My Needs, Her Wants…
Need and Want are two totally different words with two totally different meanings. However, as a society, we’ve started mixing the meaning of them up in such a manner, that it’s hard to decipher the difference of the two on an instinctual level, as well as an emotional level.
Well, when a man says “I’m starving,” does he want or need food? Most likely he wants food. The human body actually has enough reserve of fat for energy to last an average man 2 weeks without food as long as he has water… hell Ghandi lasted 21 days. But if you asked that man at 10 pm after a long day of standing in line and chasing children in Disneyland if he was hungry, he’d probably tell you he needs to eat. When a woman says I need a pedicure, or I need to get my hair done, well in her mind, she is so rugged, that she in fact believes her want is a need.
But the determination between want and need aren’t so easy sometimes. Sometimes want and need do in fact work hand in hand. For instance when you tell a child, “I need you to understand what I am saying to you” and “I want you to understand me,” that comes from the same place in your heart, where you are overall saying, “what I am saying to you is of the utmost importance… please let this soak in.”
Well, I have my wants, and I have my needs, and if I sit down for a moment before I finalize a decision, I can pretty much decipher the difference of the two, but usually that only is actually true if the decision has to do with my internal feelings… which… I imagine is true with all people.
The problem here is that once I married my wife, I was now ultimately responsible for two people. Life forced me to take a step back and interpret the scenario a little closer, and a lot of my needs became most of my wants. For instance, I’ve literally been eyeing this macro lens for my DSLR as well as speedflash for well over a year. 3 years ago, I would’ve talked myself into needing these items, and they would’ve probably been sitting at home right now with very little use out of them. However, they are things of luxury now, and they are merely something I would like to have if there was a lot of extra play money laying around.
When it was just the two of us, the need to get out of the house would take us out on $100-$200 date nights to see a musical or the newest Cirque du Soleil, but not without trying some posh restaurant found on Yelp–or maybe a little weekend getaway trip to the mountains. Whereas now with the baby, needing to get out of the house now is… is just for a little fresh air, and those date nights are a thing of the wants.
As the situation changes, the definition between needs and wants change. That’s normal, and that’s natural. However, as the Alpha (I say Alpha because I don’t want to rule out any women in my position) I think the internalization of need and want differ from our significant others.
As I sit here, staring out of the 12th floor window from the Best Western Hotel on the outskirts of Seoul as the rain’s-a-pourin and the thunderin’s-a… thunderin… I feel a little helpless. I feel helpless because on the other side of the phone I can hear the helplessness in my wife’s voice, knowing she’s halfway around the world and could really use my help about now…
Initially this job I’m currently on was supposed to be a quick two week trip–routine really in nature. I was supposed to show up, check out the system, and leave on the scheduled flight I had outta here, back to the family I’ve left behind. However as unexpected as life is, things happen, and obligations must be met before you can sign off as done. I understand that from a life in the military, and as much as I’m ok with it, it still isn’t preferred.
But my obligations, don’t just affect me anymore. We are a new family, me and Paps, and there is a child in the house.
We were fortunate for me to have been able to take off six weeks of Paid Family Leave before this trip, and even though I was present in the house all six of those weeks, I wasn’t available. I was in a Statistics class that I had to retake as a prerequisite for grad school, and understanding that course took an easy 8-10 hours of me studying everyday… but that’s another story… However, if my wife needed a break, I could hear it in her voice, and I was there to give it to her. If she wanted to shower, I was there to give her the time away. I was there for support, and I was there if she needed to hear another person’s voice although it may be a very brief conversation. I was there to take care of the dogs, and shop for groceries, and although I may not have been immediately around, I was still there.
I can tell… she needs that right now.
And I can make the argument from the stone-cold side of myself and say, “she’ll get through this… Every good parent figures it out…” And I can make the argument that there are single parents out there doing so much more. But when I hear her voice… I hear the voice of a single parent. I hear the tired drawl in her voice, and the quivering of her strength on the verge of snapping. I can hear the questioning of self, and most of all…I can hear the loneliness, and need for just one minute to herself.
No… I don’t write this for her to be pitied… no. This is still about needs and wants–and as much as I want to be home, I see this time as an opportunity for my wife to take action into her own hands and reach out for help. I have told her many times, many times before the baby even, that if she needs help, she needs to ask for it. But I swear… the stubbornness of that woman will be the death of me. However, the thing is I am not home, and my need is for my family to be taken care of… not my want…. my need.
I can’t take care of her unless she is willing to ask for help.
I NEED HER TO ASK FOR HELP…
I recently wrote a post “It takes a village,” about something completely different. But that slogan… that quote… that way of life is so meaningful to me, and it drains energy out of me that my wife and I are not on the same page with it. Her want to be comfortable in her skin, may be her need, but I see it as a want. It completely works against my best interest, and the fact is, I can literally do nothing about it except recommend that she calls somebody for help.
I don’t say this because I don’t think she can’t do it on her own, and I’m not sure if subconsciously that’s what she think I think about her, but I do it because everyone needs a boost sometimes. We weren’t meant to do this alone… It takes a village. Although I know our wants and needs will differ, maybe some will be similar, the need for me to know that she is taken care of, in my eyes, outweigh any of both of our wants. I’m going to need her to trust me on this…
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Posted in Parenthood, The Puzzle Piecewith 10 comments.
