Sara: Recently, we taught Gus how to make the sign language for “more.” He’s found it fascinating to be able to ask for more of practically anything and get it. He mostly likes asking for more nursing.
One night, Gus decided he wanted more breast milk. He made his sign to me, and I must not have moved fast enough to nurse him. He then proceeded to go over to Justin, pull up Justin’s t-shirt, and make his sign for “more.”
Justin, of course, was confused. He doesn’t have the parts to nurse Gus. Finally, I told Justin to give Gus an animal cracker, and they were both happy.
Now, Gus does the “more” sign to Justin as well, probably in hopes of getting another animal crackers!
While humorous, it’s been good for Gus to be able to let me know what he wants more easily. Instead of getting upset, Gus is just able to make his sign and I know he’s hungry. When Gus doesn’t ask, it’s guess work for me to determine what’s wrong.
So, too, it is in my marriage with Justin. Towards the end of last week, I was very down and out. School and working full days again had started for Justin, and it was as tough of an adjustment for me as it was for him.
On Friday, it seemed like everything was going wrong. Since Gus wouldn’t go down for a nap, he was tired and cranky. Not only that, but we were having company that evening. In addition, I was sick earlier in the week and hadn’t had the opportunity to get out of the house. I also hadn’t slept well because of being sick and needed a nap, but I couldn’t take one because Gus wouldn’t nap.
Finally, I just hit my breaking point and took a few minutes to cry. I hadn’t cried like that since I was pregnant with Gus (when I think I cried every five minutes). After I cried, I picked myself up and took care of Gus.
When Justin got home, he knew something was wrong, and tried to be supportive.
Justin: I had called home before leaving work to let Sara know that I was going to go for my daily walk before coming home. I could tell Sara was a little bit upset on the phone, but she told me to go ahead and go for my walk.
I actually tried to ask Sara what was wrong but she had hung up (it turns out her cell phone actually dropped the call).
When I finished my walk, I noticed that I had 5 missed calls from Sara. Needless to say, I hurried home.
I had no idea how upset Sara was. We have a rule in our house to help prevent miscommunication. The rule is “always mean what you say and always say what you mean.” I am not good at reading between the lines and this way Sara knows that I will always take everything she says at face value. She hadn’t directly said anything, so I hadn’t done anything.
Sara: The problem was that I honestly didn’t know myself what was wrong or what needed to be done to fix the problem. I was just sad. Both Justin and I had an adjustment with him going back to school. I just didn’t realize how much of an adjustment it would be for me, or how much I had enjoyed Justin working short days. All of these things helped put me in a better mood and made me feel more appreciated.
Over the course of the long weekend, we tried to do some extra-special things as a family, like watch the Alabama football game and see some old friends. We also made sure that both Justin and I had some time individually without Gus.
This experience was a reminder that Justin can’t just guess and know what I need. I, like Gus, have to use language (or sign language) to let Justin know my needs so he can help meet them, preferably before I get so sad.