Is it good? Is it bad? I get to decide
Heather is more well-adjusted to life than I am. A lot more. And these days I’m remarkably and painfully aware, noticing when my thoughts and emotions seem to be out of line, when it appears that I’m overreacting – especially when we are experiencing the same exact situations. I’ll often look over at her and say, “Why is this bothering ME so much, when you seem just fine?” It has taken MANY years just to get to the point where I’m questioning my own reactions, wondering if there’s a better way. (The old me didn’t even know what he didn’t know.)
“They’re just facts.” she said. “I just don’t let them bother me.”
“Ok, I get that intellectually,” I said, “but, it still makes me crazy.”
Earlier that morning, the last Sunday in August, we slept late – like teenager late, 10:30. Although nothing compared to my old hangover sleep-in’s, which lasted until early afternoon, this is very uncommon for parents with 3 young kids and an idiot dog.
It was fine, we’ve had a long week of early mornings, and didn’t have any time sensitive plans for the day, but still, that voice in my head was beating me up: “what the hell, Mike, you’ve wasted half the day … I can’t believe YOU did THIS!” What was also fueling my misery is the sad realization that now I’m old enough to snap, crackle and pop trying to get out of bed after sleeping too long, nothing like the more ‘enjoyable’ muscle ache that comes after working out (which it couldn’t be, because that was 3 days ago!)
Jacob, our autistic 9 year old, had already barged into our bedroom at least 4 times (that I can remember), asking if it was ok to turn on the TV … sure, yes, then it continues …
Is it ok to play on the computer? Yes.
Is it ok if I make a waffle. YES.
When are you gonna get up and plug in the (Nintendo) Switch? GET OUT!!!
If only he had once told me what time it was, I probably would have gotten up.
So, Heather woke me up. No, not like that, but it was still nice to have her warm body pressed up against me, it slowed my overactive brain long enough to experience a little bit of gratitude before going into battle. Eventually, I got up and staggered down the hallway to see Jacob and Abby, his twin, playing with one of the phones – and my nemesis, Bowie the 2 year old German Shepherd Dog was still locked away in his crate.
“What the hell! How long have you all been up? Why is BOWIE still in his CRATE!!!” I screamed.
Jacob ran over to let him out. He knew he screwed up. He had been briefed many times about letting the dog out if he was the first one awake.
“JJ, that doesn’t matter now, just … just put down the phone and go to your room,” I said, “and you too Abby.”
I was so pissed.
I don’t even like the damn dog, but for some reason it bothered me that he was in that cage for so many hours, all night, all morning, probably with an overflowing bladder.
Why was I so mad? Because I care about the dog? Because I didn’t want to clean up the mess if he had an accident? Because I think the kids are disrespecting me? Because I’ve failed as a parent, because my kids, my 9 YEAR OLDS aren’t properly and responsibly following my directions? (that was meant to be sarcastic)
I looked over at Heather. She was oblivious, in her own little world, doing Heather things, enjoying the attractions in Heather-Land. I was so freaking jealous.
Not a word. I’ve learned when to just keep my thoughts to myself to not incite an argument with my wife, especially first thing in the morning. So, I started cooking sausage and pancakes, from scratch – not for THEM, but for me! That’s right, to hell with them.
“Is Stephanie awake yet?” I said to Heather. It’s now nearly 11AM, and our 14 year old is nowhere to be found. If SHE wants the damn dog, maybe she should wake up early to take care of him, like a farmer’s daughter would have to wake up and feed the chickens and milk the cows.
I started pouring out the flower, just grinding my thoughts away, stewing in my anger. I added the baking powder, sugar, salt, making a little well in the middle to pour in the milk. Abby loves doing this part, but I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction this morning. That’s right, I’ll show those little shits the wrath of my passive aggressiveness!
“How long do we have to stay in our room?” Jacob yells from down the hall.
I shouted back, “How long was Bowie in his crate this morning? About 3 hours?”
I was slicing up the sausage, mad at the pans, mad at the kitchen, and feeling like everything sucks. Just look at the cabinets, all falling apart. And the dust on top of the stove, do I have to do everything around here? Now I was caught up thinking ahead to what else had to be done that day, lamenting my endless pile of tasks, the necessity of checking them all off, just so I can go to sleep then get up and do it all over again in the morning.
What happened to the gratitude of my half naked wife laying in bed with me just a half hour ago?
Just then I became aware that I was violently spinning inside a negative thought vortex, and was able to step out of it for a moment.
“Why does this bother me so much?” I said to Heather.
“I don’t know. They’re just kids.” she said.
And just like that, the icy meanness seemed to melt, and I told Stephanie, who had suddenly appeared, to get the twins and tell them breakfast is ready.
What are the facts of that morning’s events? We overslept, and JJ forgot to let the dog out of his crate. Period. All that suffering I went through was on me. I told myself a horrible story about how my family is plotting to ruin my day, but it was all bullshit.
I get to decide how I interpret what is happening around me – is it good or is it bad – I get to decide. But only if I’m awake enough to notice.