It was a rainy morning with a two-hour school delay, and I woke up feeling cross. The back of my eyeballs were strained, my lips pursed, and a furrow felt forever fixed on my brow.
Not wanting to prepare food, I asked Amelia to pick a breakfast cereal out of the pantry. She said, “You said I could have eggs.” Instead of hearing what she said, I heard “YOU SAID I. I. I. I COULD HAVE EGGS. DAD! WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE EGGS? DAD!”
Yes, I had other things on my mind, and they dramatically changed my perceptions of normal events. I reacted totally irrationally saying, “Stop whining and get some cereal. It is not okay to speak to me that way.” (I’ll willingly call myself “Pot” for that one.)
Amelia cowered a bit and said, “I didn’t say it mean.” To which Robin rang in with a headshake “no”. I felt cornered. Was everyone against me? Instead of apologizing, I stormed out of the room.
Mature right? The way to treat people you love?
I’m not always easy to live with, and I can be moody. This doesn’t negate the hours and days spent even-keeled and working together as a family to make this “thing” work. But, those moments when I push Robin to the brink, have unreasonable expectations for our kids, or just want to hop in the car and take a long drive, they weigh on me.
We’re all searching for balance; a way to love and take care of ourselves as we give as much as we can to our family. And, it seems reasonable, at least songs have told us, that if we love and are honest with ourselves, then people will get our truthful and optimized version. They will get a person who, faults and all, is “on their side”. A person they love.
I love my family, and I don’t fear them knowing that I can’t always pour the water to the top of the cup, that I need to be alone sometimes, and that I’m working on loving them better as they feed me with their time.
But, that doesn’t excuse my furrowed brow and pursed lips at the slightest provocation as my mind swirls with other fears. I need to remember that they’re on my side, and when all seems lost and hopeless, when fears in the world overwhelm me, I’m learning to share it with them, rather than have them “just accept” that I’m moody.
Andrew Meyer is a Special Education teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, whose wife’s job relocation changed their family roles and physical location. He's now a stay-at-home dad in Madison, Alabama, to two awesomely creative, sometimes challenging, and mostly sweet five and two-year-old girls who fill his days, nights, and in-between spaces. When with or without them, he writes, works-out, wonders, wishes he wouldn’t worry, wrestles with his wife’s commitment to her job, and listens to music. You can also find him at www.papasense.wordpress.com, on Twitter @papasense, and Facebook.