Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's such a little thing...

We have a problem at our house. Actually,we have a lot of problems that all make one big problem but I'm just going to focus on ONE problem today. I'll give you a little background if you haven't heard before...

We are a family of five (mom, dad, 5 y/o, 3 y/o, and 10 mo) that live in a small, 725 sq ft apartment. This would probably be OK, but not necessarily preferable, if the mom (me) and dad (DH) had not BOTH been the roommates "with all the stuff" when we got married. We had two couches, two arm chairs, two kitchen tables, and a rocking chair. Three crockpots. Two rice cookers (and we received a third as a wedding present). You get the idea. :) So we've spent the last 6.5 years getting rid of just-enough-stuff so that we can still live a crammed life in this tiny apartment (did I mention neither one of us have an easy time getting rid of "stuff"?). Anyhow, we have lots of stuff.

I'm realizing that this really, really negatively impacts our mental health, and I work really hard to keep up with the little things -- like dishes and dirty clothes -- but that leaves a lot of room for all the other messes to proliferate. Right now Dallas (the 10 month old) screams for an hour or two at a time in the middle of the night so it is not the time to put him in the bedroom with the older two kids. He sleeps in the living room, which is open to the kitchen. The other night DH cooked up a pizza, put it on the cutting board, and brought it to our room to eat when I put Dallas to bed in the living room. No big deal, right?

Three days later, where do you think the cutting board was?

That's right. NOT washed. Not even in the kitchen. It was over on top of the dirty clothes basket in our room, *naturally*! That is exactly where *I* put dirty dishes TO BE WASHED. Right next to the dirty clothes to be washed. I mean, it makes perfect sense to me!

I don't really remember how long it stayed there -- because I sure as heck was not going to move it -- but it was definitely three days, maybe five or six. After which time, it migrated! It moved to the kitchen, where it magically (wait for it people!!) SAT UNWASHED for another five days.

By this time, I'm mad. I'm angry. There is no "yes mom" woman to be found anywhere. I long ago decided I was going to just wait and see how long it took before my husband washed it. And one day as I'm fuming about how inconvenient it is that the very largest of our cutting boards is dirty, unusable, and taking up valuable kitchen counter space, I thought to myself "It's such a little thing, I can't understand why he doesn't just clean up after himself!" And it all went downhill from there, you know how your mind jumps from one thing to the next to the next and all of a sudden we're getting a divorce (in my head) because he won't wash his cutting board!

Needless to say this habit of mine is totally unhealthy. So it's a good thing that I had a startling revelation. If it's such a "little thing" to wash his cutting board, why couldn't I do it for him? Why couldn't I remind him to wash his own cutting board? In fairness, his claim about why he doesn't often wash his dishes is that he doesn't realize he has left them. This is completely unimaginable to me because I don't know what he thinks he eats his food off of, but it's his excuse nonetheless. And he also claims that if I would remind -- or even ask -- him to wash his dishes, he would be happy to do it.

But the thing is, I don't WANT to remind him. I spend all day long telling (making) three little people do my bidding, behave, and grow into responsible people (who will sure as heck wash their own dishes and throw out their own trash!) and I don't want to add him to my list of children; I want him to be my husband.

So, what happened? I washed the dumb cutting board. I threw away his trash. I washed his pan he cooked his eggs in. If it's such a "small thing" why can't I just do it for him?

How 'bout you? How do you show love to your mate and kids? Do you have to struggle first (like me??) before you do what you don't "have" to do to love them?

Go love someone today.


Leah said...

Oh my goodness! This was me about 3 years ago! I got so upset about his clothes being one place, his dishes from last weekend's breakfast being another place. We eventually came to the agreement that if I cooked, he cleaned dishes. He would go days, almost a whole week, with the dishes piling high. It drove me bananas! I don't even like one dirty dish to be in the sink! But, I had to let it go! He knows it kills me, but it never worked to nag him about it, I just had to not let it bother me anymore. Or, I can do it. It's a struggle to deal with at times, but he knows that by me not saying anything, I'm letting go. And it's also a very Biblical principle that is so hard to live by. I was put on this earth by God to serve my husband. It's a hard thing to come to terms with, but it is what it is! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I totally clean up after my guys. When Hubby was at the academy I actually MISSED cleaning up after him... weird I know.

Just this morning I picked up his popcorn mess that was somehow spread all over the kitchen, put his dirty underwear in the dirty laundry (they were in a heap on the bathroom floor) picked up his wet towel from the bed and hung it in the bathroom, and as I look around our place I see that I now need to pick up after my two boys... papers and books EVERYWHERE.

BUT I'm a stay at home mom and have been told by Hubby that my "job" is to do these things. I just tell him, he's lucky I LOVE him so much ;)