One of the Ashleigh Brilliant books that I own is called “All I want is a warm bed, a kind word and unlimited power”. It’s a kind of glib statement and its meant to be humerous but I think its also true enough for the most part, at least for some of us. And the value of a kind word should not be underrated…
I was thinking about this recently because one day last week, I did not have a good day. It wasn’t an especially bad day on the whole but a number of things kind of snuck up on me till they were all right behind me and ready to bash me over the head at the same time. I didn’t enjoy that. So this turned into a day that I was “not ok”. The majority of the time though, just so as you know, I really am ok. Sometimes I have enough sleep and I feel positively empowered and like I can accomplish anything. I even start to wonder how hard can this parenting gig really be…(and right about now, every parent who could see me write that would think I’m an idiot). I know it won’t be easy but what I’m trying to say is that there are times when I’m really optimistic (as opposed to slightly more realistic). So don’t think I’m covering up for lots of days like I had last week or hiding them from you because I’m not.
That day though, I just lost it. As you may recall it was not in the getting mad, throwing a tanty and channelling a fishwife kind of way. It was more in the way that you finally realise that you are trying to push shit uphill. And no matter how good a shit-pusher you are, this action is incredibly inconvenient and you inevitably come to the conclusion that you don’t in fact have all your shit together. Which is just plain depressing. Its also partly why I spent 15 minutes on the kitchen floor in tears the minute you went out the door. Now I’m not trying to get you to feel bad or to have a go at you or even make out that you’re a bad husband (though this may unfortunately be exactly what it feels like to you). I’m just trying to say that this happens in marriages and sometimes I need a little TLC too.
There are a lot of things that I can deal with when I’m on top of everything. I understand that you may not want to talk about your day as soon as you pick me up. That sometimes it may have been “shit” and you don’t feel the need to relive it as soon as you see me. I usually know what your café shifts are ahead of time so its hardly surprising when I don’t have access to the car whilst you’re working. I’m also aware that for a person who loves good food, you can be remarkably unconcerned about where your next meal is coming from and therefore even less concerned about the origin of my next meal. That day last week though, I just wasn’t coping. Or accommodating.
There was no warm greeting when you picked me up and I got the impression that my trying to be over-cheerful in compensation was just irritating. When we got home, I walked in the door and everything was just as I had left it that morning. Which was hardly unusual of course, yet the volume of day to day tasks (like the washing up) on top of the baby preparation tasks (like clearing space) has been starting to stress me out as we are draw ever nearer to “B” day. Not that we know when the actual birth day will be of course but we are clearly moving towards it and there is an end point at which we won’t be allowed to just wait it out any longer. Then as you were gathering together the last things you needed for your cafe shift, I realised that there was nothing that would qualify as dinner for either myself or the puppy and not much more that could even be considered a snack for either of us. When I pointed this out, you seemed remarkably put out that you would need to go to the shops and back before going to work since you would be taking my means of transport required to reasonably fend for myself.
I wasn’t angry though, or irritated. I wasn’t feeling indignant or resentful. I was upset and I was hurt. Despite the fact that I know for a fact that it was never your intention, I let myself feel crushed as though you didn’t care enough to spare a thought for me in your day. As though it didn’t matter whether I could eat dinner or not, whether I was happy or sad or whether I needed help. You had something more interesting to do than think about me. You even seemed to have more good cheer and concern when you spoke to the dog than when you spoke to me. Unlike the dog perhaps, I was no doubt expected to understand if you were not congenial and to make allowances. I wasn’t worth your extra effort. Or at least it wasn’t really necessary with me. If I had seemed a little put out, I was bound to just get over it and there wasn’t much point expending additional energy right then to do anything about it.
Now I know that this was unfair. I expected you to know things I hadn’t told you. It was also at least a little self-pitying on my part because I honestly believe that you never meant to hurt me or ignore me or take me for granted. And like I said, I am not trying to make you feel bad or attack you by writing this. I’m trying to let you know that sometimes, a kind word will go a long way. I’m trying to remind both of us that sometimes, we still need to work on our communication with each other. I’m also trying make a note to myself that sometimes, a bad day is just a day. When I have a good day, and there are good days, nothing is that terrible. When I have a bad day, even if its right beside another bad day, its still just a day. No matter how awful things look at the time, they will get better. They will get easier. I will cope and we will get past it. Preferably together. Because that will be easier.
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at the Medieval Fayre this year