"My Husband is a Sportsaholic"
Her TurnFamilial Priorities
"If Bob tells me one more time that he can't speak to me because the game's on, I want a divorce," snapped Meryl, 41, a former documentary filmmaker who quit her job to stay home when her twin sons, Josh and Jason, were born seven months ago. "With satellite TV and ESPN, a game is always on. Will I ever get his undivided attention again?
"Bob is a commercial photographer-- he and a friend formed their own company a few years ago, and they do mostly magazine advertising work. I always knew he watched a lot of TV, but before the twins were born, I didn't notice how he totally zones out on sports. We have five TV sets in our house. There are two in the family room, one on top of the other, so Bob can watch two games at once. All five sets are always on, so he won't miss anything if he goes to another room. He even falls asleep with the remote in his hand. The man is obsessed.
"I'm starved for adult conversation, but Bob doesn't hear one word I say. He is a wonderful, hands-on father, though. He even arranged to take two months off when the babies were born. When he isn't at his studio or on a shoot, he can work from home. And his touch is magic-- I'll be at wit's end trying to calm Josh, who is colicky, but when Bob takes over, bingo, the kid stops. I get so angry, though, when I come home from, say, the gym to find the three of them in front of the TV--Bob on the couch, the babies in their infant seats at his feet. He completely forgets they're there and starts bellowing at the screen, scaring them to death. I know listening to that racket all day makes them wired.
"We've had a much harder time than we thought finding competent baby-sitters who could handle two infants. With all the horror stories you hear about nannies, neither of us is too keen on leaving them with anyone. Besides, we both waited too long to have a family to leave them with a stranger. So we haven't been out alone since they were born.
"After trial and error, we devised a system of dividing up the night-- one of us is on duty from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.; the other from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m.-- so we each get a chunk of sleep. We tried switching nights, but neither of us liked it. But other than taking a shift with the kids, Bob does nothing. He lets dirty dishes pile up on the counter, and leaves baby bottles lying around. He doesn't see any reason to make the bed, since we'll be in it again in a few hours.
"I get so angry about all this that I throw things at him--a baby toy, the remote control. Then he calls me crazy and insists that there must be something wrong with me. I heard those same words growing up.