if it is I respect your opinion, although we both know deep in our hearts that it isn’t, doofus.” We have a few of these marriage-shorthand terms. Although only I use them. My husband is more given to hand gestures. Usually behind my back. (Guess what? We have MIRRORS, doofus.)

I can leave Scott alone when it comes to him mishandling the trivial stuff, but for the big issues, like buttoning, I have no choice but to step in. If I don’t, our son will be twenty and unable to button his pants. He will be chasing the other students around his junior-college dorm, shouting “BUTTON ME.” He will never have a healthy adult relationship wherein he can call his partner names for disagreeing with his parenting style. Because of my interference, someday he will stride confidently about his Ivy-league dorm, never looking down, because he knows—he knows in his heart—that his pants are securely buttoned, and will stay that way, until such time as he unbuttons them himself. That’s the kind of confidence Scott is undermining, people. I am saving my son.

On the other hand, Scott often butts in where he best should leave his trap shut. For instance, Sunday morning I was gently admonishing Henry for acting like a nutcase. This was part of a long-standing debate between the two of us, regarding maintaining a calm and quiet demeanor when the situation warrants it. It was not because I hadn’t had coffee yet and Henry was waving his arms about and shrieking LA LA LA LA while twirling around me. I was not “clutching my head and shrieking.” I was calmly and rationally explaining that I would be happier if he would lower his voice and cease any and all movement. Telling me to “lighten up” was unwarranted. Patting me on the shoulder was clearly condescending, and suggesting that I “take a break” was really too much. And really, kid’s not going to be scarred by a little high-pitched screaming. Who’s the one who really should lighten up? Answer: always him and never me.

I tell you, it’s not easy being a hypocrite.

Reader Comments (57)

So it looks like we are all married to the same idiot man who has some sort of Santa-like super powers to be everywhere at one - dropping Packages of Annoying and Ignorance to all the wives in the land.

We are so lucky!
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
If you really want to help Henry's future college clothing clasp concerns, you'll work with him on the one-handed bra removal technique.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersumo
Oh god, my husband's not an idiot! I was joking! I was making fun of me! You're getting me in trouble, here, people! Gah.

January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralice
I'm surprised by all of the husband bashing. I thought Alice was making the complete opposite point. Y'know, tongue-in-cheek. Sarcasm.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterYolanda
delurking to giggle at Sumo.................Now that is a valuable lesson!
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
I thought the bashing was sarcasm. Isn't it? Aren't I right, as always?
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMadeleine
In the comments, I mean. I knew Alice was being sarcastic.

And Sumo has a good point.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMadeleine
You mean, you don't actually call your husband a jerk? ;)
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbirdgal
The funny thing is, in our house, whenever I decide to prolong a child's dependence by doing something for them they can very well do on their own, it is because I love them so much and can't bear the thought of them growing up. When my husband does it, he's just falling down on the job.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteranna
I knew you were being sarcastic, but I can also see it too, I mean the arguments over how to raise a child. I swear if my husband and I ever got divorsed it would be for arguing over how to treat our 4 year old.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterErika
It's kind of like paranoia.

When everyone is out to get you, it's just good thinking.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterraine
I certainly hope the bashing is sarcastic! Do we not all worship our god-like husbands? Ladies?
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralice
They *never* understand how insignificant our high-pitched, head-clutching screaming is, and how VERY VERY WRONG their parenting methods so clearly are. SIGH!
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
Early in our parenting journey, hubby and I made a vow to never - ever interfere with one another's parenting techniques. Oh, I try, I really try, but I just cannot keep my hands from reaching in to "fix" the job he's doing with L's pony tails or whispering a judgemental "Russell" at him under my breath when he's obviously lost his temper.

Sarcasm aside, my husband is a saint!!
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJuju
Ok, my husband is NOT an idiot. But he can be damn annoying. And I wish he were more like Santa Claus.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
Don't be sexist, people. I live in a same-sex marriage and I can tell you sometimes women can be wrong, too! When they aren't me. And are my wife. Happens all the time.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermommycheryl
You favor high pitched screaming? I'm more in the "clenched teeth and gravelly voiced words spaced very. carefully. apart. with my head held at a strangely stiff and unnatural angle" camp.

January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
This whole post was hysterical, but what did me in was that you managed to use the term "doofus" twice in one paragragh.

And yes, not watching the husband in the act of parenting definitely helps. I can't keep my mouth shut either. Even though I hear The Voice in my head screaming, "SHUT UP! SHUT.UP. SHUT UP!"

My name is Katie and I have control issues..."Hi, Katie."
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKatieG
Loved your post, and loved Kyran's comment! We aren't outnumbered: 2 parents, 2 kids, but everyday is a game of outwitting and outlasting the little angels, and the sheer energy it takes has definitely changed many a past argument producing scenario into "Glad its you screwing up (ie. "dealing with the behavioural issue") not me".
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
I swear the comments on your blog are *almost* as good as your blog itself. Where do you find these people?
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJodi
I too have a husband who is mostly, almost, completly wrong ALL.THE.TIME. And have on occasion been told to "relax" or "Sheesh, how many more days are left of this". But I do love him....mostly, almost, all the time {:o)I do enjoy the "LALALALA" thing because of the creative swear words it's forced me to have. Like "Fudge Popsicle", "Jesus Murphy" and my personal favorite "Son of a...sugar cookie"!!! Try the last one out next time you stub your toe, saying sugar cookie with my teeth tightly clenched always makes my husband laugh.Love your blog Alice!!!!
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDmom
The "Lighten Up" phrase drives me nuts. When one twin has his hands in the hinge side of the front door, and other twin is trying to slam it, it's not time to "lighten up." It's time to jump up like a madwoman and save fingers. And then we get, "Is something WRONG with you???" Like, they are always perfect, so of course, if there's anything wrong, it's on our side of the ledger, our way of doing things, our method of reacting. Has to be that way. Their way is correct. (Duh, I knew that. Why do I keep forgetting the rules?)
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPetunia
Yeah, I laughed out loud. Really, not just in the internet netspeak LOL way that people say but don't really mean. I literally (literally!) laughed out loud!

I wish I had one of those perfect post awards to give you for this. Loved it.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJustLinda
As for that hypocrite thing--it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

As for the buttoning thing--you know the rest.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPlanet Mom
AMEN SISTER(!)stepping back and watching my, I mean husband in action can drive me crazy. Don't get me wrong, when he helps (which is very rare) I am elated. But COME ON! are 46 and still forget to zipper your own son walks around asking, "Dad, you got a lisence to sell hotdogs?" Oh.....and I have heard LIGHTEN UP a few times.....I swear if I were bigger I would try and take his ass down.......but for now I utter things under my breath or as I walk out of the, I know-but he's lost part of his hearing in one ear.....I am just using what I have to work with...DOOOOOOFUSSSSSS!(did you hear that?!)
January 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermonster mama

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