In my experience, relationships inevitably catapult people into roles.
One person ends up being the passive player, the other the dominant.
One person the worrier, the other the cool as a cucumber, calm one.
You don’t necessarily choose your role, it just sort of happens since it is impossible for both people to play the same role…actually it’s probably possible, two passive aggressive worriers could be together, but would any of us really know? I think we’d all stay miles away. And the pairings of two dominant, mouthy, doers, again, I think any sane person would keep their distance.
So, we go through our lives, with our many different relationships, playing the roles that we have been given and for the most part accepted.
Way too much dancing around in getting to my point this morning.
In my relationship with Sean I am the worrier. I worry about the finances, I worry about the cleanliness of the floor, keeping the fridge filled with the right stuff, washing Briar’s cup, the carpet, etc. I definitely help the Magee family meet the worry quota. Sean does worry, but it’s about things like the safety of our wallets when we are in a big city, or that I walk on the side of the sidewalk away from traffic, or maintaining the appropriate air pressure in our tires.
We do pretty well for the most part. Every once in a while I make a futile attempt to buck the mantle of “worrier” from my annoyed shoulders. I’ll defy Sean to track and pay the Nimo bill each month so that he too will give a darn when there are 6 fans and the AC blowing throughout our house, and the dryer door adjar light illuminating the bathroom. (See, he gets annoyed sometimes when I tip toe behind him turning off appliances as he leaves the room. I don’t think we need air circulation when we aren’t there to enjoy it. He chooses to disagree.)
The other thing I do is implore him to understand the reasoning behind my seemingly mad behavior –
“Honey please take off your shoes,”
I say as I knee walk across the room to keep my shoes off the floor,
“Don’t you see that I am trying to keep Briar from crawling on whatever fecal matter, vagrant bile, and general nastiness we have picked up on the bottoms of our shoes?”
The cruel reality is that I often blur into some crazed housewife caricature. When I try to poke fun at one of Sean’s roles I sound like a total harridan- playful jabs morph into nasty rants, or so it begins to feel when he looks at me with a hurt expression. Then when I try to project the same hurt when he teases me about coupons or alerting a checker at the grocery store to an incorrect price it feels like I am being over-sensitive, and was the .55 really worth the 20 minutes at the checkstand? I try to twist it and laugh at myself, but what can I say, sometimes I just don’t want to admit that my worrying makes me ridiculous, just like, I might add, Sean doesn’t want to admit that some of his stuff makes him seem like a stereotypical burping, slovenly man.
There is more to us than the cartoony aspects of our “roles” damnit.
The other night I got such a treat when Sean made a suggestion that was totally absurd, but made with the best of intentions. See, he was trying to make a wallet friendly suggestion. Oh this is just too delicious! I am totally allowed to laugh at this, because it is the same sort of thing he unabashedly teases and ridicules me for! Hah!
My sister is coming to visit sometime in September. She really wants to spend some time at the lake. This is great, because Sean wants to do the same thing, but hasn’t really been able to say that this summer as there has been so much to do at Trampoline and at home. He has taken to planning the outing with great gusto, talking about the different islands that are available, things to do, etc. Last night he was thinking out loud about the trip and said,
“We may not be able to stay overnight, huh?”
And I agreed, thinking it might be too much trying to schlep all the different things and cope with the baby etc.
“What it we camped on shore and then just paddled out to an island to play? We could leave the food and supplies in the car so we wouldn’t have to hike around with them. We could set up the tent. Oh. Your sister won’t fit in the 2 man tent we have. Hmm.”
I thought we were going to arrive back at the plan of not staying overnight, but then the light bulb flashed on for Sean.
“She can sleep in the car!” he exclaimed with a look of incredible achievement and satisfaction.
“What?” I asked.
“Your sister. We can set her up in the car. Fold the seats down. It’ll be perfect!”
“What do you mean? She’ll sleep in the car?”
“Ya. We’ll be in the tent and she can be set up in the car.” he explained as if I were slow.
“You’re kidding right?” he looked at me totally bewildered, “I went to stay with my sister and her husband this summer. They took me to the lake and we camped. Well they camped, I was back in the parking lot in the car, ” that’ll be a great story I said. “She can’t stay in the car, that’s awful.”
“Well, I’m just trying to save us from spending $300 on a tent.”
I was so touched that he was being sensitive to my need to stay on a budget. This clearly demonstrated to me how ridiculous some of my cost trimming tactics must appear and that he loves me just the same, sometimes even more so. It may seem as if I am all alone in worrying sometimes, but now I know that Sean is with me. He may not cheer on my coupon clipping or my obsessive de-germing, but he trusts me to do it and silently appreciates it (sometimes). No one ever said he loved his roles all the time.
I suspect that my sister’s visit is going to ultimately have us buying either a tent or a kayak. Not expenses I had planned on, but in this world of opposing roles and complementary roles, there is the need for balance. For every time one person “wins” there must be another chance for the other person to “win”. I think so long as we don’t blame one another for the roles we have, we can learn to celebrate each other’s victories. I know I’ll have fun with a kayak or a tent, just like I know Sean will appreciate not lying on Glen Street scum when he’s watching the World Series.
No one said growing up was going to be glamorous, might as well try and make it humorous.