Thorns From My Husband

Last week I came up with an idea for a post I wanted to write about the irritating statements my husband makes.  It’s incredible how a short concoctions of words can send me into a whirlwind of irrational, over-emotional turmoil.

I cleaned up.

I have a surprise for you.

Are you feeling better yet?

These are just three examples of phrases I hear from him which begin a cycle of madness in my mind, how to react, what to say next, what does this mean, etc…  It sounds insane, right?  Those three statements appear to be so innocent, even thoughtful perhaps.  Well lemme just fill you in on the context with which these endearing words are uttered.

First, speaking of cleaning up is generally stated because it would be entirely impossible to know otherwise any cleaning had taken place.  I’m guessing the majority of women can relate to being the cleaner one of their couple set, with the exception of my friend Crystal.  Crystal and her husband, Buck, are equally anal about their cleaning.  I would give a sliver of an edge to Crystal since she recently had lasik eye surgery and swears she can see the cobwebs on her ceiling I could not find with binoculars.

Unless your relationship is like Crystal and Buck or by some freak chance your partner is a better housekeeper, you can relate.  For example, a few weeks ago my daughter and I went up north and left my husband with the house to himself for three days.  Upon returning home I noticed additional clutter and a distinct odor.  Maybe my facial expression gave away my disgust even though I had already anticipated needing to clean when I got home.  “I cleaned up.”  He said.

And this is where my mind begins stirring – What did he clean?  And if he cleaned how bad did the house get over the weekend?  Do I praise him to encourage this behavior or would this demonstrate complacency with a lack of effort?  “OK, thanks.”  I mutter heading to the broom closet.  Maybe I should just be thankful he didn’t wipe out the Tupperware collection like my dad did when my mom went out of town one weekend in an effort to be helpful.

When my husband tells me he has a surprise, naturally I want to feel excited.  He tends to spring this on me rather often because he enjoys watching me squirm about it.  Instead of excitement in the anticipation, I find myself being bothered with trying to imagine what it could be.  There have been times I imagined some rather fantastic surprises, special dates and lavish gifts to come home to find my favorite juice in the fridge “SURPRISE.”  Now rather than creating a spectacular surprise in my mind I try not to even remember he spoke the word so I cannot be disappointed.  He is rather thoughtful and talented with his ideas, I just wish they came without the preemptive news flash to warn it’s coming.

And finally the questions “Are you feeling better yet.”  This is not a sincere curiosity of if I am under the weather.  This question is directed at me when he thinks I am upset with him for no good reason.  It seems like a stab at my perspective in a disagreement, as if I had no reason to be bitter towards him.  As if the whole disagreement was related to my mood rather then something he contributed to.  “Are you feeling better yet,” can almost always lengthen the duration of my anger about a situation and on the rare occasion I wasn’t upset this statement can just as easily put me there.

So…  Like I said, I intended to post about these phrases and end it there.  Except earlier this week I caught up with an episode of Super Soul Sunday when Oprah interviewed the author Michael Singer.  He wrote The Untethered Soul about finding inner peace and strength.  The following clip is a segment out of the show directly related to the issues I have had with things my husband says.

I haven’t read the book, though, now I know I need to.  There are many thorns I have with people and being irritated by what is said.  Seeing this part of the interview I recognized I have been making the choice to be disturbed.  I understand for the rest of my life I could be having internal conflicts about what to say when he mentions cleaning, no matter how many times I say “Don’t surprise me,” there will likely be another surprise, and the question of feeling better yet will probably not be put to rest either.  So damn Super Soul Sunday – to point out my wasted energy on waiting for others to change around me.  It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, joking or flat out disrespectful – it’s my own thorn.  Next time I get the sensation of being bothered, my hands sweat, my thoughts turn to irrational questioning, my shoulders tighten and I’m ready to react… I will practice making the choice not to be disturbed.  Growth is hard and no one else can do it for me.

Daddy & Daughter Demands

My daughter is becoming fiercely independent.  Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life.  Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others.  She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer…  years from now.

Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle.  My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.

I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.”  Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.

Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind.  “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.”  When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help.  One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them.  When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.

I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible.  I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes.  Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes.  I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right…  Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.

Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age?  This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long?  When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it?  (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.)  The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?”  See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.

There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums.  With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.

And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast.  I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow.  Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.