Weary, she dumped yet another load of clean clothes onto the couch to fold. It was simply never-ending, this laundry task. Leaky diapers, spit-up soaked sleepers and burp cloths, dirty-kneed toddler pants, and spaghetti sauce spattered onesies ensured that she would never really be caught-up. Still, this is what she’d wanted, what she’d always hoped for. An adventurous explorer of a boy, a tiny princess of a girl… she couldn’t complain.
Well, perhaps it was more accurate to say she couldn’t complain about THEM.
Now… him? He was a different story.
Silently, she seethed as she pulled yet another dress shirt out of the heap. One sleeve right side out, the other inside-out. “Who DOES that??” she wondered, yanking the one through so it would be correct. “How hard is it to take off a shirt?” Toss it to the side, move on… there’s always more to do.
The pile of mismatched socks grew.
What’s that there? A sweatshirt? Why’s it so tangled? Oh. Because it got yanked off WITH the undershirt. Because, you know, it would just be SO hard to take them off one at a time. Her breath huffed out and her eyes flared as she wrestled the articles apart and carefully folded and stacked them.
On to the socks. She smiled over tiny little ruffled baby socks. Grinned as she matched up the Cookie Monster socks her toddler had chosen for her the previous Mother’s Day. It was an easy task, a mindless task, and it went quickly. Until she got to his socks. Why, dear Lord, WHY was every single one of those socks inside-out?
Oh, wait. She stood corrected. They weren’t all inside-out. Some were hopelessly balled up and, as a result, still damp and icky feeling. Nice…
All he had to do was dump his clothes in the pile and she made sure they were clean… and he couldn’t take the extra two seconds to make her job just a little easier?
She gathered the piles and stomped off to put them away.
She? Was me. Yep. Isn’t that AWFUL? But it’s totally true.
I remember, vividly, feeling as though my husband was out to get me with the careless way he’d treat his clothes. I remember asking, kindly (in my mind, at least), if he could please try a little harder to keep his sleeves the right way? He’d nod distractedly, then go right back to his sloppy ways.
And, oh, this quick little temper of mine would flare hot. I was generally calm about the whole thing before he ever got home, but, really, what a waste of energy!
Is this a big deal or a little deal?
I ask my children that sometimes when they get mad or sad or hurt. It’s a really simple tool to evaluate how much energy something really deserves.
I ask myself now, too.
He still leaves one sleeve inside-out on at least 90% of the dress shirts I wash. Now, I laugh at myself because, in the rare cases when he doesn’t, I usually wind up turning one the wrong way. We know each other. We love each other. We tolerate each other.
And we’ve learned to recognize the “little stuff” so that it never threatens the big stuff… like this beautiful thing we call marriage.