Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 28: Don’t Should on Me

Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear a marriage and family therapist speak. His topic was the emotional lives of kids. It was fascinating (and far funnier than I expected it to be).

Although his primary subject matter was parenting, there was some overlap into the realm of marriage. He mentioned that we often we get into a detrimental ‘you should’ mindset regarding our spouses. “You, spouse, should do this.” “You, partner, shouldn’t do that.” He concluded his remarks in this vein by asking, “Do you know what we in therapy say about the ‘shoulds’?  Don’t should on me.”

He was obviously going for the laugh, but it was an effective statement.

When we adopted our eldest, I was thrilled about our first Christmas together. On Christmas Eve, we put out milk, cookies and ice cream (Santa’s favorite) before we tucked our little guy into bed. Then, I hung snowflakes from the ceiling, so that he would wake up to a white Christmas. I stenciled Santa footprints on the floor out of flour. We artfully placed the Santa presents under the tree. It was twinkling and magical and everything I had ever dreamed it would be.

Christmas Eve

We went to bed. I woke up around 2 AM and didn’t hear jingle bells, I heard retching coming from the bathroom. Matt was terribly ill. He fell back into bed and we both hoped that the worst was over. It wasn’t. Around 4 AM, I went to 7-11 to buy him Gatorade. Around 5 AM, I was outside hosing out the trashcan in my pjs and bathrobe. He was really sick.

When our little guy woke up,  Matt managed to get up too. He stumbled downstairs and onto the couch. This was not the moment I had pictured, and I was miffed. He was ruining my Christmas! Of all the selfish things to do! Who goes and gets food poisoning on Christmas morning? Why did he eat those tamales at the party? (It was actually a 24-hour flu bug as we learned from the urgent care doctor later that day.)

We handed our little guy his stocking. But he wanted nothing to do with his presents. All he wanted was his daddy. It was the most heartwarming of moments. It was the definition of love.
Christmas Morning

Years later, that Christmas memory is one of my most favorite Christmases ever (apart from how I acted and apart from having to clean the puke receptacles).

I’d gotten caught up in the “shoulds.” Christmas morning should look like this. Everyone should have the decency not to be ill on a day that might interfere how I pictured this day to be. People should comport with my entirely realistic expectations AT ALL TIMES. Good grief people, is that too much to ask??

Don’t get caught up in the “shoulds” today. Go forth and put your expectations to rest.

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