Monday, February 17, 2014

The Rule Breaker

As I was cleaning the bathroom, which is about the only time my 4 year old leaves me alone in the bathroom, I had a little time to replay an argument my husband and I had yesterday… 

When I left the house Sunday, I left some very stained mixed-colored clothes in a pre-wash cycle to soak.  When I came home two hours later, those clothes were hot and dry in the dryer… stains still intact. 

And. I. Lost. It. 

 In my husband’s defense, he had put some clothes he “needed” for his one day trip out of town that afternoon. (Okay, sure,  but being that he had two baskets full of clean clothes in our bedroom, I can’t imagine he didn’t have something he could wear… ). I reminded him (with a loud and lashing tongue) that our laundry rule was that he was not supposed to put stuff in the dryer without asking me first. He could wash and dry HIS whites or socks, any towels, and any jeans, but that all other laundry was to be left to me (this rule came in to play after many a sweater, shirt, or dry cleaning only item was ruined after a wash and dry in our early marriage).  Of course, this turned in to a very loud “discussion” with Jeff complaining that he couldn’t keep up with all my rules! Rules about laundry, what to clean with what product,  what brand to buy, insisting Jillian wearing shorts under dresses, reading labels to avoid Red 40, etc. etc. etc.  

I got so loud that poor Jillian pulled out the old Daniel Tiger “Take a breath and count to 10” phrase to try to calm me down which made me laugh, but didn’t curb my frustration.  Then she told Jeff he needed to apologize for doing the laundry wrong and I needed to apologize for yelling. And we did.  And like we always do when Jillian sees her loud parents bicker (yeah, I know… we have a therapy account) we apologized, kissed, and made up. Plus we had a “family hug.” 

But that wasn’t what I was thinking about in the bathroom. 

I was thinking about how many “rules” I set in place without even realizing it. In fact, I may even set up my husband for failure with some of my rules and expectations simply because I don’t tell him what they are until he breaks one!  And really, who wants to help someone that berates you for doing something wrong at every turn?  Someone who is never completely satisfied with your performance?  Someone who forgets that you have the stress of a new job and family finances on your brain? Someone that doesn’t acknowledge how tired you are at the end of the day when she throws a bouncing child at you and runs out the door? Someone who wonders why nothing was “done” while she was gone? Someone that took 5 minutes out of a major project with a deadline to try to help out by doing some laundry?  Yeah, that is a job I would quit.   And I don’t want Jeff to quit. 

And the more I thought about that, I started thinking about God. And a lesson from Sunday about grace and forgiveness.  And how God does forgive us without beating us over the head about what we did.

So today I resolve (okay, maybe I am resolving for the 10th time) to better communicate my expectations. I resolve to forgive without berating when they aren’t followed to the letter. I resolve to recognize that not everything has to be done MY way and that one or two pairs of pink underwear or one $10 T-shirt tossed into the stained “playclothes” pile isn’t the end of the world.  Oh, and while I’m at it, I resolve to quit yelling (for the 100th time... God forgive me).