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Why It's My Own Damn Fault I'm So Overwhelmed

When I realized there were no more tissues in the upstairs closet—or anywhere else in the house—I clutched at my throat in a panic. Phlegm rattled deep in my chest. My breath wheezed out of me pathetically.

"There are no more tissues in the house," I announced to Michael once I was back downstairs, my voice a whisper because I had laryngitis.

"Okaaaay..." he said, waiting for the punchline.

"You're going to have to go out tomorrow to buy more," I said, and then paused to hock up some yellow mucus into one of the few, crumpled tissues I had left. "And some Benadryl."

He seemed resistant. "We'll see," he said.

"YOU HAVE NO CHOICE," I whisper-shouted before dissolving into a loose cough.

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I collapsed into a kitchen chair. The table was covered in all of the things I'd picked up on my way home from the doctor earlier that afternoon: two bottles of Aleve, another pill prescribed to combat my cough, blister packs of Claritin, an asthma inhaler, a tub of Vicks VapoRub and four cans of Chickarina.

Goddammit. If only I'd known we were out of tissues.

The next morning, I announced to Michael that I was going to the market myself. I had to pick up cleaning supplies for the new cleaner, who was starting later that week. I wanted some fruit with which to make cold-combating smoothies.

And I was afraid he would buy the wrong tissues.

"Okay," he said, not at all concerned or sympathetic to the fact that I was a walking plague.

But can I blame him? Isn't this my fault? Haven't I created this monster?

Yes, I'm juggling work and home and child and it often feels like too much. Yes, I want to strangle my husband when I see him sitting in the back room watching TV, his hand in a bag of Cheetos. Yes, I just wrote a post about this. But consider this my counterpoint to myself.

And I've taken to motherhood with much the same zest for micromanaging. Because what if my husband doesn't do things the right way?

After all, it's my own inner control freak that doesn't empower him to ever take charge. Because apparently I manage my marriage in much the same way I manage my job.

"I'm taking two months of maternity leave," I told my main client pretty much the moment I found out I was pregnant. "I'll write what needs to be written ahead of time. This won't in any way affect anything."

They told me this was absolutely fine. They were excited for me.

"I need to be able to schedule things in advance," I told the client's web developers two months later. "I'm going on maternity leave in seven months." They did what had to be done.

48 hours after being discharged from the hospital, and after expelling a baby from my vagina, I was coordinating book reviews, making edits on articles and conducting interviews. Because God forbid I allow myself to release control over anything I'm working on, even if only temporarily. I hate having to rely on other people to get the job done. The world might implode.

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And I've taken to motherhood with much the same zest for micromanaging. Because what if my husband doesn't do things the right way? (And by "the right way," I obviously mean my way.)

So I glare at him when he's watching TV and Em happens to wander back there, because I don't want her watching TV before the age of 2. And I get nervous when he takes Emily out to dinner with his parents, because I know she'll end up back home past her usual bedtime. And I worry that he's neglecting her when I ask him to take her for awhile so I can focus on my work, because I can hear her crying through the ceiling. I can't fully remove my attention from what she's doing and how she might be feeling and what might be done to comfort her. This despite knowing that she's a master con artist.

I am an insufferable control freak and it's no wonder my husband prefers to retreat within the role he knows best: that of the breadwinner, the one who keeps a roof over our head while I take care of meals and laundry and baby and maybe make a few bucks while I chase my elusive, writerly dreams.

I have created the situation I write ranty blog posts about. And now I have to live in it.

Photograph by: Twenty20

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