Friday, November 7, 2008

Love and Laundry

Five months after my diagnosis, I’m still not feeling that well physically. I’m also starting to get pretty overwhelmed at the thought of attempting to survive a law school exam period in my present condition. I’ve been growing more and more frustrated by the unchanging situation and that makes me quick and easy to annoy. Things that I used to be able to shake off now make me seriously grumpy. And, unfortunately, I’ve found myself directing most (if not all) of that uncontrollable grumpiness towards APL.

Now, it’s not that APL hasn’t done anything to invoke my annoyance. Trust me, he has. But because I’m so on edge about everything else, the problem is that I seem to get really grumpy really fast. And that only annoys me more because I can’t even seem to control my own feelings anymore.

Take the laundry example. APL and I used to argue a lot about the best way to get household chores done. He and I approach the concept of chores quite differently: me with the over-obsessive efficiency of a law student, and he in a totally lackadaisical fashion since he is the mellowest person you’ve ever met. We also have really different levels of tolerance for messes: for me the more stressed I am the messier everything looks, and, as the mellowest person you’ve ever met, you can imagine messes don’t really bother APL. This results in very different housework techniques: if I see a mess I clean it up right then, but if he sees a mess he thinks, oh, I’ll do it later. Or he might not even notice the mess in the first place. So by the time he might have possibly remembered to do something about the mess, I’ve usually already gotten annoyed and done it myself, which used to leave me with the feeling that I did all the chores with no help from APL.

So, this summer we sat down and talked about the best way to deal with both of our approaches towards housework. In the end we decided that the major problems were the kitchen and the laundry. To accommodate both our styles, we made a deal that I would keep the kitchen clean and he would take care of the laundry. So, when the laundry basket is full, that’s his cue that it’s time to do laundry. And since it isn’t his job anymore, I stopped getting annoyed when he neglected to load or unload the dishwasher. Worked pretty well for a while.

But then APL started slacking with the laundry. And the laundry basket was overflowing. And then there was a mountain of laundry on the floor next to the laundry basket. And he still wasn’t catching up with the laundry. So I helped him catch up. But then he slacked some more and there was a mountain of laundry again. I tried to stop myself from getting upset about it. Things have been really busy for both of us. We’ve both been dealing with a lot. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s only laundry.

Today, since I didn’t end up feeling well enough to concentrate on schoolwork, I decided to help APL catch up with the laundry. I mean, I was home all day anyways. It was no big deal for me to do a little laundry. I actually didn’t mind because it left me with a slightly more productive feeling, since I was frustrated I hadn’t been able to get any schoolwork done. But then APL came home this evening and said something that set me off. Honestly, I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t even remember exactly what he said. I just remember that he didn’t thank me for spending all day doing a chore he had neglected for weeks. And before I knew what was happening, I was furious with APL.

But simultaneously with wanting to smack APL for being so bad at doing his fair share of the housework, I was also really frustrated with myself that I couldn’t seem to control my emotions. After all, it had been my choice to help APL with the laundry. I could have left it there for him to do this weekend. But, even though I knew I was being unreasonable, I still couldn’t stop myself from getting mad at him. I had to shut myself in my study to keep my emotions from shouting at him.

I know I have every right to be annoyed that APL wasn’t doing a good job helping with the housework, but I should also be able to discuss that problem with him like an adult, not get upset like a little child. But my emotions are just flying off the handle because I’m so frustrated and confused about how to deal with everything that’s going on right now. But that shouldn’t give me any right to get overly upset with APL. APL is the one who is helping me most. I simply couldn’t get by at all without him.

In those instances where I can feel a little thing turning into a big uncontrollable thing, I have to try to remind myself how much I love APL. I have to remind myself that we have something bigger than who did or didn’t do the laundry this week. I have to try to remember what’s important. Tonight, while I was shut in my study trying to calm down, I came across this list that someone I know posted to facebook. Yes, I’m aware that the list is totally cheesy, but, somehow, it calmed me back down and made me direct my attention to all the reasons that I keep APL around. It made me go downstairs and give APL a hug. So, I thought I’d share it here:

Children’s Responses to the Question: What Does Love Mean?

• “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” – age 7

• “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” – age 4

• “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” – age 6

• “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” – age 4

• “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” – age 5

• “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” – age 7

• “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.” – age 8


Anonymous said...

PS- I am totally bookmarking this for when I'm trying to not fly off the handle at the Hubs.


~Mariah~ said...

Sometimes easier said than done, huh? Good thing they love us!