I had made a rare decision to go to bed with dishes still in the sink. It was a Saturday night, I was tired, we had to be up early the next morning, and frankly, I just didn’t feel up to the task. So I told my anxiety to take a hike, and I went into my bedroom to change into my pajamas and hit the hay. Just as my head hit the pillow, I heard the kitchen sink running and plates being clanked around in the dishwasher.
My husband is doing the dishes, I thought.
Sounds like a happy thought, right? One that would make me grateful to have such a helpful partner. He doesn’t wait for me to do things; he sees what needs to be done and takes action. And I wish I could say that’s what I was thinking, but sadly the complete opposite was running through my head.
Ugh. He’s not going to load the dishwasher right. There will be weird stuff in the silverware tray. The big bowl will be on top. He’s not going to rinse the dishes first before putting them in. I’m just going to have to do it over in the morning. Why can’t he just leave it alone?
In case anyone is wondering, I will not be winning any Wife of the Year awards in the near future.
As the stay-at-home mom, the woman who runs the show, the resident control freak, letting things be done any other way but mine is a struggle of epic proportions. I do everything around here so obviously my way is the right way, and if you’re not going to do it my way then why do it at all, right?
Sigh. So, so, so wrong.
Rather than appreciate my husband stepping up to help out, or admiring my children for doing chores without asking, I instead follow them around like a yapping puppy dog, squawking about the “right” way to do things and then re-doing their work as soon as they’re out of sight. And that’s not helping anyone — including myself because I am exhausted and I do need the support.
At its core, hovering over them is merely teaching them that what they do isn’t good enough so why should they even try? I don’t want anyone in my home to feel less-than. I want those who live under my roof to feel good about themselves at all times and berating them for folding the towels incorrectly isn’t doing anyone any favors. It’s hurting them and heightening my frustration, and no one in this house is happy.
I can’t get frustrated when it feels like I’m the only one who does anything around here and get pissed off when they do help out but don’t achieve my individual standards. That road doesn’t go both ways.
After that night where I was an ungrateful jackass when my husband did the dishes, I woke up the next morning and decided to start appreciating the little and big things everyone in my family does. If my daughter took out the trash in the bathroom but missed a toilet paper roll, I focused on what she did do instead of what she didn’t. When my son wanted to vacuum the couch cushions, and it took him approximately eight years instead of eight seconds, I showered him with praise because he wanted to help, and I want to reward that behavior — even if it makes my eye twitch.
And the next time my husband did the dishes, I bit my tongue and said a prayer of gratitude that he was in the kitchen while I was in the recliner with a cup of tea and one of my shows on the TV.
This house isn’t any happier when things are done my way or the highway. This house is happier when everyone pitches in, and I genuinely appreciate their efforts. So I am making a conscious effort to stop hovering, to stop micromanaging. They may never get the floors as clean as I do, but they try, and that’s all that matters.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy