The chaos of dinner has transitioned to a frenzy for dessert, and the kids are busy raiding the treat box while I’m wiping off counters and loading the dishwasher. Within minutes a child is sitting at the dining table carefully dissecting a bite-size Twix bar on a plate with two toothpicks.
From a distance I watch as she cautiously scrapes the milk chocolate shell from the candy bar’s surface, revealing a sticky caramel layer. The surgery has just begun and I can tell she’s nowhere near done. My eyes begin to bulge as I’m taking all of this in and feelings of annoyance creep over my body. I don’t know if I can take it any longer.
I feel the need to call off the science experiment and pronto. Why is she doing that? Why can’t she just eat the freaking candy bar in one piece like a normal human being?
My husband and I are going through boxes from his mom’s attic. All sorts of “goodies” that she graciously kept for him over the years of growing up. Now that they are our responsibility, we are sifting through each container, making sure to only keep what is most important. I’m enjoying a great sense of satisfaction as we begin filling a donate bag until I notice he is no longer handing me anything.
Kevin’s attention is focused on a box filled with plastic cups, collectible Diamondbacks cups, from the World Series, and there are stacks of them. Our work suddenly comes to a standstill as he stops to reminisce with each individual cup. I stand there, a bag in one hand, the other still reaching outward. I grow a tad impatient waiting for him to hand me the cups so I can send them out of our home and to the nearest thrift store. We both know our 1000 square foot home has no room for excess clutter. I wait, and wait some more, and then I begin studying his face hoping to extract his intentions in regards to the plastic memorabilia.
“He’s not thinking about keeping these, is he?” “They are cups, old cups, we don’t need more cups, we have lots of cups!” Words are exchanged, and Kevin seems to be leaning towards keeping some. I don’t know if I can go along with it. Why does he want to keep them? They are cups!
I’m getting ready to take a shower and putting on my makeshift head wrap to keep my hair from getting wet or frizzy. One perk of having fine hair is only needing to wash it every three days and this has been my go-to trick. Kevin walks by and for the first time witnesses my hair wrapped up in a random blue t-shirt, tied back in a rubber band. I look like a real life Marge Simpson. He chuckles a bit and begins making comments about my wanna be headwrap. I suddenly feel self-conscience and a tad defensive, but I smile at him, give him a friendly punch to the arm and respond, “It’s not about you.”
After all, I was right, it wasn’t about him. It was about me doing the little day to day things that make me, me, and at the time, that meant a makeshift headdress for the shower.
Those four simple words helped me realize how easy it is to go throughout the day making the little things that other people do about me, and consequently a problem.
Morning after morning of the kids leaving their powdery oatmeal wrappers on the counter after breakfast, or the fingernail graveyard I find under the driver seat after my husband has driven the minivan. The way he tends to load the dishwasher and washes dishes with the exception of a few left in the sink.
The jacket he wears to school every day along with his one pair of favorite shoes even though I bought him several pairs to choose from. The front mini ponytail hair she does that resembles a unicorn, and the times I go in for a high five and she touches my hand with just her pointer finger. The clogged toilets when they use way too much toilet paper and drenched grass covered shoes that spent the night on the lawn. When they track in chicken poop and mud on their feet after telling them a hundred times to wear shoes when they go outside, and the occasional apple in the fruit basket that has a few bites taken out of it.
None of it is about me, none of it is even a problem, and yet it’s so easy to forget. I’m calling for a cease and desist letter, I’m threatening screen time and dessert unless of course, I happen to fall under the magnifying glass.
When Kevin is greeted by a “fuzzy buddy” in the shower drain the umpteenth time, I’m embarrassed and usually claim that it’s just a momento so he doesn’t forget about me while he’s in there. Well, it’s really about my occasional forgetfulness. Or when he’s getting dressed on Sunday morning only to find crinkled church shirts that have been sitting in a pile of clean laundry for a week. It’s easy to say “I was busy,” but in truth, it’s more about my lifelong disdain for ironing anything and the fact that I’m ok with letting the laundry go sometimes (AKA almost all the time).
When there are craft containers strewn across several rooms throughout the week while I’ve been working on a project, I’d like to assume that I am using wisdom in leaving them out, but it’s because I’m too lazy to want to put it all away just to get it out again later. Until the day I die, I will continue to blame the dishwasher when my patient husband is re-washing bowls that are crusted with cereal and oatmeal. Deep down we all know it’s because I didn’t rinse them well enough before putting them in. I admit I have unrealistically high expectations of the machine. I think it should efficiently wash the blasted bowls because it’s called a DISHWASHER, not a dishwasher-after-you-wash-them-first. It’s obviously become one of my things.
If it’s six o’clock and I have absolutely no plans for dinner after losing motivation, or when we get a brand new shiny new hubcap for our decade old minivan and I forget to finish installing it, causing it to fall off and shatter in the middle of the road. Yes, it is really about me. Perfectly imperfect me.
Truth is, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t foster some odd habits and neither would any of my amazing loved ones. It’s what makes them unique because we aren’t clones after all.
It’s those little things, those can’t-help-but-roll-your-eyes-and-sigh things we all do that make up a small part of who we are. The habits that make the kids kids, moms moms, dads dads, and humans human. The gripes we so happily gather in our mental basket and serve liberally when we’re out with friends. We offer these circumstances as if they are evidence that our life’s plans have gone awry when really they’re proof we’ve got the exact thing we’ve always wanted: A real life, with real annoyingly dynamic people in it.
In truth, these tiny details that drive us nuts at times will one day bring a smile to our face, years from now when it’s no longer a part of our everyday life, and new just as annoying habits will immediately take their place. When I wish these things to stop or be molded into the way I’d prefer, I try to remind myself that it’s good that they are part of the present. We just wouldn’t be the same without them. Our oddities and quirks are in a way quite wonderful because they aren’t about anyone else but us.