I called him at 5 pm to ask what he wanted for dinner.
Our daughter has finally realized that the iPhone is much more than a YouTube device. She’s discovered she can reach her dad when he’s at work now, she loves FaceTime, and she misses him. Every bump and bruise, meltdown, and accomplishment is now an excuse to wail, “I need to call Daddy,” until I relent.
I hit his name on the screen while I stood in the kitchen.
He answered–still in business mode, a little brusque with a touch of, “what the fuck now, dear?”
“Hey babe, what do you want for dinner?”
“Don’t worry about me, I have to work late, so I’ll just have a sandwich or something. Eat without me.”
“Nothing, it’s fine, I gotta go, talk to you later, love you, bye.”
“Are you sure?”
Screaming gets louder in the background.
“Yes, of course, sorry you have to work late, be careful, see you when you get home.”
I wasn’t sighing about him working late, I was sighing because my daughter has been moody and easily set off lately by the slightest provocation.
I don’t even remember what it was that time.
It could have been because she wanted to take a bath, or didn’t want to take a bath, or the dog was standing too close to her, or she’d dropped her snack on the floor again and Frankie was cheerfully cleaning up after her like he always does.
Or in her mind, STEALING MY FOOD, NO FRANKIE!!!!!! That dirty floor snack is MIIIIINNNNNE!
She’s a ball of unpredictable emotion lately, and she’s still working through how to handle her frustrations.
Hahaha, so am I.
Usually I can maintain something close to patience but the day had tested me with:
- No nap.
- Meltdown in the library.
- An email from our realtor saying that someone had pulled a Craigslist scam using my husband’s name and our MLS listing to try to convince a single mother of two into “renting” our old house. It was an elaborate scheme and he’d almost convinced this woman to send him the first month’s rent and deposit via Western Union without ever seeing the inside of the house. $1,600. The emails and text messages broke my heart, and I was disgusted, feeling violated and feeling sorry for this woman who was clearly just trying to give her children a better home. Fuck people like this, and fuck Craigslist.
- Feeling sick, and popping allergy pills and huffing nose spray.
It was just one of those days where you watch the clock for bedtime, and feel nothing but relief as you place your spawn into their bed and finally close the door and turn off the light for the night.
When my husband did finally walk in, it was after 8pm. I was sitting on the couch in the living room, with the television off, coffee cup full of hot Theraflu in my hands, silent, because that’s how I cope.
I didn’t get up, but I waved over the back of the couch and said, “Hi.”
That was probably my first mistake.
An unenthusiastic hello, and the baby already in bed is probably not his favorite greeting after a 13 hour day.
I know this, and I’m usually better about getting off my ass to say hello at least.
There’s no way he could have known that an hour before, I’d been viciously head butted while our daughter “helped” me cook eggs and bacon for my dinner. Excited to be climbing the step-ladder to scramble the eggs, she jumped as hard as she could right as I leaned over her to help her climb up. As her head hit my jaw, I slumped to the floor in pain and effort at controlling my foul mouth and we both recoiled with tears in our eyes.
Another round of, “I need to call daddy.”
Because you smashed your head into my face?
Not this time little girl.
So I sat in a parenting PTSD stance, staring at the wall and rocking back and forth a little.
He went into the bedroom to change into comfy clothes, and walked back into the living room.
Then he stopped behind the couch, looked down at me and said, “So, uh, you’re not in trouble or anything, but just one request.”
I bristled immediately and thought:
What, What?! WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK DID I DO NOW?
Another reason I’m glad we can’t read each other’s thoughts. My first internal reaction is always wrong and always selfish.
“Can you please not leave your razor on the shower floor?”
“I’m not mad, sheesh, I’m just not always awake when I get in there in the morning, and I don’t want to step on it.”
“Yeah, okay, I get it. Sorry.”
I’m not sorry, I’m annoyed, but I’m not in the mood to defend myself.
The air is full of hostility, but I stay quiet.
I do shit like that all the time. I forget to pick up my razor, I forget to hang the towels straight so they’ll dry, I forget to put the pill bottle lids on tightly and when he grabs the allergy pills from the top, the lid flies off and they scatter everywhere. I load the dishwasher wrong. I put rosemary in the pot roast, and he thinks rosemary tastes like sticks.
I forget and he gently reminds me.
It’s kind of our thing.
He turns on the television, makes a sandwich, and I finish my Theraflu.
He opens a bag of kettle chips, and the sound of his chewing annoys me.
My friend texts to see if I went to book club.
Nope, I completely forgot it was Wednesday.
But gradually the air clears, and we move on to safer topics.
I ask him about his day, and he asks about mine, and communication soothes my frayed nerves. As we begin to understand a little more about how our separate days went, we both soften considerably, and the razor talk and timing is easily forgotten.
As we climb into bed, the animosity is gone–he turns on the television, and I pick up my book, and I roll over and tell him goodnight, and that I love him.
And I do.
His request was reasonable.
Pick up the razor. Check. I’ll try to remember, you know I’ll forget again because that’s me, but I will try.
It’s these little annoyances that can chip away at a marriage though.
Annoyance morphs into resentment.
Resentment is acid that corrodes the intimacy and connection in your relationship.
I want him to tell me these things rather than being pissed at me every time he gets in the shower.
The razor wasn’t worth fighting about, so we didn’t.
But I almost did, and replaying it in my head, I think that just means we’re still okay.
Honey, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry your timing really sucks and for the nasty things I thought at you last night.
I love you, and I picked up my razor today.