Monday, March 12, 2012

The Blame Game

Please tell me why there is an epidemic of husbands who go out of their way to do some really incredibly helpful things around the house (which we of course express our appreciation for) and then become total monsters demanding recognition for their contributions and/or suddenly crowning themselves Kings of Clean? Said Kings then rule their unwitting subjects with overly controlling innuendos and hypercritical, inaccurate declarations.

Um, excuse me? Did you forget who cooked the meal you ate tonight? Did you forget who suffered through our oldest child's foul after school antics and homework avoidance tantrum techniques? Who made school lunches today or made sure the school uniforms were washed and dried for this morning? In what parallel universe are you suddenly the only one who contributes?

Ah, The Blame Game strikes again. It's so easy to get sucked into this vortex of conflict where the board looks something like the game of Life and the playing pieces look like four kids, two jobs, tons of laundry, tired cranky tantrums, Cub Scout meetings, Daylight Savings Time, a pile of Trio blocks, and a huge chunk of paychecks that may as well be made out directly to the grocery store when it's all said and done.

It's life, and we play dual roles in it. On the one hand, we are spouses, and on the other hand, we are parents. Sometimes these two roles work together in perfect harmony, and you can ride the wave of peace and fulfillment like a boogie boarder showing off his effortless moves. Other times, the roles are not only competing, but they're just downright conflicting. If I give my best to the kids right now to ensure everything gets done in time to get them in bed early, then I can't clean as much, and all of my husband's efforts this weekend are harder to see. However, if I pay a little less attention to my kids, delay baths and bedtime so that I can sweep the floor and pick up the playroom, the kids get in bed later and continue the vicious cycle of DST induced crankiness.

The effort to stop pointing fingers and work as partners is harder to do when the adults in this whole game are also tired, stressed about work, and feeling like the road to a good night's sleep looks long and bumpy. Thus the volcano erupts, and we experience infuriating frustration and a stubborn unwillingness to see where the other person is coming from.

Neither partner in our little union is perfect. I'm emotional and passionate and borderline, sometimes across the borderline, controlling. I will let you know exactly how I'm feeling when I'm feeling it and not always in the most calm, rational way I would like to. Sometimes I fight like a little redneck girl, but I'll always come to a resolution as humbly and apologetic as I can. I think the trick in a marriage is understanding how the other person communicates and trying our best to figure out how to mesh our own methods with another's. Sometimes we need to meet in the middle, and sometimes we just need to try out another person's tactic, despite how foreign it may feel.

Tonight I've got three babies fed and bathed and ready to crawl under the covers. My hope is to accomplish the goal of getting them into bed early AND sweeping the floor, maybe even before my partner in crime gets home from Cub Scouts with the fourth dirty and cranky kid. The good thing we have going in our marriage is that even though no one on the planet can make me as angry as he does, there is also no one else on this planet who touches my heart the way he does. Understanding that little tidbit brings me joy even in my anger. For that, Jason Jones, you can be King of Clean just for today.

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