I saw a quote somewhere the other day that was, in sum, how we (proverbial we) struggle and aren’t happy with our lives because we compare everyone else’s “highlight reel” to our regular, everyday, ho-hum existence. Or we compare the highlights to the part of our life that we don’t really talk about. The part, for instance, that may show we aren’t perfect or that our marriage or relationship isn’t all rainbows and laughter and magazine worthy perfection.
No one wants to talk about that part, even though we all have been there…or we are there now.
So, let’s talk about it.
I will be the first one to tell you that my life isn’t perfect. I’m sure Tim would line up behind me and be the second to voice the same. We have our moments that sometimes last for months. We go through ups and downs. We argue. We fail to communicate. We say things that are hurtful to each other, sometimes without even realizing it. Just the other weekend, after taking Kellan to a (what we thought would be) fun event called Tiny Tots Inside the Orchestra, we walked to a nearby coffee shop. We had to leave after a few minutes because Kellan was scared – it was too loud. So. Plan B. Coffee shop.
As we were walking in, I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than the fact that Kellan was whiny/probably needed a snack and pretty much snapped at Tim when he tried to tell me something about what the menu outside the shop said.
I don’t remember what I said or how I said it because my mind was 100% focused on getting Kellan’s needs met.
Tim asked me three times to repeat whatever I said….and I didn’t respond at all. I legitimately didn’t even hear him ask.
He got upset. I hurt his feelings and at the time, I didn’t even know why. It took getting into an argument (debate?) on the way home before I even knew what I had done. He didn’t want to talk about it or deal with it or start a fight.
I guess I did.
However, even though the whole conversation on the way home was zero percent fun, it helped. It took down some barriers we both had put up over the span of time this same type of thing had happened and neither of us dealt with it; but instead held it in and put up a protective wall. I’m pretty sure at some point, Tim said, “It’s always the same things. We always argue over the SAME THINGS. So, we are either not adjusting/changing our behaviors enough or we aren’t willing to change them at all.”
Ouch. But, that is true. It’s hard to change.
However, actually hearing what it was/is that I did/do that upsets Tim helped me realize that what I was doing (basically saying something with a snippy tone to stop the conversation dead in its tracks) was not the best way to handle a stressful situation for me (Kellan needing something). Tim learned that he sometimes has to actually make me repeat what he asked to make sure I heard him (though I’m trying to get better at hearing him the first time).
(And Kellan was asleep, by the way, so he wasn’t having to consciously witness this.)
I have a really hard time explaining to Tim, or to anyone, really, how difficult it is for me to pay attention when Kellan is actively needing something. It’s like my entire brain is buzzing, tuning everything out, except whatever it is that I need to do to satisfy the need. I’m sure I will get better at handling myself in these situations as Kellan gets older, but right now my brain literally goes into tunnel vision mode. It drops everything, tunes everyone out, doesn’t see anything except for any possible solution to take care of the need.
That automatic response is why I said my snippy comment outside the coffee shop and why I didn’t hear Tim ask me to repeat myself three times. All I heard in my brain, on repeat, was, “Do they have apple juice???”
We have a really long way to go. We have much still to learn about balance and communication and compromise and letting go and being a family. It is really hard. Maybe I have more to learn in those areas than Tim, I don’t know. All I do know is that even though I mostly talk about lighthearted things and post pictures of fun events or moments, know that everyday life isn’t always so glamorous. We are not the perfect example if anything, other than maybe how not to be perfect, if that makes any sense. We are just regular people, trying to make the best out of what we have.