Doing Something For Someone Else

imgres-4

For as long as I can remember I have found little satisfaction in cleaning the house. It is a job that involves a lot of hard work, very little appreciation, and with children who manage to undo what you spent hours doing in just 20 minutes, it has also been very discouraging. It’s a job that unless you announce that you cleaned around the toilet with an old toothbrush to get the “grime” not one soul is going to know about your sacrifice of digging into the yellow that has been left behind. It’s a job involving rubber gloves; a symbol of clean that sends shivers up my spine.

Now, this doesn’t mean my house looks like a pig sty…it doesn’t…but it also doesn’t look like something out of House Beautiful either. It looks like a family lives here only with a bass drum sitting in one corner of the living room and a set of bagpipes in the other.Our house looks like it is lived in by people of many ages with many different interests which is exactly who we are. Unfortunately, I am married to a man whose ideal life would be an immaculate house with a garage so clean that you could eat off the floor but he knows THATS never going to happen.

Because I am a stay at home mom, B expects some sort of order to this place we call home. Our ideas of clean are different. He does surface cleaning so that the house looks presentable, while when I clean, I go for the deep cleaning…hence the toothbrush mentioned above. This has led to problems over the years with both of us feeling resentful especially me when you tack on all the other things I do like shopping, paying bills, taking kids to the doctor and psychologist once a week, ferrying kids to lessons, gardening and a host of other things that appear out of no where and have to be done THAT day. I h.ated feeling like everyone’s maid and it showed.

But two months ago, after listening to B talk in therapy about the chaos he experienced as a child and how much his disorganized, dirty, and unkept house affected his psyche; I decided to try approaching cleaning with a new state of mind. Instead of cleaning out of an “I HAVE to do this” attitude, I decided to try and think about how happy B would be. I realized that for B, order and cleanliness makes him feel content, reduces his stress and makes him feel like he is loved. So I started trying to clean with him in mind knowing he would feel better about life if his life at home was organized and tidy. So while I am basically doing the same amount of work, with a new attitude it doesn’t seem quite so much like a thankless task or like complete drudgery. And I have noticed that this change has lightened B’s mood and he is now telling me on a daily basis how much he appreciates what I am doing.

Doing chores that I dislike really doesn’t provide a huge sense of accomplishment for me. But I have discovered that by doing something for someone else out of love elevates what I am doing to a new level. Knowing that B is comforted by a sense of order in our home is allowing me to put a positive spin on things that are more important to him than they are to me and to do them with a attitude that wasn’t there before. While I used to operate like that when we were first married, if I am honest, it has been a long time since I did things solely to please my husband just because he needed things a certain way for his own comfort. I am discovering to my own delight that doing something for someone just because you love them brings me immense satisfaction and I am reaping the benefits because of my change in attitude. ┬áJust don’t ask me to put on the yellow gloves.

Minimum Days

images-14Too Bad My Kids Don’t

All across my school district

I hear the mothers sigh

Another minimum day for the kids

Oh why…oh why… oh why?

If they are forced to wake them up

Before the birds do fly

Surely the district can keep them there

Until the afternoon arrives

But no you will bring your kids

For half a day at best

Then you will turn around and fetch them

While your house remains a mess

The usually quite afternoon

Becomes quite the verbal brawl

As kids run and out of the house

Poor mom, the referee of all

And so I would curse the district

This idea put into place

But I’m too tired and weary

As I run back and forth in haste

Treat Me Like Your Next Wife…340 Days to Fix This

url

It all started innocently enough. I had just put a load of laundry in the washer and wiped down the refrigerator while B was cleaning the counters in the kitchen. Then he moved to vacuuming the downstairs and I took the sheets he had folded into the upstairs closet. When I came downstairs I just casually mentioned that I would love to have another shelf in the linen closet because it would help keep things organized. This is something I have mentioned here and there for the past three years. And that is when the trouble began.

B immediately launched into an attack. “I already put in a new garbage disposal this weekend. You should be happy with that.”

“II am but you do have household responsibilities around here and you don’t just get to keep saying that you aren’t going to do them like you have been saying constantly for the past several years. You seem to have no trouble telling me what I need to do and I am still going to tell you what I would like to see done that I can’t do myself.”

Then B says that I needed to do home repairs like my BFF. “She does 90% of what needs to be done around the house. You should be able to do that too!”

OH NO….you really didn’t go THERE did you? Because if that is the way it goes…I lose…every time. You will always find someone more talented, competent, better with power tools, skinnier, funnier, prettier than me. There are millions of awesome women out there.

I then proceeded to say I shouldn’t have to do all those home repairs and that he has been neglecting this area including the bathroom light that he broke three years ago and has still not replaced.

“Well, you should have gotten the globe.”

“I did and it didn’t fit. Frankly, if you broke it it should be up to you to fix it not me!”

B then proceeded to tell me how he had vacuumed the downstairs this morning and did the dishes.

And then we went to church. And I seethed throughout the service and asked for clarity and forgiveness which just didn’t happen. Because here is the thing:

  1. Treat me like you would your new wife. If she asked you for a new shelf it would be done within the first hour. Treating me with all the love, kindness, respect and compassion you would show your new wife is the least you can and should do.
  2. Stop bringing up what you just did around the house. If you truly don’t resent it like you claim, then you would just do whatever it is you have chosen to do without me having to make a big deal about it. Stop making me feel like I have to bow down to you and be eternally grateful. Frankly, you chose to do our kid’s jobs and that was your choice so don’t be upset about it.
  3. Stop comparing me to other women. I have NEVER, EVER, NOT ONCE in our 29 years of marriage compared you to another man. Research shows that making comparisons like that help to kill a marriage. Please stop. It is a game I will NEVER be able to win.

Later B walked in the door with a new light. I cried because I was so happy that he actually listened to me and was thoughtful enough to do something that would make me happy.

ROUND TWO

And then he opened his mouth and said,”Well, I am doing this because you ordered me to.”

WHATTTTTTT?

No, I only mentioned that you had not replaced the light in three years. I didn’t order you do to anything.

Later when we could talk rationally, I was amazed at the truly different versions of this story each of us believed. How could two people in the same room have such dramatically opposed impressions of the same event? I have no clue. But I do know this…I love B and he loves me and somehow (I don’t know how) we will make it through this. We have 29 years behind us and 6 kids depending on it.