Monday, July 4, 2011

My Own Little World

On weekends, my husband likes to relax on the couch in front of the TV. He and the kids watch a variety of programs on Netflix Instant Watch: wacky anime series, MythBusters, PBS documentaries. He usually logs a number of hours playing his latest favorite XBOX 360 game, too.

I like to spend weekend outdoors, if at all possible. Ideally, I also like to churn through a list of projects, or at least knock one or two off the list.

Is it any wonder that I spent the first ten years of my marriage mad at my husband for not wanting to do what I wanted to do on weekends? And also a bit ticked off that both my kids preferred to sit inside with him, rather than join me outside?

Fortunately, this is Year 11, and I've wised up. I used to mourn that I had virtually no time to read. When I was single I had several hours a day to read, in addition to most evenings free. Young children cured that in no time. While I could recite "Goodnight Moon" from memory, my adult reading dwindled to almost nil. And over time, I got grumpy about it.

I got grumpy about all kinds of things during this time. I used to get cheesed off if there were toys scattered on the floor in the family room... if I had to unload the dishwasher... if one of the kids spilled a drink... if I had to go to the store for milk. I was a ton of fun. Didn't anyone else in my family realize that there was so much important work to do? 24 hours in a day wasn't nearly enough time. But I was going to try to do it anyway. And get grumpy in the process.

"If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I thought that eventually my husband would notice I wasn't happy and decide to change, thus making me happy. Instead, our relationship was strained by my near-constant foul mood. Not that anyone outside our home would have known it. I can put on a show with the best of them, especially at church. But finally, I knew that I had to let it go or ruin my marriage and our family. It took more than a year to well and truly stop wanting what I wasn't going to get: other people making me happy by doing everything the way I wanted. Things have gradually changed for the better, especially my moods.

Don't misunderstand, I still get grumpy from time to time. But it's so much less frequent. My household and personal standards are a shadow of their former selves. I came to realize that my standards were a way of feeling superior to other people: my house was cleaner than theirs, my kids had better manners and vocabularies than theirs, my spices were alphabetized in the lazy susan. Can you say Nutso-Mama? Now, if there are groceries for the day's meals and a few changes of clean clothes per family member, things are A-OK. And instead of trying to complete my to-do list every weekend, I usually spend most of the time reading, cooking or baking something new, or noodling around on the computer. I still spend lots of time outside if the weather is nice, and most of it by myself. The kids come out to "check" on me periodically and ask for a snack. My husband is happy indoors, blowing up bad guys in a video game. A mood of contentment reigns.

Another exciting benefit of this adjustment: I'm halfway to my goal of reading 50 books this year for the Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge! And I'm not reading "Goodnight Moon" 50 times.


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