Team Us

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2008

“Gimme a high five!”

“Uh, no.

I’ve never been much of a sports watcher, but I enjoy playing a good game, whether it’s Scrabble, Pictionary, or the very competitive Throwing Stuffed Animals Into the Basket Game (one of my favorites). I’m not saying I’m good -- just competitive -- and certainly not above a high-five, ass slap, or “Hell yea!” when something goes well (and if I don’t say it out loud, I’m probably thinking it).

Most people don’t know this about me since I never played sports in high school -- but that was just a logistical life error. We moved a lot while I was growing up (4 high schools in as many years), so it was difficult for me to latch onto a team when I was really just figuring out where the bathroom was located.

This may explain why, when a few friends and I decided to play Pictionary for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I single high-fived, double high-fived, and was willing to smash a beer can on my skull if I’d had one handy -- typical football-like behavior, wasted on a game where people use tiny pencils to draw stick figures on paper. When I leaned over to my teammate in order to smash our foreheads together, she backed away ever-so-slightly, probably unsure if I was going to kiss her or knock her unconscious. Either way, I took the hint and backed off.

In school, Michael was on the Running Team and he was in The Band. I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think the members of these teams are wont to give high-fives and ass-slaps at the end of their performances. They are not filled with the same sort of high-testerone desire to win, win win! and crush the other team. Instead, they strike me as individuals who just happen to be on a team. They’re glad when their team does well, but they’re not about to high-five anyone.

Yet, despite Michael's lukewarm team spirit and my total inexperience, I have to admit we have ourselves a pretty good little team. Lately, I’ve had an almost unbearable urge to give Michael high-fives, despite his repulsion of them. Last week Michael installed Turbo Tax, assembled our documents, and garnered a nice refund for us. That was a total high-five moment. The other day I managed to talk our bank into refunding $80 in fees and I was like, “High five me!” and he was like, “Uh, no -- but good job.” Then there was the time Elizabeth came into the kitchen and announced she cut a heart out of construction paper (her one-thousandth one), and after she left the room Michael and I had the same thought -- wanna medal?


Perhaps I’m so appreciative of our success because Team Us wasn’t always the well-oiled machine it is today. Of course Michael and I were always a team (marriage can do that to a person), but nothing really tests the strength of the team like having children. Parenting is the litmus test of team spirit and causes the team to regroup and become stronger or to completely fall apart.

In the beginning, the hardest part was knowing what “position” each of us would play. Pretty much the only thing we knew for certain was that I would do the breast feeding (because of my, uh, boobies) and he would clean the cat box (because of the, uh, toxoplasmosis -- which can occur well after pregnancy no matter what you think). Aside from that, we had no clue. What made this tougher was that eventually I returned to work and we both had to function as well as possible at our jobs. Therefore, I couldn’t take on all of the child care responsibility, and neither could he. Which left us with the following challenges:

Who cooks dinner? Who washes dishes? Who feeds the baby? Who comforts the baby? Who takes the baby to the doctor? Who changes the baby’s diaper? Who takes out the garbage? Who cleans the vomit? Who cleans the car seat? Who washes the baby? Who dresses the baby? Who clips the baby’s fingernails? Who runs to the store to get more diapers?

And on, and on, and on...

If you think all of this can be done spontaneously, simply by depending on who happens to have free time at the moment, then you are wrong. Because there isn’t any free time. And if there is free time, perhaps the person who consoled a screaming baby for an hour needs to watch a little TV to regain some sanity. Or perhaps the person who just cleaned vomit out of the car seat with a toothbrush needs to watch a little TV to regain some sanity. So you both watch TV. But then -- who’s going to make dinner? (And no, you can’t call for a pizza because you can’t afford a pizza!)

Are you starting to see how vital it is that the members of the team work together smoothly? After all, you can’t have two pitchers and no one to catch the ball. We each have to know our parts, which isn’t always easy since no one’s exactly clamoring to be The Person Who Cleans Vomit From The Car Seats. (In football, would that be the “Offensive Guard”? Hiyo!)

So finally, after all these years, I’m on a real team. I may not have had a chance to play soccer in high school, but now I’m playing for the team of my life. I’ve never worked so hard, sweat so much, or gotten so many bruises. While we may not win a 4 ft. tall trophy or a million dollar Nike contract, our team is doing pretty well -- especially when success is measured in the health and width of our girls’ smiles and in our commitment to our marriage.

Yet, time and again I raise my hand to celebrate Team Us and there it hangs in midair, unslapped and unacknowledged. (sigh) I suppose a team isn't defined by the quantity of high-fives or the size of its giant foam fingers. A team is defined by the quality and perseverance of its teammates and their individual commitment to succeed. Thus, after 4 years of parenting and 16 years of marriage, we are (in part):


- The Car Cleaner
- The Reader
- The Breakfast Baggy Assembler
- The Returner of Children to Bed Between 9pm and 12am
- The Entertainment Coordinator
- The Bill Payer
- The Clown and Cheerer-Upper
- The Senior Head Rubber and Back Massager


- The Cook
- The Singer
- The Dresser of Children
- The Returner of Children to Bed Between 12am and 6am
- The Comforter and Senior Boo-Boo Kisser
- The Inspector of Red Vaginas
- The Administrator of Medicines
- The Occasional Sexy-Clothes Wearer and Administer of Blow Jobs

Still -- I think all that deserves an occasional high-five, don’t you?


Bookdiva February 13, 2008 at 4:12 PM  

OGM LOL! Sometimes I feel like I am the team's coach, manager, pitcher, catcher, equipment manager, craft services, chauffeur, comptroller, and cheerleader, all at the same time. While my husband is the fan in the bleacher seats, nursing a beer and occasionally raising a fist and shouting "Whoo-hoo! You go, honey!" Of course, that is not at all fair, and if there is any truth in it, it's due to my neurotic obsessive desire to control every part of my daughters' lives lest I am consumed with guilt at having overlooked anything. In truth, if I made a list of my own, my husband would have "Meter-out of discipline" and "Taker out of garbage" in his job description, as well as general handyman, mechanic, gardener, and all those other outdoor things. In fact, our division of labor falls pretty neatly into: anything outside the house=dad; anything inside=mom (not counting plumbing, electric, appliances, etc). Much like our respective genitalia (outside and inside, so to speak). As for soothing at night, he is assigned the older daughter, no matter the time, while I always get the younger. Interesting how these things work out, isn't it?

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare February 13, 2008 at 4:42 PM  

What a great "warm up" for a non-married person to read! I laughed, I cried....but most of all I learned that you and I are both very competitive and therefore should be on the same team when we have the chance (hopefully a game night soon?). And being a former jock (now gimp), I'm a firm believer in high-fives (and even headbutts if I've had a few drinks:-)
Hope to see you soon...(though not while you are inspecting red vaginas or giving blow jobs please..)

Rima February 13, 2008 at 5:18 PM  

Melissa, I couldn't agree with you more about your Team Parenting philosophy, but I I do believe you may have gotten the short end of the stick on tasks #4 and #8.

Lucy February 13, 2008 at 10:20 PM  

i like the new subtext, the friendship between you and DT!! your list made me laugh, as did her comment. why don't you live in the east so i can play too??

mimi of sexagenarian and the city,  February 13, 2008 at 10:24 PM  

brilliant designation of categories, melissa...

Michele February 14, 2008 at 6:46 AM  

Sadly, you've made me realize that I'm playing just about every role on the team. I think I might be doing way too much.

Melissa February 14, 2008 at 9:27 AM  

He, he! You guys are all so funny.

Bookdiva -- I LOL when you said "...much like our respective genitalia." I agree also with what you said about "neurotic obsessive control". It was a real battle for me (especially in the beginning) to "let" Michael do certain things and not micro-manage.

DT -- Yes, it is in the back of my mind that someday we will rock together on the same team (who knows what) and kick some major ass. I'm waiting for the day...

Rima -- (Number four, especially...)

Lucy -- DT is the one who got me blogging, and we always thought how interesting our blogs are when compared to one another. I'm glad you caught the subtext!

Mimi -- Of course there are more categories, but these are the ones that popped into my head. Plus, there is a little overlap, but mostly this is how it all falls in line.

Michele -- Here's a big high-five to you for all you do! And don't forget the most important part of running a team -- learning how to designate. :)

Dawn February 15, 2008 at 7:49 AM  

LOVED the post, especially the breakdown of jobs part.
Very nice. HH and I have been parenting for longer than we have been married but I think over all, we are rocking it as a team. Thanks for making me want to go High Five my teammate.
And I'll say it one last time, I am SO glad you are back.

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