I have been wanting to comment on this for a couple days now, but can’t think of the right way to say what I want so that I don’t offend anyone. I feel like this can be taken as me being presumptuous versus sympathetic and helpful (the latter is what I’m going for). This is certainly not coming from a bad place, so bear with me. And I might be “missing” the main point of your blog, but my take away from this was about you needing Arleen to ask for help, and her possibly needing help, but not asking for it. I think it’s hard sometimes to ask for help, for many different reasons, but mostly because it’s hard to admit that you have had enough. As a parent, a mom, we feel we should be able to do everything and anything and don’t need anyone to help. With that said, I “gave up” early on when Zach was born and accepted/asked for help. I realized I needed some breaks for my own sanity and that it was okay to ask for help; though I didn’t have readily accessible help; I had to wait for my parents or in-laws to make the trek to get to us. Just because I needed/wanted help didn’t mean I was a bad person/parent. I am so jealous that you and Arleen have family and good friends so close that they can come and help more often (than my family/in-laws); granted I’m sure a lot of people work, so daytime help isn’t as accessible, but I wish I would have been closer to family so that I could catch a break more often. My point is two fold, to you Robert, be patient with Arleen; even though you hear in her voice she could use a break, don’t push it! And to Arleen, I hope whatever your reasoning for not wanting to ask for help, you can be open minded and continue to think about it, but in the end you will make the best decision for yourself and Jake, no matter what that decision is. But know that asking for help is not giving up and it certainly doesn’t mean you are a bad parent!
Yes! Brina !! It’s not easy to ask for help! There’s a level a guilt I experienced for wanting a break! I would ask Andrew for help but wouldn’t leave the room or house. I just wanted the extra hands. It wasn’t until last week that I took a night off and went to a girlfriends house to enjoy a glass… Well two… Of wine! I feel like a bad mother for needing a break, and or that I must being doing something incorrectly for feeling this exhausted or frustrated. Let Arleen go at her own pace… Maybe encourage family or friends to just invite themselves over… We experience enough pressure as it is being moms with all these “this is what you should do”s out there. Try not to place any pressure on her to ask for help… It’s even hard to say yes when it’s offered! I’ve had moms offer all the time to come over and help with Gabriel so I could eat or shower! But now I’ve gotten to a comfortable place to call a girlfriend over just to hold and play with Gabriel so I could fold laundry, cook, or clean! She will get there when she’s ready and confident. New parents need time to figure this whole thing out… Not just sleep, poop, feedings… But being a mom or dad… Whole new yellow brick road!
Brina… there’s only thick skin around here. If you said anything that “comes off” aggressive its fine. We need to be a stronger society that is ok with giving and taking criticism.
With that being said, what you said wasn’t offensive or presumptuous at all.
With what both you and Sarah said, that’s all fine and dandy. And I agree with you to a point. We need to get back to a state where as we remember it does in fact take a village. I know I keep beating that dead horse, but we WILL in fact fail if we get too burned out. That’s how people snap. That’s when people go crazy, or give up completely. And I know Paps isn’t anywhere near that point, but that ultimately what happens if once it gets too late and you’ve never ever ask for help.
And not to knock anything you’ve said, but I feel that me being on the road for 3 going on 4 weeks now is different than me going to work for 8-12 hours and still able to come home to help with the baby. My need for her outreach is on a whole different level…
… I’m not around.
… I’m completely and utterly helpless.
… I am completely out of the equation.
and when I feel I can help… I become an unfree hand when handling the baby…. because I become a phone… get me.
Anyway, I hear you both loud and clear. But the fact is, I personally think it’s unecessary to feel like a failure as a parent because you need help. The ONE thing EVERY parent tells you before you pop that kid out is… ASK. FOR. HELP. Ask for it. Don’t be afraid… we all need it.
These are the words of wisdom you hear most. Not how to change diapers, or what protein goes best with with what veggie… they always say “don’t be afraid to ask for help…”
That makes complete sense how you feel… And men are problem solvers… You want to provide solutions from a far distance and I’m sure it frustrating to not get the results you want… She will get there… Give her time. It may happen sooner than you think. As far as the village, that will come. It’s a community involvement in the growth, development, and learning for our children. Hang in there Robert! You both are doing a great great job! Everything’s gonna work out fine.
Robert, I totally get it! Where I am now (in terms of my comfort level with being a new parent) I COMPLETELY AGREE with you! We NEED to ask for help! And now that I am comfortable asking for help I think it’s crazy that we (as parents… Moms) don’t do it more often, especially because I know now how important help is and I don’t have the luxury of it (since all our family is so far away). I can’t wait to move back to LA so that I can finally get some help, 2 years later. Like I said before though, it’s hard for us (moms) to ask for help; I’m not saying it makes sense to others or that we shouldn’t, I’m just saying it’s hard to bring yourself to that place. Like Sarah said, I think we all come around, eventually.
I also completely get what you are saying about being on the road versus gone for 8 hours a day and I’m sure it’s super hard for you knowing you are not there to help at all and wanting to make sure your wife and child are taken care of. Your need for Arleen to ask for help comes from a good place and only shows what a great husband and father you are. I’ll repeat something Sarah said earlier, “Maybe encourage family or friends to just invite themselves over”, especially while you are on the road. Sometimes it’s a bit easier to accept help that is offered versus having to ask for it.
Not sure how old your baby is, but yes, it does take a village! It’s exhausting work for sure. I’m amazed at women (and some men too) who do it on their own. How they don’t snap, I’ll never know.
Yes Don… A serious all new respect for single parents out there! Baby JR is shy over 2 months now, and I’ve been gone for 3 weeks of it, maybe moving into 4. So… there’s that.
Either way, thanks for reading, and commenting! I sincerely appreciate it!
This made me tear up. As a new mom I know the feeling of needing/wanting help but not being able to ask for it. Even from your spouse who’s in the next room.
I bet you’re doing an amazing job. Just remember, we’re guys… things haven’t changed just cause we’re dads now. Let us know you need help! I bet your baby daddy is more than willing to help… and if he’s not, well turn him here cause he’s got “some splanin’ to do!” We love you ladies!
Cheer Up Charlie! And thanks for reading!
Thanks again guys!!! Much appreciated!