Picking Your Battles
As I surveyed our bedding this morning, I had the same thought I always do: HOW? I am a pretty still sleeper – I can wake up in the exact same position where I fall asleep. My husband, on the other hand, sleeps like a rabid tornado in a washing machine. I have to completely deconstruct his side of the bed and most of the time he sleeps on top of the top sheet.
I got married at 32 and had my son a few months shy of 35, so I had a long time to independently make my own awesome and irritating habits. But it was fine, because it was just me and my dog and he never cared how I made the bed or washed the dishes. He just wants cuddles and walks.
Then you take two fully-formed, independent adults and say, “Hey! Get along forever and ever now and, by the way, you’re going to co-create another human and have to decide how to not kill it. BYE!”
And as you start to mesh these two lives together, you begin to realize you are not laid back. You lack any type of “chill” and then a cascade of self-doubt and second-guessing come flooding in. I want to do this my way but if I give in, am I a doormat? If I don’t let it go, am I a nag?
No one wants to turn into The Nag, but you can feel her percolating more and more. How many times do I have to ask him to rinse peanut butter off the knives before putting them in the dishwasher? So, you swallow it, but your jaw is tight.
And you can go on like that for a little while. You forget here and there why you were mad, you go for a walk, watch a rom-com by yourself. But then other things crop up that never occurred to you to make you angry. And you’re in danger of brushing the enamel off your teeth because it’s two minutes of your day when your mind gets quiet and you remember he left his boots on and walked all over your clean floors again!
The transition from neurotic single to saintly wife hasn’t happened yet, but a few things have eased the lack of “chill” in our house.
One, time goes by. We got accustomed to the way we both live and sort of eased into a togetherness from fierce independence. It’s sort of like organizing a kitchen in a new house – you have to use it for a few months to get a flow going. I never had a husband before. I had no idea what it would entail. It got easier.
Two, we had a baby. There’s no way to get over socks on the floor like having a barfing miniature version of yourself to take care of every waking second of the day. It’s hard to talk about having children and the way your life changes without sounding condescending or cliché, but oh boy does it ever change you. It changed me and it keeps changing me. Some days I just don’t have the mental capacity or energy to be upset. When your fitness tracker registers your sleep as “naps” then you know you’re tired.
Three, I remembered my husband isn’t my enemy. Didn’t I agree to marry him of my own volition? Didn’t we choose to have a child? Isn’t he the kind, handsome, funny person who knocked me off my feet? Despite his snoring, boot-wearing, wrong-dish-washing stuff he’s the person I choose to spend forever with.
When he lets the toddler have an extra snack, or leaves socks next to the laundry basket, or doesn’t sleep under the sheets I remind myself that there is a bigger picture involved here. I let it go and save the battle for another issue, if at all. He’s not doing these things to punish me. He’s just existing.
I took the top sheet off the bed. If millennials aren’t using them and it’s adding extra time to my chores for the day, then good riddance. The great part about being an adult is deciding which arbitrary things can just go away and replacing them with things that make sense for your own life.
I smothered The Nag with the top sheet today and it felt good. Plus, I’m pretty sure the Earth is still rotating.
About the Author
Former ballerina-bodybuilder-pilot-corporate communications flack who lives in the body of a stay-at-home-mom/Army wife. She comes from a long line of ball busters and bullshitters and is doing her best to pass along all her knowledge to her son. Lifelong hostage of Buffalo professional sports. A living embodiment of trying to pull up your pants and underwear at the same time but only your pants come up.