This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
Balance is an especially important part of my life.
First of all I’m a journalist and as such, strive to be fair and impartial when writing a news story. That means getting both sides of the issue and presenting it in a balanced and cohesive package. And speaking of work, it’s also just as important to strike a good balance between my job and my family. Ignore either and there will be trouble. And then there’s my check book…but luckily my banker wife balances that for me…
Which leads me to my point: A good marriage — and subsequently, good parents — must balance each other out. Sounds simple right? Well it took me a long time to figure this out. You see, one of the biggest concerns I had before getting married was that MJ and I had no common ground. Seriously, we are different in just about every way people can differ from each other. She’s got ice water in her veins and her decisions (at least before the baby) were rational and calculating. My decisions have universally been made on raw emotion, often at the expense of facts or common sense. She was completely career driven and fixated on her annual income. I could care less how much money I make in a given year, as long as I’m happy and bills are getting paid on time. She likes epic dramas and one of my favorite movies is Dumb & Dumber. She listens to Creed and Nickelback while my radio dial never leaves the country station and I’ve had the same Irish music CD in my car for three years. She eats health food and…well, one look at me reveals the lack of tofu in my life.
You get the picture. Yin and yang, all the way. And we both worried that we would never find enough common ground to make things work. Sure everyone says opposites attract, but we truly believed we were in Hatfield and McCoy territory.
But today, while walking with our newborn son through Heritage Gardens in Sandwich, I thought back on those worries and laughed. Because the truth is, we are perfect for each other. She has every attribute I lack and I possess the few qualities she is without. Together, we found we balanced each other just fine.
For instance, when Will is screaming at 4 a.m. and refuses to latch on while MJ is trying to feed him, her reaction is…well, it’s to get pissed and frustrated. And who can blame her? That’s when I walk over, remind her of all the breastfeeding tips we’ve learned, calm her down and — voila — he starts feeding as soon as she’s calm. And on the flip side, I attempted to take a look at our finances because I’m worried about paying all the bills, the looming cost of future day care and trying to start a college savings account for Will. But when I looked at the budget I panicked, because finance is Greek to me. All I saw were obstacles and impossibilities. But MJ showed me how we’re going to deal with everything and mapped out her plan to make things work.
MJ lives for the future and therefore I have to watch her and make sure she doesn’t miss out on enjoying Will. I live for the present, the here and now, but she has to ring my bell sometimes to remind me there’s a bigger picture we have to keep our eyes on. And please don’t think we’re this lovey-dovey couple who agrees on everything. When we fight we REALLY fight. We’ve had some doozies let me tell you. But to stay married and to remain good parents, you need those conflicting opinions and thoughts on life. You need a counterpart and a dissenting opinion. You need balance.
I’m glad I have it and I’m glad I have her. It’s that balance that comforts me and lets me know Will is going to be just fine between the two of us.