I tend to be an open book here, sharing with you everything from how I get annoyed at work and how I mourn to moments of bliss with my girls. The thing is, I let some pages stick together, preserving a part of my life as sacred. There are different reasons for doing it; to protect certain people, or to stay, as the politicians say, “on message,” and of course to keep the blog from being updated hourly with every bit of tedium of a working mom’s day.
Last night something happened that I think bears sharing, despite the way it will leave a person vulnerable and open to criticism, that person of course being me. It was an average day, nothing eventful to speak of other than the day being a Friday and the start of what I had hoped would be a great weekend. We had the whole thing mapped out, with Nana taking the girls for an overnight and the two of us plotting to rebuild the blasted porch rails, which had rotted despite being barely a few years old.
The sight of the mold or fungus or whatever fresh hell oozed out after each rainfall had begun to wear on me, erasing any sense of accomplishment from keeping the house clean or managing to get the girls dressed, fed, groomed and out the door on time. The rot stood as some sort of indictment, a failure as homeowner, mother, wife and more. Oh, how the rot had to go!
I talked with Sean around quarter past five and arranged to walk the girls down to his office. He was thrilled. The girls pushed their strollers along the streets of our neighborhood, happily pointing out squirrels and planes and chattering on about the state of the babies that rode along. When we met up with Sean he was energetic and happy. We headed for home.
Things quickly soured as the late afternoon heat took its toll, the girls begging to be held, abandoned strollers claiming one arm per parent, the girls the other. Nerves frazzled, backs strained and under-the-breath mutters cut, I snapped. Harsh words followed by rapid steps, I sped away with Fin on my chest and Ave in my arms. It was neither pretty nor mature.
Later, as it became clear that Sean’s short fuse and flagging energy were the result of a cold, I shifted. And do you think I shifted to caretaker and loving partner? No. Every negative feeling I had came rushing to the forefront, I was annoyed, snappish and angry. He kept asking me what was wrong as I stood seething, angrily scrubbing the sink. The longer I went without answering, the more it felt as if I were trying to dig my way out of sand, dry, slippery, impossible-to-stop-from-cascading-over-me sand.
My embarrassment over my emotions only served to fuel the fire. A stony silence fell over the house and in a hollow voice I told him how angry I was, “That I am sick?” he asked me incredulously. I had no choice but to answer, “Yes, I am.” So shallow, but I wanted a break. I wanted to know we would be going into the weekend as partners, instead I was preparing, with great resentment, to have to care for 4 people. My cheeks burned and I berated myself internally for what I was feeling. It wasn’t fair, even now as I type this my shame rages.
You see, he really was sick, but he also wanted the same things I did. He wanted to work together, repair the railings and have a weekend. No work, no one else’s agenda, just us. After a few rounds of futile discussion during which I couldn’t shake my annoyance he slipped away. I buried my nose in the girls, flipping through storybooks, cooing over Fin and delivering post-dinner slices of cheese. His absence gnawed at me and I wished I could hit start over and relive the walk, not storming off and not extending an icy silent treatment. My self-flagellating reverie was broken by banging.
“s dat? ‘s dat scary noise?” Avery asked with comically wide eyes.
“I’m not sure,” I replied, though I knew exactly what it was and waves of shame washed over me as the sound lifted my pout. He was outside tearing off the railing, his shirt drenched, his eyes puffy and red. Despite how juvenile I’d been and despite how shitty he felt, he was taking off the damn railings, being the bigger person to salvage the weekend.
It’s shame that has me writing this. Sean is a bigger person than I let on sometimes. Last night he did the kind of thing that keeps a marriage on track, he crossed the line, setting aside how and what he felt in order to do what he knew needed to happen to snap me out of my mood. I hope I get the chance to even the score soon, until then, I’m prying open one of those previously sticky pages and sharing with you how absolutely incredible he can be.
We all have times like this, where our selfishness gets the better of us and we can not stem the emotions even when we know they are unfair and irrational. The fact that you realized this and have genuine remorse and appreciate the steps he took is what really matters. You are right, he seems wonderful, but don't be so hard on yourself. You're only human after all.
You know what babe, you are just human. And I know how you feel because I am the one, more often than not, that needs to apologize first, but my stubbornness stops me from being the one to move on. So he comes in, he hugs first, he steps up even when it should be me. He is the peace keeper and I love him deeply because of it. I am learning, I am letting frustration go faster (sometimes)and I am saying sorry quicker. But you know sometimes we are all human and faulted. And we are lucky to have such amazing men. Sean, you're a keeper!
Oh, and one more thing. When ever people ask me how The Man and I have such a good marriage, I say that one of the most important thing is grace. Extending it and receiving it as needed without condemnation. (to an extent of course). I think you beautifully illustrated that here.
I was gonna say, "So, you're human after all . . . " but the others said it already. And I realize that saying "You're only human" doesn't make it any better. For we all feel that need to get beyond the things that trip us up as humans. You've taken a step by ripping open the pages and sharing. That makes you, dare I say, more than human? More than most of them anyway. While so many just trudge on and battle our affliction, you saw the bigger picture and came clean. Human, but awake. Alive. And willing to go beyond the typical responses that trip us up.
Man, it's early. I hope that makes sense . . .
I have only one kid, but I have felt that feeling, too: being angry that your husband is sick. It's twisted, I know. In addition, I feel jealous because when he's sick, he lies down and sleeps in bed all day, but when I'm sick, I still have to take care of our boy.
i understand this better than i'd care to admit. although i did just admit it, didn't i…
There is no shame in this, friend. This is marriage. Sometimes you give, sometimes you take. As long as you do a little bit of both, all is well in the end.
Mama, I have done the same thing. My Shawn is a big baby when he's sick and somehow the same illness that the rest of us suffered through is 50 times worse once it makes its way to him. I'm often resentful that I don't get to lay on the couch, having my every whim catered to, when I'm sick and he does. So the poor guy definitely gets little sympathy from me during the time he'd most like to be nurtured and taken care of. I'm a horrible caregiver. For him, anyway.
I admire your courage to share a part of yourself that you aren't proud of.
And I second what the others have said ~ that Sean, he's a keeper. I know you already know that, though.
I'm with everyone else – we all have days like this. Sharing shame doesn't make it less shameful, but perhaps it will help to know that you're not in this alone?
Here's my wish that you'll salvage this weekend and feel better about yourself (and your porch)!
P.S. – great husband. 🙂
all you can do is learn and move on. sean does sound amazing, but you are amazing too, and part of strong relationships is supporting each other when you slip a bit. he supported you when you slipped, but next time, it will reverse and you'll have your chance to help him back.
I like how Chaotic Joy put it in her second comment. It took me almost twelve years of marriage and two kids to realize that sometimes you just have to give a little more, without receiving.
For me, being able to involve myself in a task like removing a handrail is like taking a belt sander to the lumber that is a couple's communication. A little time and a little physical exertion can smooth out the burrs, wear down the raised grain. Sean may have been doing the same.
Oh gosh. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes I read your blogs and think that I'm a horrible human being because I'm no where near as nice as you.
Not that this isn't nice too…I'm sure you still were much more mature than I am when I'm disappointed or ticked about something.
But still, thank you.
It happens, doesn't it? We find ourselves angry and resentful and then realize we are being self centered and maybe less than kind? And realizing that – makes us even more angry? Yeah. It happens.
I'll bet as fabulous as Sean is – it happens to him sometimes too. He will forgive you – but you need to forgive yourself too. Like everyone has said – you're human.
OH girl, give yourself a break. We all have our limits. Having little kids at home, although delightful, is exhausting work. It's natural to feel bummed about your other half not being able to help out on the weekend that you look so forward to, just for that reason – at least I do anyway! And Sean, well he'll get over it. He sounds like a good guy. And don't sell yourself short, you're a great gal.
oh honey. the whole damn thing is give and take constantly. the fact that you care enough for contrition, that alone shows your beauty.
and the line about pages sticking together? i love that line. and i love you.
I have been there too andit is nice to know you are not alone.
What a great husband moment
I love that you wrote this post, because who among us can't identify with it, and yeah, we go there, and then we appreciate, and then we do better other times.
I feel ashamed of myself a lot when I think of how much more giving than me Aaron is.
I want to be better, every day.
yep. I know precisely how you feel and exactly how that happens. That anger that builds on frustration and annoyance and is so petty…yep, I know it well. Sometimes I think I just NEED to have those moments of slamming dishes and short, sharp responses; the spitting out of words and rolling of eyes. And then when it's over, it's just over and we can all move on.
Oh and getting mad at having a cold? Yeah, me too. Pathetic but true.
I'm sure you've done the same for him, too, because, like you said, these are the kinds of things that keep a marriage on track. We can't all be perfect all the time, you know? Hell, I can't manage near-perfect like, nine times out of ten. I just don't have it in me. You're doing a fantastic job, and you're a mom of THREE for pete's sake, and you need to ease up on yourself. We all need to ease up on ourselves.
that made me cry.
how sweet of a post- even the honesty we all tend to hesitate to share about your anger.. there is beauty in that.
it is real. and ya know- it is valid- and it sounds like your partner in life knows that too.
I don't think there *should* be shame in just admitting our anger and why we feel it- although it sucks when we end up venting it at another- it sounds like you were *angry* not angry with him.
when it comes to evening the score- sometimes just acknowledging the effort the other does to keep the marriage flowing happily along does exactly that-
i think your post says a lot!!!
I am embarraced because I might act this way and never think twice about it. I probably wouldn't apologize or admit guilt.
You are a bigger person thank me in that regard. I do know what you mean about being irritated to have to care for another person though. Totally relate to that one. Good for him for being such a trooper.
the best part is, your not alone. I can understand your perspective. thanks for sharing.
Raw and pure. Posts like this remind us all that we are human…prone to mistakes. 🙂
i'm really glad to have found you -your blog is exactly what i need these days.